We were given a chance to check out the second in the Mysterious trilogy of Atelier games. How will Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey hold up?
The story follows Firis, who, in the beginning, resides in a small mining village known as Ertona. This village is located within a mountain, and the locals are quite frightened of the outside world, thanks to its population of monsters. As a result, Firis has never seen the outside, which she dearly wishes to, just like her older sister, Liane, who has seen it numerous times. She is quite a capable warrior, assisting the town by traversing the lands.
One day, Sophie and Plachta, who are on their own journey, come across the door leading into Ertona. Sophie is seeking alchemists to sign off so that she can become a certified alchemist, and, hoping there is one within Ertona, blows the door open. The two meet Firis and, after a bit, Sophie agrees to teach her some alchemy.
Armed with this new knowledge, Firis once again begs to be allowed to go outside. Her parents finally relent, but impose a strict condition; She must become an alchemist within one year of leaving the village, else she will have to return. Liane decides to accompany her sister to protect her along the journey, and so the two set off as Firis attempts to pass the exam.
The tale presented is a truly heartwarming story of determination, sisterhood, and friendship. This even ties into the very gameplay via the battle system, which we will get to a bit later. Overall, the coming of age story of Firis is quite a fun journey, and the story, though it may not be the most unique, does tend to hook you and make you want to keep playing.
As you may gather from the story and title of the game, Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey is definitely about the journey itself, and, as a result, feels quite a bit less homey than prior titles. Fans are used to having a central town inhabited by friendly faces that you grow to know, but the open-world setup this title opts for may make it feel a bit less welcoming to fans. You will, as you explore, meet quite a few familiar faces (if you’ve played prior games), such as Oskar, Escha, Logy, Pamela, and Fritz.
As you explore, you have a total of 100 LP, which acts as stamina. This is utilized bit by bit as you perform actions, such as gathering. You can replenish your LP at your portable atelier, which you can set up at any campfire point you discover. You can also, upon discovering these campfire points, warp between them, although this does take time.
As you explore the vast open environments, you will come across forests, deserts, plains, snowfields, and even bustling cities. Having never stepped foot outside of Ertona before, all of this is extremely fascinating to Firis, who will typically remark on everything new.
You will also discover countless non-player characters who can run shops, provide you with quests, and even, in some cases, join your party. In terms of the quests they provide, they can have you exploring as you try to track down certain creatures, items, and even points of interest. As you may imagine, it is quite easy to become distracted and lose track of time, but the time limit of one year isn’t as imposing as it may seem at first.
Alchemy and battles integrate quite well as well. Prior games allow you to become more powerful by, for example, upgrading your equipment at a blacksmith. In Atelier Firis, on the other hand, much of your equipment will need to be hand-crafted, and while you can buy some, your carefully crafted creations typically beat out what’s available at the shops. Items can also quickly turn the tide of battle, with bombs, salves, and snacks feeling quite a bit more useful than they did in some of the previous titles.
On the note of battle, you will attack, utilize items, and use your various learned skills. As you attack, a gauge increases, and, if Firis herself is attacked, you can hit a corresponding button to have one of her party members leap in front to protect her (the tie-in I mentioned before). This decreases the gauge a bit when it is performed, and, if the gauge is filled, you can unleash your Chain Bursts to string attacks together and increase your damage multiplier.
On the note of alchemy, the system is quite similar to Atelier Sophie’s. You have a grid in which you will place your ingredients to maximize results. There are certain special nodes as well, and if you manage to get all highlighted it will bestow more abilities.
One interesting idea that was included is the new idea point system. Utilizing this, Firis can actually redeem points in order to learn new recipes. Of course, each recipe can also be learned by accomplishing certain mystery tasks, which are hinted at in the encyclopedia.
If you do run out of time, which, if you actually explore the entire continent prior to the exam, you may, you will have to start over from the beginning. That said, you do retain some accomplishments, but it can be quite annoying to run out of time.
Graphics and sound
The audio is what one would likely expect from an entry in the Atelier series, and fans will likely be pleased to know that the dual-audio option returns. The graphics are also quite nice for the most part, although the caves look the same and many of the regular NPCs can also start looking quite alike after a while.
Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey is another title that hits most of the correct notes, with only a few things holding it back. The decision to go open world was an interesting one, and ultimately, in my opinion, one that was well worth taking. Fans of the series should find plenty to love about this title, and newcomers can easily jump off on it, despite being the second in the trilogy.
Final Score: 4.5/5