Ever since I played Atelier Iris 3 Grand Phantasm and the spin-off Mana Khemia: Student Alliance many moons ago, I’ve been wanting to check out the other games in the Atelier franchise but never got around to it until now. To kick off the holiday season I have added not one not two but FIVE Atelier games to my Nintendo Switch library which include: Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland DX, Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk DX, Atelier Escha & Logy: The Alchemists of Dusk Sky DX, Atelier Shallie: The Alchemists of The Dusk Sea DX, and finally Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings DX. We will take a look at the rest of the games soon so stay tuned!
With so many Atelier games it can be difficult (not to mention overwhelming) for players to decide where to jump in for the first time— even for someone like me who’s coming back into the series after years away from its beautiful world. To help make my decision easier I spent an hour or two with each Atelier game I added to my Nintendo Switch library to get a taste of what I would be in for. Some Atelier games focus on character interactions, some are story-driven, and some focus on gameplay. In the end, I decided to start with Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland DX and it helped me get reacquainted with the world of Atelier. Despite the time-based system which makes the game very challenging I couldn’t be happier with my choice!
Sweet Rorona To The Rescue: Let’s Save The Workshop!
Meet Rorona: A sweet and kindhearted alchemist who is entrusted with the big responsibility of saving the workshop that she helps out at from being closed down. This takes her by surprise as she feels that it’s beyond her abilities. As time goes on we see her grow more confident and begin to have faith in herself. This was one of the most heartwarming moments that I love about Rorona’s character development, along with the relationships she forms with the people she meets on her journey and around the kingdom.
Assignments And Deadlines: Talk About Raising Your Blood Pressure
Using a time-based system the core gameplay of Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland DX is focused on completing monthly assignments over three years. If you don’t complete the monthly assignments by their respective deadlines Rorona fails and the workshop is closed immediately. This can cause players to feel an understandable amount of anxiety, stress and I wouldn’t blame someone if they wanted to throw in the towel and choose another entry point into the Atelier series. However, should they choose to stick with it then they will be richly rewarded with a beautiful touching story. In my experience so far I’ve been able to have sufficient time to strengthen my party members, complete optional side-quests, and gather ingredients. The assignments do get harder though so I have a feeling that I will be cutting it close as the story continues.
During the first half of the game your monthly assignments consist of synthesizing (definition: combining ingredients to make a new item) and your evaluation depends on how many items you submit as well as their quality. It should be noted that synthesizing uses Rorona’s energy so if her MP is too low then she will have to rest for a day or two or you risk failing the synthesis and wasting ingredients which you don’t want to do because time passes when you create items, gather ingredients and explore areas, and travel to places on the world map. Time management is very important in this game. It’s truly a balancing act but I believe you can do it and succeed!
Now I’m on my 8th assignment and I have to defeat a certain number of target monsters so I’m glad to see that Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland DX has started to mix up the assignment objectives to avoid repetition.
Your Fee Is How Much?!
Oh, dear. My least favorite part of Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland DX is that you have to HIRE the characters you meet during the story in order for them to join your party. With the exception of Rorona’s friend Cory who joins without a fee, the rest of the characters have a fee and in this game, nothing is affordable since money can go down very quickly. I once had a situation where I bought a recipe book so that Rorona could make new items, and I was left with little to no money to hire a character to come with me during field excursions. And from what I’ve seen monsters don’t drop substantial amounts of money either, so not only is time management a must but also budgeting as well.
And a little side note that I forgot to mention: As you increase your friendship levels with each playable character their fee decreases, so it’s worth it to place a high priority on their requests!
Here are a few tips to make the most of your in-game currency and party members:
DO as many optional side quests as you can. A lot of them are repeatable and a good way to earn money while raising Rorona’s reputation as an alchemist.
DON’T accept a side quest without having the item in hand. I made the mistake of accepting a bunch of side quests all at once and what I didn’t notice at first was that these also have deadlines and it’s too easy to lose track of them all considering that Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland DX uses a time-based system. I found it more beneficial to make the items before I accepted the actual quest so then I could report the quest right away. If you miss deadlines for side quests Rorona’s reputation will decrease and will result in lower pay.
DO use specific characters to help you discover new ingredients. When I had Iksel in my party an event scene played and he helped me find new ingredients that weren’t there before. With his help I was able to get triberries and a sour apple— I could gather these ingredients without him in the party after the discovery was made.
DON’T buy weapons and armor from the shop. This last tip is going to be very counterintuitive but as I mentioned earlier everything in Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland DX is very expensive and can leave you broke quickly. I haven’t bought any new weapons or armor from the shop since I started the game but I plan to synthesize some accessories with healing effects just to see how it works out.
Boy That Hurts!
Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland DX is a turn-based JRPG but its battles are tough due to the monsters hitting pretty hard and you don’t want to get knocked out in this game. You won’t get a game over but you will lose a handful of days that would otherwise be used to complete your assignment. I was still able to complete the assignments on time even when I did lose a battle, but the further I get into the story the harder the assignments get and I may not always be lucky so it’s best to try and prevent anything from happening.
And here is where things get a little murkier. Rorona is the only person who can use items in battle, so if a party member gets injured then she has to be the one to heal them unless they have a healing skill. However, if Rorona is targeted to be attacked by a monster then a character can take a hit for her by pressing the L or R button as long as she has her assist gauge filled up and ready to go. Her teammates can also join her in attacking the enemy with the L or R buttons as long as that same assist gauge is filled, and only when she uses a skill.
Pretty As A Picture
The Atelier series has always been known for its gorgeous artwork and I’d be a fool not to mention it. The artwork has been the main reason I’ve wanted to get back into the series in addition to seeing what has changed over the years!
Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland DX has been a wonderful addition to my Nintendo Switch library. While I’m happy with my choice I wouldn’t recommend this as a starting point for new players due to its unforgiving time-based system, but I would certainly recommend this to players who are familiar with the time-based mechanics and have the patience to stick with it just to see Rorona’s growth as a character!
Will Rorona be able to keep the workshop open or is it just months away from closing its doors? That’s for you to find out!