Huge thank you to the good folks at Koei Tecmo for providing us a review code for Atelier Escha and Logy!
The Atelier games have been around in the States for sometime now. The Atelier Iris games arrived back on the Playstation 2 in 2005 and since then the series was established as a fixture in the Playstation 3 RPG library, even spreading over onto the the Vita library in the Plus ports. The latest title released is the Plus port of Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky, which was originally released March 11th, 2014. Will this title continue Gust and Koei Tecmo’s track record of well-done enhanced ports, or did it need a bit more time in the cauldron?
From the title alone, it’s obvious this game is a bit different from previous Atelier titles. This time, you take control of Logix “Logy” Ficario and Escha Malier, new Alchemists hired in the small town of Corseit’s R&D Division. You heard right–there are two main alchemists this time around. When you start a new game, you are able to select from either Logy or Escha’s perspective you wish to play the game through. There are some differences in terms of events and the ending depending on who you pick at the beginning, but regardless of this choice the main narrative is the same and you can have both characters in your party.
For the purposes of this review, I decided to select Logy as my main protagonist for my time in Corseit. Escha and Logy is the second title in the Dusk Trilogy, taking place about 4 years after the beginning of the previous game, Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk. As new alchemists for the local R&D Division, it is up to you to help in discovering the secrets and explore the ruins that are floating near Corseit. Ruins that are simply called, “The Unexplored Ruins”.
Same Recipe, New Ingredients
If you have played any of the other previous Atelier games then you already have a good grasp on what to expect with Escha and Logy. The game is divided into nine 4-month chunks in which you work to complete specific tasks to progress the story, accompanied by minor side quests that can boost your rating and net you rewards. As an alchemist, you are given tasks that must be completed within a specific timeframe, with bonus missions and tasks to improve your alchemical skills and fame level. At the heart of any good alchemist game is the cauldron, and it will be here that spend a decent amount of your time synthesizing and creating healing, attack, and story items. Throughout the course of the game, additional tools unlock even more items for synthesizing and you will have to rely on Homunculi to assist you in creating goods.
Any good alchemist knows that you need prime ingredients to create the best items! In order to do that, you will have to explore, gather, dissemble, and more to get the required goods. While in the field, you will encounter monsters where you will get some good old-school turn based goodness. You will have access to a number of items from bombs to salves to assist you. The only caveat is that you have to craft those useful items prior to exploring. But the process of exploring, gathering, and synthesizing is at the core of Escha and Logy.
With this being Atelier Escha and Logy PLUS, there has to be something extra to this title to make worthy of its name, right? This version contains all the DLC that was released for the PS3 version: new costumes for your characters, a series of additional challenging missions and boss enemies, new event scenes inspired by the Escha and Logy anime which dive further into the relationship between the main characters, and even the inclusion of the new playable character, Nio Altugle. Fans of the previous game, Atelier Ayesha, will recognize Nio as the younger sister of the main protagonist from the prequel. She originally filled in simply as a support role in the original PS3 Escha and Logy release, but has been promoted this time around to a fully playable character! All of this added content to an already packed RPG with 2 character choices, 11 different endings, and bunch of side content, make for a portable game that will keep you busy for a good long while.
A Console Experience That Works…For the Most Part
Visually speaking, Escha and Logy is a beautiful game, and the anime art style looks absolutely gorgeous on the Vita’s screen. The character designs and presentations paired with the great English voice cast (love me some Johnny Yong Bosch) do a great job of conveying the personalities of the characters. For those of you with a PS TV, you will be happy to know that it is compatible as well! You will find a good amount of your standard anime archetype characters in this game, from the stoic but-not-too-serious Logy, to the bubbly, still learning Escha. You are bound to find the cast likable. While this game still looks and sounds great, being a console game put on a handheld, the performance does occasionally take a noticeable dip. I found that especially in the R&D headquarters and surrounding Corseit, the characters animations seem to take a hit and aren’t as fluid as in other locations of the game, and you are in that area a good deal of the time. While not game breaking, it did annoy me at times, as it was a contrast to the quality in other areas.
A Fun Time and a Great Title for Long Trips
Although I have not played Atelier Ayesha (the first title in the Dusk Trilogy), I can still say that I enjoyed my time with Atelier Escha and Logy PLUS. I am sure that those who have played the first game will have an even better time with Escha and Logy then I did. My main gripe with the Atelier series has been the the repetition that the game builds itself on. The repeating cycle of get tasks, explore and gather, turn in tasks, drags on me after a time, but I still find myself wanting to push the deadline to the last possible day in order to gather those last remaining plants I need to make that new bomb or salve. This series has been around for a long time, and it shows no signs of stopping. Aside from the few performance issues I encountered, it is incredibly impressive that quality of this console port is for the Vita. The world and story I was presented in Escha and Logy was certainly engaging enough to convince me to go back and try Atelier Ayesha as well, before the final part of the Dusk Trilogy is released. At the end of the day, if you like the Atelier series, you know what you are getting with Escha and Logy, and will enjoy it. If you are new to the series and you aren’t a fan of fetch quests or having to do the same thing over and over again, you may want to check somewhere else for your RPG kicks, or borrow the game before purchasing it.
- Beautiful anime art style
- Great soundtrack and voice cast
- A lot of content for a handheld experience
- Rinse-repeat formula
- Occasional performance issues