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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: NIS America
Developed By: GUST
Genre: RPG
Players: 1
Rated: T (Teen)
Release Date: September 28, 2010
Screenshots: Link
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Written By: Matthew Prunty

September 26, 2010 - Like many people, Iím a newcomer to the Atelier series, which got its start on the first PlayStation platform with the release of ĎAtelier Marie: The Alchemist of Salburgí back in 1997. With more than a dozen titles have been released within the series, the Atelier series of role-playing games has been a strong staple in Japan. When the series made its debut in North America with the release of ĎAtelier Iris: Eternal Manaí, PlayStation 2 owners were opened up to a new style of RPG games that otherwise wouldnít of been known unless you were heavily into importing games. From there, we fast forward five years and we have the release of Atelier Rorona: Alchemist of Arland (Rorona no Atorie ~Ārando no Renkinjutsushi); the first Atelier title to debut on the PlayStation 3 console. With the debut of the series on the PS3 console, developer GUST decided to do away with the visual presentation that the series is known for in order to usher it into an era befitting of the PS3 console.

Atelier Rorona: Alchemist of Arland has players assume the role of Rorolina Frixell; known to the townspeople as Rorona, whoís currently an apprentice to the townís alchemist, Astrid. While the town is thriving with a consistent flow of business, it seems that the Astridís workshop which Astrid and Rorona work in is hardly doing any business. Despite the fact that they have to scrimp and save in order to stay afloat, Rorona always seems to come off with a cheerful attitudeÖ that is until she hears word from the King. A knight of Arland, Sterkenburg, comes to the workshop to deliver bad news to the lovely ladies in the form of the workshop being closed down unless the kingís twelve assignments can be completed within 3 years of allotted time. With Astrid overhearing the conversation between knight and Rorona, she decides to hand over the shop to Rorona thus forcing her to have to deal with the twelve assignments if she wants to keep the workshop open for business. Having no other place to go, Rorona reluctantly rolls up her sleeves hopping that her novice skills will be enough to keep the shop open.

As the new owner of the workshop, Roronaís task and that of the player is to complete the twelve assignments handed down by the kind within three years. You are given three months for each project and while that seems like plenty of time, you will soon come to realize that tile flies when it comes to synthesizing items and venturing outside of town. To help fill in the gaps, the townspeople and Roronaís various friends request certain tasks be completed, which will help you earn money and improve the workshops reputation within the town. Just like the main objectives, these tasks can include synthesizes items, finding rare items or simply defeating a certain creature that lurks outside of town. These are looked upon as side missions, and while you donít have to complete them in order to advance through the game, itís recommended that you do so. The side missions and the main objectives will have Rorona traveling outside of town and this is where time management becomes a very important part of the game.

Venturing outside of town, Rorona will come across various items and enemies you can do battle with or avoid. Since venturing outside of town is seen as very dangerous, Rorona has the ability to enlist the help of her friends in order to stay safe while roaming the many dungeons outside of town. It is here that you also find out that certain people that you enlist for help will charge you a fee every time they leave the town with you. While Roronaís best friend Cordelia wonít do that, others like Iskel and Sterk will, so side quests will help cover the cash needed for their assistance. While out and about collecting items, keep in mind that each item you pick up with have its own slot within your carrying pouch and it can only hold a maximum amount of 60 items. The main reason why items donít are not stackable is due to the fact no two items are the same. Each item you find has its own characteristics, which are essential to filling the requests of the townspeople. Itís also due to these requests that you will often discard lower quality items for a better version in order to improve your synthesis process.

While you can easily spend several hours out and about outside of town collecting items, most of your time will actually be spent inside the workshop doing item synthesis. The tutorial set in place is easy to follow when getting down the basics, however just because you have a container full of items doesnít mean you can go synthesis crazy. Every time you perform a synthesis, time and a portion of Roronaís help is being consumed. Some of the basic items can be synthesized in 2 hours with only taking 1 point away from Roronaís health bar. However when you get into synthesizing more complicated items and multiples of one item at one time, you can see Roronaís health and time deplete very fast. If Roronaís health ever gets too low, you can go take a nap on the couch in the shop in order to replenish her health.

While improving Roronaís alchemy skills is essential to being able to create new, far more difficult items, raising her adventurerís level is equally important. This is done by committing to combat with various creatures you will come across in the dungeons outside of town. It is here that you get your first instance of the combat system in place for Atelier Rorona. The combat is your standard turn-base affair, where you and comrades swap turns with your enemies until one side has been defeated. While in battle, Rorona has access to five commands that she can utilize in battle: attack, skill, defense, escape and item. If Rorona has anyone else venturing outside of the kingdom with here, they only have access to the first four skills. The reason behind the fifth skill for Rorona is because various items you will collect along your travels can be used as weapons or to hill your party members. Even items you synthesize in your workshop can be used to heal party members. Using Ďskillí allows your character to perform a special attack which usually nets high damage points or instant defeat for the enemy. However in the later dungeons, you will find yourself picking and choosing your battles because some of your enemies can practically defeat you in one fell swoop if your Adventurer level isnít high enough or if you are not packing the right gear.

With this being GUSTís first HD game; especially on the PS3 console, I have to say that the developer did a solid job. While this title isnít in the league of games like Final Fantasy XIII or White Knight Chronicles, it doesnít have to be as the approach GUST took was for this game to be easy on the eyes and for it to draw you in simply off its visual stylings. GUST made sure to use the entire color in designing the lush scenery within the various locations. The overall feel and look of Atelier Rorona is one of life in a country setting. The in-game soundtrack was comprised very nicely. Each and every song you hear resonates with the situation for which you are in. Iíll admit the songs that play during battles didnít stand out as much as the tracks during other parts of the game, but as a whole itís another solid iatrical part to the overall presentation.

The voiceover work within this title isnít on par with the gameís soundtrack. Itís more of a hit or miss as you have characters like Sterk and Astrid that just sound phenomenal, which characters like Hom and Pamela just seem a bit annoying. The voice actor behind Rorona did a solid job bringing across her insecurities, which also putting up a phased of a happy go lucky type of girl. There are instances within the game where you wonder if the voiceover actors and actresses were all in the same room acting out certain scenes and you can easy see characters playing off of Roronaís imperfections, which bring about funny and memorable moments within the game. However, for those who are not all about the English voiceovers, you do have the options to replace them with the Japanese voiceovers, which just sound amazing overall.

Due to the construct of two unique approaches to Atelier Rorona, this game will require several playthroughs to be able to see everything this game has to offer. This title is littered with storied events which play out depending on if you are performing alchemy or out adventuring. While you can have a healthy balance of both, you will miss out on some story events, which help shape the gameplay and your ultimate ending. While some may see this as a bad thing, itís actually good because the game wonít be the same the second time around. If you decide to only be an alchemist in your second playthrough, you will be ill-prepared for battle sequences outside of the town, however through alchemy; you can develop devastating weapons to use in battle to give you an upper hand. Playing through with an emphasis on adventuring will result in stronger characters for battle, though being able to perform specific syntheses will be a tad harder. IF that isnít reason enough to play through the game multiple times, keep in mind you can be of only a group of people that will actually be able to obtain the Platinum trophy for this title, which is no easy feat.

While this is certainly my first experience with the Atelier series and I have nothing to really compare it to, Atelier Rorona: Alchemist of Arland is one of the best turn-based RPGs that I have played in awhile. While the game follows a different path than other turn-based games on the market, it does so with a flare that simply makes the game stand out from the rest. Atelier Rorona can easily be completed in less than 25 hours, however for those looking to acquire the full experience; you will find yourself easily spending 75+ hours with this game. With this title all ready to release this coming Tuesday, hopefully NIS America will bring us some news in regards to the sequel making its debut stateside.


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