Atelier Dusk Trilogy Impressions
The Atelier Dusk Trilogy Deluxe Pack brings three of the acclaimed Atelier games from PlayStation 3 into the current gen on both PlayStation 4 and the Nintendo Switch, as well as on PC through Steam. Originally exclusive to the PS3, the three Atelier titles in the Dusk Trilogy – Ayesha, Escha & Logy, and Shallie – have had some noticeable improvements in making them feel less dated. Although this is not my full review of this trilogy, I wanted to share my impressions so far in exploring the beautiful and vivid Dusk series.
Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk
The first of title features a young herbalist as she journeys for a way to save her sister. I liked that she doesn’t start off immediately as an alchemist, and part of the story revolves around her discovering alchemy and what it takes to be an alchemist. Although the characters often come across more as cartoon caricatures, the humor that’s spliced in during dialogue and in missions admittedly had me laughing out loud.
There are a few quality of life improvements that have been added – which persist in both the other two titles as well – including a new “Run” feature that makes moving around in the world much faster, as well as a “Fast-forward battle” that helps reduce the monotonous battle system. Additionally, increased resolutions and textures are notable which made the world feel less like a last-gen game and more in-line with what an Atelier game should look like in 2020. Some character models do look their age, but overall the world was beautiful and engaging.
The biggest problem I have with Atelier Ayesha however is the time system that constantly ticks down. I don’t like any timed systems, and watching the days fly by in-game make me feel like I’m just wasting time. It’s almost panic-inducing, as I’m constantly worried about what things I need to do – or don’t do – to make sure I’m being as efficient as possible. Games like Persona and Harvest Moon always stress me out because of this system. That said, in the almost 10 hours I’ve played so far, I haven’t come across a situation where I couldn’t meet a deadline for some objective. So it does feel pretty generous with the amount of time you have to play around with.
Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky
The world starts to take a darker tone with the second installment, and I am very much interested in the setting introduced in Atelier Eshca & Logy. Instead of wandering the countryside, you are employed by a small local government to be an alchemist. This gave me some Fullmetal Alchemist vibes which I thought was pretty cool, and I am really excited to see more of where this story is going. So far, the Alchemists of Dusk Sky sounds like I will eventually be exploring the mysterious floating runes that loiter near the small town I’m working for.
There are two different protagonists to choose from, but it seems like both stories follow the exact same path just from two slightly different viewpoints. The battle system gets tweaked a bit as well, with a bit less emphasis on positioning and more-so on good old RPG battle systems. There have been a couple of faces that popped up from the first title that I thought were cool cameos. And for the most part, it runs really well, except for one issue: the background music is considerably louder than the spoken dialogue. It’s distracting when I’m listening to characters have a conversation, and the music is playing louder than the voices. Thankfully, the volume levels are adjustable in the menu, but it initially made me think that something was broken.
My old nemesis, the Time based objective system, rears its ugly head again here but this time it does seem more manageable. Objectives seem more clear-cut and there are pretty rigid deadlines and goals to meet every 4 months in-game. I kind of like this more business-oriented approach to time management in the world, but maybe that’s because I am more of a business-oriented person anyways.
Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Seas
In the third entry in the Dusk series, there is again another character choice. I liked that this one let me play through each protagonist a bit first before deciding, so I could get a feel for both of them. As far as I can tell, both protagonists’ stories will vary considerably more than in Escha & Logy, and I am more interested in going through this one twice so as to experience both sides. At this point, the world of Dusk is seeming pretty bleak – with towns being spread out far between each other and much-needed water starting to dry up.
Despite the doom and gloom setting, the protagonists as well as the supporting characters seem unfazed by it all and seem bubbly and cheerful despite. The battle system has undergone another change as well, and I think it’s the best one yet: just a strictly traditional turn-based system. I don’t have to worry about positioning or responding to block attacks, I just plan my moves and execute the action. This is definitely my preferred battle system out of all three Dusk titles, and I think it is really cool to see that evolution between all three games.
Additionally, the dreaded time-management system is no longer present in Atelier Shallie! Without that system, it felt a lot more freeing to go explore areas and gather resources. I could focus more on the activities that I enjoyed doing rather than having to worry about maximizing my time and being efficient.
Unfortunately, this third title is also when I experienced the most bugs and glitches. Even worse than in Escha & Logy, there were certain spoken dialogue lines that sounded incredibly faint, and others that seemed way too loud. The cut scenes seemed to stutter and hang, and there were instances while I was just walking through town that I would get stutters and frame-drops. I’m hoping that these problems were only in the beginning and hopefully I won’t encounter any more as I progress.
I have put a combined 20 hours in the Atelier Dusk Trilogy so far, and there is still so much to do – so many alchemy recipes to learn! I am excited to continue exploring the Dusk world and unravel the mysteries contained within. Although the time management system gives me anxiety, I don’t feel that it is unmanageable. And although the combat might be a bit simplistic at times, the improved features of this port, including fast-forwarding battles, help a lot to break down the tedious repetitive nature of its battle systems. I look forward to playing through all three Dusk stories and giving my full review at that time.