Hey guys, sorry for my absence and lack of reviews, been going through a bit of medical issues. But no fear Gaarasaiyan is here with another review that I hope everyone will appreciate. The game I will be tearing apart today will be Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book. This is my first game in the Atelier franchise so I don’t know if they all link up in some way or not so my review will be based on this game alone. I have enjoyed it quite a bit. Which is why this review is going up later than it normally would. The game is full of content and quests as well as little skits between characters to see. Some are crucial to the story, others aren’t. But nonetheless they are all, for the most part, entertaining. So with that hefty little introduction, lets start dissecting this and see what makes it tick shall we? This review will be based on the PS4 version of the game.
Hi, My Name Is Sophie!
As you can probably guess by the title of the game the story focuses around the main character Sophie, whom you play as (surprise surprise). She doesn’t seem like much at first and the character definitely falls into the cliché clumsy anime teen girl category. But as the story unfolds you see she just isn’t your average cliché character. There is actually a bit of depth and substance to the character. She’s quite adorable at times and others quirky. You’ll soon start to enjoy the character you play as, and that’s a big plus in my book. There have been games like these that I didn’t like because who I played as, and it’s hard to enjoy a game once you already don’t like the main character. I mean who wants to play an entire game as someone they dislike?
These are my friends and this is my….book\friend?
There are plenty other interesting characters to meet and some even team up with you. Characters like Sophie’s childhood friends Monika and Oskar. Each have their own unique personalities and you’ll either love or hate them. Regardless, you’re stuck with them until you find more friends who want to go out adventuring with you. There is one other very unique character. The name is Plachta. (yes an odd name I know). Plachta is the other main focus and character of the game and is even referenced in the title. Yup, Plachta is the mysterious book. Plachta is alive somehow and the story unfolds around who or what Plachta is and how it came to be. For spoilers sake I won’t dive too much into this, but I will say Plachta sounds like a girl so I will say she from now on.
Ok I hit you, now it’s your turn to hit me.
One thing about this that I love, that I know others will not love, is that the combat is turn based. Yes, turn based! That combat style of RPGs that died back in the early 2000s. I miss turn based combat, some find it slow or boring, but I find it strategic and I have always enjoyed having to think my actions through instead of just mashing a button until something dies. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy action based RPGs as well, Kingdom Hearts is one of my favorites. But sometimes you want something a little different, and Atelier Sophie is definitely different for me. It’s more to the combat than just clicking attack or defend though. You can choose an offensive stance or defensive stance. Depending on what you choose decides what your attacks and joint attacks will do. After you fill a meter by constantly attacking you’ll perform a powerful combo move that deals massive damage if you choose offensive. If you choose defensive you’ll perform a powerful shield move that nullifies around 70% of the normal damage that would be done to you. That mixed in with the ability to use skills and items, the combat can make you have to stop and think about your next move. Especially against the more powerful enemies. As stated before, aside from attack and defend, you have item and skill. Items are self explanatory, and skills usually are too, but I’ll elaborate a bit. Skills are attacks or sometimes buffs that will aid in battle. For example, Oskar has two skills that prove very useful. Spinning Shovel is where he attacks a group of enemies in a certain area. Aside from hitting multiple times, it also lowers the defense of the enemies. Another skill that is useful is Relaxing Herb. This is basically cure as it heals you a bit. Every character has their own unique skills, mastering them, and when to use them will ultimately decide if you win or lose a lot of harder fights. Combat is pretty simple at first, but gets tough down the line.
You think you know but you have no idea.
The game is massive for such a small file. Coming in at just a little over 5GBs. And what I mean by massive is the amount of content packed in. Right when I thought I had played enough to get a basic understanding of the game, something happens and a new gameplay mechanic opens up. For the sake of the story I can’t say what those things are as they would definitely spoil it for you. Just know you’ll be playing this for hours and hours on end. Gameplay-wise, it’s very solid. I haven’t had any issues where I ran into a bug or glitch of any kind. I have my complaints as well and I’ll touch on that in just a second. I’ve spoke on the combat, but there is another gameplay element you’ll use regularly. Alchemy is the other side of the coin to this game. You’ll spend just as much time at your alchemy cauldron as you will out in the field fighting enemies and gathering materials to put in said cauldron. The alchemy process is pretty simple. Every item has a value and a shape. When you’re in the Atelier making different things in your alchemy cauldron, you’ll basically be playing a form of Tetris. At first you can only place the shapes, you can’t move or rotate them in any way. But as your alchemy skills increase, you’ll gain access to better versions of your cauldron as well as newer cauldrons altogether. The more you tinker with alchemy in the game, the better you’ll get at it. You’ll soon be making amazing things to use, to sell, and even later on, to gift people.
The one major complaint I have with the game is the lack of variety of enemies as well as weapons and armor. For the most part, they are either palette swaps of the enemies you’ve already battled, or a slightly larger version with a different name. As far as the weapons and armor, often they didn’t even change colors, just names. For example, your 1st and 3rd weapon will look the same but have a different name. I understand sometimes things have to be done in the sake of time, but this just feels outright lazy. Regardless of that fact, the story and gameplay are enough to over look it. But still at times you find yourself sitting there thinking “I wished I would run into something different.” As for complaints, that’s honestly the only one I have with Atelier Sophie.