It’s the little issues that make or break a game for me. Games that present story recaps for gamers are one of many best methods to immerse them into your story, and is a welcoming function. While Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of Dreams does a number of issues poorly, the packaging is charming and polished sufficient on these little issues to maintain me . It has a straightforward to navigate and parse UI, clear-cut development, and an concerned crafting system. However, you need to take the great with the unhealthy, and there is sadly a honest quantity of unhealthy.
Moe is as moe does
Let’s preface by saying that this is a particularly anime game. Popular video games like Final Fantasy or Persona are anime within the sense that they’ve an anime artstyle and exaggerated battles, assaults, magic, and so forth — but the interactions between characters really feel human, and grounded in actuality. Atelier Sophie 2 virtually leaps off of mentioned floor. Ostensibly teenage and grownup human beings screech like youngsters in extraordinarily excessive pitches. If you’ve ever disliked an anime present the place the characters scream over minor inconveniences or overly exaggerate their response to pretty benign conditions, you’ll not like Atelier Sophie 2.
That isn’t a knock towards the game, nonetheless — there’s a marketplace for that kind of anime. This game fills it by way of its character interactions and overarching story threads. The story follows Sophie as she continues on her journey to change into an completed Alchemist — a career that may take fundamental supplies and mix them in a witch’s cauldron to create a fully-formed merchandise. Need a pickaxe? Just take two bars of metal and a few wooden and soften them in a cauldron stuffed with Baja Blast.
Dreaming of alchemy
She begins the game by exploring a forest together with her mentor and pal Plachta, an Alchemist whose soul first inhabited a e book, earlier than transferring to a scantily-dressed doll made by Sophie. They are on the lookout for a option to switch Plachta’s soul into her authentic physique once they stumble throughout a tree that — (bear with me right here) — absorbs them into a portal. Sophie finds herself in a dream world the place random persons are introduced in to meet their coronary heart’s strongest want. They can’t depart the dreamscape till these wishes are made manifest.
Once arrived, Sophie realizes that Plachta is nowhere to be discovered, and goes on a journey to search out her alongside a new crew of buddies — Alette (a treasure hunter with a physics-defying corset), Olias (a treasure hunter with a gunblade, but not that kind of gunblade), and Plachta. No, not the Plachta you’re looking for, but a Plachta from the previous. The story actually does get a little complicated at instances. There are extra characters to unlock, but revealing whom would delve closely into spoiler territory.
Even with the hyper-exaggerated anime tone, the characters do work together effectively with one another. Everything from Sophie and Plachta studying new issues about alchemy to Alette obsessing over methods to promote new supplies add a layer of depth and appeal to the characters — and these discussions occur exterior of cutscenes as effectively. Combat is pretty simple for JRPG followers, with assaults needing to be appropriately chosen to counter enemy elemental affinities. The “aura” mechanic, launched a few hours into the game, provides some depth to the simplistic JRPG battle — you need to break the shielding aura of sure monsters to do important injury to them, but in case you select the incorrect elemental assault you’ll set off a painful counter.
The dream is partially a nightmare
My gripes with Atelier Sophie 2 lie with the crafting and gathering system, which sadly makes up about half of the game. The overworld is plagued by tons of crafting supplies, and every new zone you unlock provides about 20 to 30 extra. The game does a poor job of letting you understand what supplies you want and what supplies you don’t. If, like me, you want to gather the whole lot, you’ll quickly discover your basket stuffed with about 20 copies of White Flowers (which was about 15 White Flowers too many.) Once your basket is full, you need to warp again to the Atelier to deposit all of it earlier than you may collect the rest. Thankfully, the method is practically quick, as a result of glorious load instances and an computerized deposit sequence that occurs after arriving.
Crafting is additionally a little convoluted. While you need to be taught the recipe to create the merchandise, and the recipe flat out states what supplies are wanted, crafting each single merchandise within the game requires you to unravel a puzzle grid. First, you select what supplies you need to use, as a result of every materials comes with its personal Tetris-style blocks for the puzzle grid. You then have to position the puzzle items on the grid to finish rows or columns, whereas additionally matching the items to the basic etchings within the grid itself. This could be attention-grabbing in case you didn’t must do it for each single craft— together with middleman crafts.
Additionally, there’s a complete host of results you may add to your crafted merchandise, starting from bonus injury or additional makes use of — but typically it appears like these bonuses don’t correspond to the ultimate product. What use is there for the “Uses + 2” impact when added to armor that shall be worn and by no means used? The sheer quantity of various results and materials decisions that go into each single merchandise you craft feels extraordinarily overwhelming.
Finally, the problem hits a fairly giant spike early on within the game. While I had been often scuffling with killing sure enemies, I hadn’t had hassle with any subject bosses or compelled encounters till I obtained to the Sea Dragon combat. The dragon was a whopping 14 ranges above me, and I may solely deal about 20% of its HP earlier than it took me out. This was a clear inform that I needed to go do some grinding, but that felt misplaced with the remainder of the game. The earlier boss was straightforward, and I fought it solely quarter-hour previous to the Sea Dragon.
To sum issues up, Atelier Sophie 2 is a effective game. With loads of tutorials and a fairly beneficiant map and logbook, you’ll by no means really really feel misplaced or confused whereas taking part in. However, the crafting and gathering might be overwhelming, and also you positively must have a style for significantly anime characters and tropes to immerse your self on this JRPG. Much just like the alchemy course of itself, Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of Dreams is flawed, but with time you could find a lot to like concerning the game.
|+||Fun characters and world|
|+||Easy to know battle mechanics|
|+||Good tutorialization and guideposts for practically the whole lot…|
|–||…aside from the crafting and gathering, which feels overwhelming to determine|
|–||Too many supplies and never sufficient bag house requires a lot of backtracking|