Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Dream Review
If you are familiar with JRPGs, you might have heard about the Atelier series by now. It is one of the longest-running series not just in terms of its age but also with the number of entries it has produced so far. It is remarkable how a new game continues to get made every year or so and these are all highly polished and entertaining products. While they might start to appear formulaic, there have been steps made to ensure that each new game brings in something new and that started with Atelier Ryza followed by its sequel.
Atelier Sophie is the second game in the series to earn a sequel. This game, like Atelier Ryza, expands on the plot introduced in the first game and introduces new characters to the franchise. It looks to employ the same engine as the most recent Atelier sequel, which means the graphics are noticeably better than in previous Atelier games. Unlike Atelier Ryza 2, there is no native PS5 version, but the game itself does not appear to lose much of its appeal.
While this is a sequel, there is no need to play the original game because a long summary condenses the narrative into a sing that is easily understandable. The sequel puts Sophie and Plachta in the spotlight, but the rest of the cast is totally new, so even if you have no recall of these characters, you may still have a good time. Plachta and Sophie are both drawn through a weird portal at the beginning of the story and wind up in this new world known as Erde Weige. Sophie awakens alone in this new world and must work with another Atelier to find Plachta.
Like each new Atelier game, there is a wonderful cast of characters that are introduced gradually over the story. The game’s start is slow since it attempts to create the lore of this new world. It appears to be a place where individuals gather to make their dreams come true. Sophie, who aspires to be the finest alchemist there is, sets off on another adventure, not only to find her friend Plachta but also to embark on another personal path of growth with a new group of friends.
The Atelier series has long been noted for its laid-back gameplay. This pattern was followed in Atelier Sophie 2, which introduced new systems and refined previous ones. The exploration part remains the same, with the player venturing out into the wilderness to gather materials for new Alchemy recipes. This time, there are two Alchemists, so you have numerous factors to consider while learning new crafting recipes, and you may continue to master Alchemy as you progress through the game.
The game’s meat is exploration and crafting, although the combat system is also pretty fun on its own. It’s a turn-based JRPG in which you command a group of party members. There are variations in the fundamental combat, such as Twin Actions or Support Guard, that keep the action interesting, but if you’ve just finished Atelier Ryza, this seems like a step back. Because the battles are appropriately spaced, you are never pushed to fight in the world. Exploration differs in that you can affect the weather or employ tools that provide you with an additional benefit for making recipes.
The new Alchemy system has made it easier and more enjoyable to obtain recipe upgrades. This is described in a tutorial when you make the first recipe, but the system’s subtleties do not become apparent until later in the game. The new Alchemy employs a grid-based architecture that is built on slots. This time around, learning is much simpler since if something new is offered, a tutorial goes through the fundamentals. If we put the elements correctly on the grid, keeping in mind their weakness and strength, it can result in a significant increase in their efficacy. While the combat was a setback for me, the enhanced Alchemy makes it largely irrelevant.
So, with a fun Alchemy system and some decent exploration, what are the game’s flaws? To begin with, I am not a fan of the story or the character banter. While Sophie and some of the party members can be tolerated and given a chance, others appear to be purposefully stupid, and most of the conversation is heavy-handed babble that just does not serve any purpose. The plot is straightforward, with a focus on Sophie’s personal development and life lessons, and, luckily, no world-ending conflict.
If you’ve played any of the other Atelier games, you’ll love this one. Because the Atelier series has never been renowned for its combat system, and Alchemy is its meat and bone, Sophie 2 has provided one of the most entertaining changes to the system, which I hope continues in any future games.
Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Dream Game Information
- Price: $59.99
- Publisher: Koei Tecmo
- Developer: Gust
- Platform: PS4 (Reviewed)
- Disclaimer: A review code was given by the publisher