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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 for Teen (Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, Partial Nudity, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol)
Release Date: May 29, 2012
Screenshots: Link
Amazon: Buy Now!
Written By: Matthew Prunty

June 10, 2012 – For the past three years the Atelier series has stood out as a unique alternative to the likes of the White Knight Chronicles, Disgaea, and fellow NIS American published Ar tonelico series. While all of these games share certain aspects of the RPG genre, each provide a unique take on the genre through interesting stories and unique characters. With Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland being the final installment within the Atelier trilogy, developer Gust decided to go out on a high note. While resting on the lore of previous Atelier titles, Atelier Meruru branches out on its own to tell a unique and compelling story that’s befitting of the trilogy.

For those unfamiliar with the previous two titles, there is a Prologue option on the title screens which sums up the previous two titles in the series in order to provide a better understanding of what you are jumping into. In Atelier Meruru you play as non other that Meruru, the princess of Arl. As any you girl coming into her own, she wants to do this, be that when she is grown up; however nothing holds more truth than her passion of alchemy. When she’s not business with kingdom duties, she would spend most of her time at Totori’s workshop learning the basics of alchemy. Once the king, her father, finds out that Meruru is studying to be an alchemist behind his back, he gives her an ultimatum: become a good alchemist and help her kingdom grow over the next three years or she’ll have to give up alchemy forever.

Atelier Meruru: Apprentice of Arland capitalizes off the first two titles in order to create a solid experience. Just like in the first two titles, you are able to go various locations throughout Arls in order to gather items and ingredients, battle monster and explore and unlock new areas to name a few. Out of all the commodities within the game, time is the most important one. Every time you synthesize an item, go out gathering for ingredients, battle monsters and even explore new locations, time is consumed. Because of this, you need to keep an eye on how much time has passed in order to keep on track with meeting your lofty goals put forth by your father the king.

The combat system within Atelier Meruru is very similar to that of the first two games, but with a few enhancements here and there. You can have up three people within your immediate party and depending on their stats when entering a battle, determines if your team attacks first and/or how often you can attack before the enemy gets a turn. No matter what you are doing in the game, Meruru is at the heart of it. She will always be one of the three party members in your immediate control. Your team can consist of all alchemists or you can diversify your team. Alchemist are able to utilize items like bombs or health boosts in battle, while your other party members can deliver special attacks and stat boosters. When your party members deliver attacks, they build up a gauge that; once filled, will allow them to deliver a follow-up attack to your alchemist or defend them when they are being targeted.

The approach you take to meeting your required goals can be approached from three different ways. There is the military approach; strengthening the kingdom of Arl into a military might unlike anyone has seen. You can approach the growth of the kingdom through alchemy and expanding the teachings of it. You can also approach the game by tackling both at the same time for one well-rounded experience. No matter what path you take, there is an array of supporting characters that are there to see you grow into the person you are set out to be and support you in any way possible. Each task you complete on behalf of the kingdom is rewarded with building points to help build, expand and secure the livelihood of the Kingdom or Arls. Your party members can also benefit from these enhancements but receiving discounts within the kingdom’s shops or obtaining new texts on new alchemy spells. These tasks can range from killing every monster in a particular area to synthesizing certain items in order to cultivate new lands.

While completing tasks on behalf of the kingdom, you can take on more traditional quests given out at the tavern in Arl. Players of the first two games know about these quests all too well. The difference within the quests in this game is that there is no time limit on completing these quests. Completing these quests will help build your popularity within the kingdom, while also netting some cole for your shopping habit. Along the way you can take on personal quests on behalf of your fellow comrades, which will result in the increase of your friendship with those party members.

The visual presentation is very similar to that of Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland, however within an extra coat of polish. The visuals themselves are simplistic as the previous titles, however when looking at the characters, you will notice an added level of detail within their clothing and facial expressions. The environments are well designed and detailed in an artistic way. The music and voice action is well done, though there are moments where it seems the dialog runs on forever.

Depending on how you approach the game, you can easily complete it within 20-25 hours. The hook of this title is the multitude of characters and their connections to one another and Meruru. In order to see everything, including all possible endings, you will need to play through the game at least 2-3 times. For those familiar with JRPG titles, they will easily save multiple times along the journey, allowing them to see all possible endings without playing through the game from the beginning. There is no sign of multiplayer, which is a good thing considering many single-player experiences have suffered due to the addition of a multiplayer experience.

Fans of the trilogy like me will hate to see it end, but it was good to know that the trilogy did indeed end with a bang. Atelier Meruru packed an in-depth character roster of unique personalities than span all three games, which bring about unique and interesting moments and combat scenarios. Newcomers to the series can easily jump into this title and enjoy it, however for those wanting the total experience, I would recommend picking up the first two titles. The wealth of content packed into this one title is a welcome treat for those longing for a longer and more enjoyable experience outside a 4-6 hour fps single-player campaign.


Review copy of the game provided by publisher.

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