An Unforgettable Adventure

One best shared with friends.

Who will willingly embark on a perilous journey to solve the mysteries surrounding the undersea societies, subterranean workshops, and crumbling catacombs found deep within the decaying ruins of a forgotten civilisation. One whose history and accomplishments have been lost to the unrelenting passage of time. Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy is the delightfully charming narrative-driven sequel to
Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout which features gathering, synthesising, duplicating, and feeding a Puni to gain decorative items.

I’ve finally discovered its purpose.

Not that this was its original purpose, nor its entire purpose, as it also returns with various raw materials, and can transform should certain requirements be met. But at least I vaguely knew what I was trying to achieve by feeding it. Even if doing so did result in the acquisition of a goat.

I’m reasonably certain that its statistics (and transformations) influence the raw materials that it returns with, but I’ve never been able to reliably reproduce results. Hence why I rarely gathered raw materials this way. But it is entirely possible that, with the right combinations, the rarest raw materials could be acquired, which would allow you to synthesise advanced recipes that were otherwise unavailable. The skill tree dictates how rapidly Ryza develops as an alchemist in the sequel, and affords unprecedented freedom by allowing you to prioritise different aspects of the creation process. Making it feasible to synthesise items of higher quality, to make use of more materials, and to learn numerous recipes earlier than it would have been possible to in Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout.

The countless hours spent synthesising every known recipe attest to how complex and satisfying this creation process was. While the countless hours spent mining in the Crystal Cave of Oblivion attest to my reliance on the Item Rebuild and Item Duplication mechanics. Both of which feel like a necessity. Especially when you consider how much there is to synthesise, and how laborious the process would be otherwise. But such is what I’d expect from an experience that requires you to gather raw materials, synthesise recipes, and then repeat that process.

It’s an oddly enjoyable monotony.

One that I happily endured, as there were boss encounters that could have decimated my entire party were I not adequately prepared. Encounters that were as surprising as they were exciting. As I didn’t believe that such challenges existed, but I was proven wrong on numerous occasions.

I’m always happy to face a supposedly insurmountable challenge, though. If for no other reason than it justifies the hours that I’ve spent synthesising new equipment, empowering items, allocating Core Drives, adjusting Core Crystals, and tweaking traits. It’s also fun knowing that greater challenges could exist on even higher difficulty levels. It gives me something to aspire to. Something to eventually overcome. And that’s why I’ve greatly enjoyed my time with Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy, as it capably builds upon the mechanics (and events) established in Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout and serves as an excellent sequel. One that I highly recommend to existing fans of the Atelier series, or to those seeking a wonderfully enjoyable narrative-driven JRPG.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

The Mysterious Hatchling

Making new friends.

Something that Ryza is as capable doing as she is solving every known problem with alchemy. Regardless of what is needed- be it medicine, food, reagents, or even an entire tree- alchemy is the answer. Which is rather remarkable when you consider that her recipes are based on the practices of the Klint Kingdom, and that they used these same processes to commit heinous crimes. But such was their nature after their civilisation was consumed by its perverse desires. Ryza, however, has no such desires, and only seeks to use alchemy to better the world around her.

Exhibiting wholly innocent desires.

Whereas I desire nothing more than to obsess over the statistical benefits and traits afforded to her creations. And, as a result, have spent countless hours tweaking the materials added to recipes, while considering how best to reinforcement equipment to create the best items that I can.

I didn’t expect the creation process to be even more complex and satisfying in the sequel, nor did I expect to be able to expand upon it by unlocking advanced mechanics in the skill tree. Most notably, Essences, which drastically alter the statistics and/or traits of an item, and can fundamentally affect the entire creation process. The Item Rebuild, Gem Reduction, and Item Duplication mechanics from Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout have also made a return. Utilising these with the Essence Refinement mechanics results in an increasingly involute creation process, which has never felt convoluted despite how layered it has become. And that can’t be understated considering how long I’ve spent synthesising new materials, and then turning those synthesised materials into new items, and then rebuilding those items.

The harsh reality of career aspirations.

Core Crystals have also returned, but their mechanics have been completely revisited. Each party member has their own and its Core Charges are tied to their respective proficiency. Lent, for example, has less Core Charges than Ryza, due to his lack of proficiency with items. Core Crystals can now be enhanced with Core Elements, too. These increase the damage dealt by specific elemental damage types, and will strengthen both the items and the abilities of the owner. Certain combinations of items can even be used to execute devastating new Core Drives.

Making item usage more tactical.

I’ve definitely been considering which items are best suited to which party members, as their individual Core Crystals dictate the likelihood of being able to execute different Core Drives. I’ve also tailored their equipment to the roles that they’re going to have in any given combat encounter.

I’m always curious as to how (or if) a sequel is going to build upon previously established mechanics, and whether that is going to contribute meaningfully to the experience. Hence why I’m delighted to discover that Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy has built upon them in unexpected but beneficial ways. I had few complaints about the existing creation process, but this newly revisited one has been such a pleasure to figure out while I’ve steadily unlocked new mechanics. Not that I’m even sure whether I’ve unlocked all of the mechanics by now. I’ve not seen the Travel Bottle yet. But that may have been replaced by the economy development mechanics, as I’m reasonably certainly that the Travel Bottle was mostly a means to acquire unusual raw materials. But I suppose I’ll have to see whether one turns up or not.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Klint Kingdom Mysteries

Synthesis for the devil.

Alchemy was the foundation of the Klint Kingdom, but it was tainted by the ambition of man and twisted into a perverse practice. One later redeemed by the exploits of Reisalin Stout, affectionately known as Ryza, and her friends, as they utilised alchemical formulae to better the world around them. Solving problems through synthesis, helping the hopeless, and firing letters out of a literal cannon. Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout is an enrapturing narrative-driven JRPG featuring gathering, synthesising, duplicating, and feeding a Puni for reasons unknown.

Who knows what it may bring home.

I’m assuming that it delivers randomly generated raw materials, and that what you feed it, or how it develops, determines those materials. It could be the source of raw materials that are unobtainable elsewhere, or it could exist solely for its comedic value, or it could be source of Gems.

One that doesn’t require the continued deforestation of Limewick Hill. But, to be fair, those trees were unnatural, and not meant for mortal beings. One tree shouldn’t produce that many raw materials. Discovering it was a considerable boon, though. I was finally able to make use of the Multiplicauldron, thus bypassing the repeated synthesis of refined materials, and exponentially hastening my progress towards optional bosses, while satiating my desire to collect and organise things. I was slightly disappointed that the fifth great element, that of shadow, was unavailable until after the main campaign. And that, as a result, having synthesised everything that an alchemist could synthesise, it was barely a challenge. But, by defeating it, I could finally face the secret boss, which proved to be a challenge on Charismatic difficulty.

I’ve greatly enjoyed the time spent with Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout, though. Even if I did tire of the Multiplicauldron towards the end of the main campaign. It’s a useful mechanic- and an appreciated one- but it’s a mundane process. Reduce raw materials into Gems, use those Gems, and then repeat. I was, however, impressed by how this instalment blended familiar mechanics with the usual modern conveniences. Not by cheapening the experience, but by making it accessible while retaining the complexity and extensiveness of its mechanics.

It was a rather refreshing experience.

Which is what I’d hoped that the Atelier series would be as a whole. Something different, but something satisfying. Something that I could enjoy for the countless hours spent synthesising recipes in the confines of an Atelier. And that’s exactly how I’ve felt with this particular instalment.

Throughout the main campaign I enjoyed watching each character develop independently, discovering their own goals and ambitions, and appreciated how each character had their own quests, which furthered their proficiency in combat. It was fun focusing on alchemical pursuits with Ryza and Empel, but then having to focus on defeating strong opposition with Lent and Lila. It was a rather prominent theme in the story, too. Which tied everything together quite nicely. I’m now wondering how they’re going to build on that in the sequel, and if we’ll see the same characters returning or an entirely new party. Or some characters returning and some new ones. Either way, I’d highly recommend Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout to fans of JRPGs looking for something different but satisfying.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Rasen Pudding Pioneer

A delightfully delicious magical treat.

Synthesised from only the highest quality ingredients, which are freshly gathered every day and simmered over a medium heat in an alchemy cauldron for the perfect texture. Don’t forget to try our Kurken Island variant, too. Produced from locally sourced fresh milk, sugar, and most likely some kind of gelatin. Of the many things that I’ve synthesised- massive two-handed swords, billowing capes of mystical fabric, rings of untapped potential- the Rasen Pudding is arguably the greatest. It heals, it buffs, it jiggles, and it never depletes when paired with a Core Crystal.

Core Charges are now pudding servings.

Given his predilection for sweet things, I’m certain that Empel would agree that this is an acceptable use of this mysterious Klint Kingdom relic. Rather than using it to inflict elemental damage via bombs, remove status ailments, revive characters who’ve been knocked out, and so on.

We could do both, though. Not that I’ve been particularly diligent when synthesising consumables and combustibles, but I’m still learning how best to utilise raw materials and where best to use them. I’ve barely touched the weapon enhancement mechanics, Weapon Buff and Weapon Forging, but I don’t want to waste Gems on weapons that I’m likely to replace fairly quickly. I’ve explored the Gathering Synthesiser but once to retrieve a single raw material. And don’t even ask about the Multiplicauldron. I’ve only duplicated items that won’t yield much alchemy experience, as I’d rather synthesise from raw ingredients to unlock new recipes and further enhance Ryza’s alchemical talent. Not that the complexity and extensiveness of these mechanics isn’t appreciated, but they can be slightly overwhelming for entirely new players.

This is going to hurt…

Which, regarding the Atelier series, I am, as Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout is the first of this series that I’ve played. I’ve previously purchased an entry in the Arland, Dusk, and Mysterious subseries. But I felt that the most recent release would be the most accessible, and would allow me to grow accustomed to the progression and mechanics of the series as a whole. And it certainly is accessible. But the mechanics exhibit unexpected complexity, which I couldn’t be happier about but know will result in hours of synthesising components in pursuit of perfection.

Or a really neat two-handed sword.

The Atelier series doesn’t conform to what you’d typically expect from a JRPG, either. Defeating enemies and grinding for experience isn’t as significant as synthesising powerful equipment, while progression through the main campaign is often narrative-driven and somewhat linear.

This is, of course, from my experiences with Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout, which have been pleasant but might not necessarily be indicative of the series as a whole. But I’ve been fascinated by how engaging the alchemy mechanics have been, and how satisfying synthesising is. Exploration has depth and requires the use of different Gathering Tools, gathering is kept fresh and interesting by utilising those in new areas, morphing affords unprecedented flexibility and results in new recipes, items can be rebuilt to enhance their effects or traits, and everything feels as if it has its own purpose. Nothing feels disjointed or unintuitive. Adventuring has never been as wholesome or as fulfilling, and I can’t wait to see what mysteries we’ll unravel as we continue to explore ancient Klint Kingdom ruins.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie