- Developer: Gust Co. Ltd.
- Publisher: KOEI TECMO
- Release Date: 22/04/2021
- Price: £32.99 / $39.99
- Review code provided by KOEI TECMO
Introducing: Atelier Firis Review
As many of you know by now, I am a huge fan of JRPG’s and games with heavy crafting systems. So then why have I never attempted one of the Atelier games? I know they are heavy crafting focused exploration JRPG’s and yet I seemed to have spent my time playing games actively avoiding them. Well, I saw doing a review of Atelier Firis as a way to change all that. So join me as I take my first steps into this long standing alchemy based JRPG series.
I Just Want to go Outside Mom
The story of Atelier Firis:The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey DX follows the adventure of the new fledgling alchemist, Firis Mistlud. She meets Sophie, an alchemist that basically blows her way into the sealed town that Firis lives in. Sophie starts to teach Firis alchemy. The story follows Firis’s first journey into the outside world. The main goal is to get three recommendations from licensed alchemists and pass the Alchemist Exam so that Firis can stay outside forever.
Okay game, you got my attention so far and it was refreshing to see a game world from the eyes of a character that had never explored it. Almost to a somewhat child-like wonder degree of excitement. Though I do have some minor issues with the story of this game, which I will touch on a little later. So with that said, I was curious to see if this game played like I thought it would.
JRPG Combat with a Dash of Bombs
I wasn’t surprised by the game play elements that I saw. Most of the game mechanics were fairly standard for games with a JRGP turn based combat system. There were a couple of differences though. There was a guarding mechanic where party members could use a bond gauge to guard Firis from enemy attacks. I thought this made sense for the first party member since it is literally Firis’s older sister, but not so much for the others.
Being that the game has a focus on you crafting your own battle items and such through alchemy, I was surprised to see the heavy hand towards using battle items. You can regularly attack enemies, but their health quickly out speeds the rate at which you find higher equipment. So it is more beneficial to just throw battle items, which are usually some sort of bomb item. Though those do take time to create and well, I have a slight issue with that.
Time Limits on Literally everything
So, Firis is told that the Alchemist Exam is within a year, and prior to being allowed to leave the town you do a series of quests on a time limit. Well, when they say a year they mean you have 361 in-game days in order to get to the exam point in the story. This would be all fine and good except for a few game mechanics that I rather disliked going on.
We have the fact that you need to craft basically everything you want to use. And as I said, those items take time to craft. So you will spend periods of crafting that will burn over 3 days of your in-game time just to stock on a few items. There are shops around the game, but they usually just sell materials for you to craft those items.
There is an activity points system that limits how much travelling and gathering that you can do before needing to rest. Now you can get gear to help maximize your gathering and exploration, but that isn’t until later generally. Thankfully, you can gain these points, as well as HP and MP, back while crafting items. So typically I would just do my gathering while making blind progress in the game and then crafting what I needed next.
The Alchemy Crafting Method
When I said I wanted a good crafting system, I do have to say that this game did not disappoint. I was left marveled by some of the ideas for crafting they had. The grid based ingredient placement seems rather intuitive, but I also found that ingredient quality mattered more towards getting bonus talents/perks on your current crafted item than grid placement.
The idea system for getting new recipes was neat, but it required you to spend time doing repetitive tasks that you simply don’t have the time to be doing. Now you could complete side quests for some idea points and use those to unlock recipes, but the game doesn’t clearly tell you that.
Such a Big World and No Time to See It
The world of Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey DX is rather massive. It has numerous dungeons, and side areas to explore and find new resources and recipes in. Though due to the aforementioned time limit I either didn’t get a chance to see them or I had to rush through them. I don’t know about most people, but I tend to play JRPG’s at a leisurely pace. This time limit caused me to rush through areas that I would have preferred to explore in great depth. I am sure to some this is a charm of the series, but it just hurt my overall experience with the game overall.
Exam Time is Here
So, you get all the way through Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey DX and you go to finally take the Alchemist Exam. Though during your time with the game, there is no reason to know what to expect from this exam. No one tells you what you need to be prepared for at all. So I got to the exam with my best battle items and expected something along the line of combat. Well, that was partially right anyway.
The Alchemist Exam is split into three parts, a timed multiple choice test, a synthesis item test, and a combat damage test. The multiple choice test was really weird as it would ask you random questions about specific monster locations and some questions like, “What item would be best to use during combat?” just seemed subjective to what the right answer should be. The synthesis item portion, well there is no real way to know you have to prepare top components ahead of time so I got stuck making a lower quality item. Lastly, you have a one-turn battle against a monster to deal the best damage you could. I chucked my best bomb at it and did basically nothing.
After completing the three portions you get given a grade and told if you pass or not. Well, because of how this game doesn’t seem to prepare you for this exam until you are no longer able to leave the exam town, this reviewer did not manage to pass the exam. So I got to see the bad ending and didn’t get to experience the super strong post game bosses or quests. Which is a shame because my friends tell me that these games really shine in their post game.
So, Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey DX was a weird experience for me. I went into this expecting a fun and heavy crafting game, and I did get that to some extent. But there were so many design choices, like blind progression and a time limit system, that just hurt the game for me overall. Perhaps this series is just not for me, and I am sure there are others who would not have had the issues I did as a newcomer to the series. Ultimately, Atelier Firis used too many archaic systems that even the stuff they added to the game couldn’t save it for this first-time player to the series.
- Charming characters and world building
- Really fun crafting system
- Little to no guidance in the game for what you should do and where you should go.
- Monster scaling is faster than the rate at which you learn to make new gear
- Time constraint limits exploration