Editor: Diane Hutchinson Editor@girlgamersuk.com

The best “under the radar” long running JRPG series makes its debut on the Switch.

 
When talking about long running JRPG series, there are many names that would come up before the Atelier games. For some reason, the Atelier series has always seemed to be more of a niche product, appealing to those who at one point or another in the past couple of decades have stumbled upon an Atelier game and liked what they have found. Sure, they are not “in your face” games, but rather take a more relaxed approach with an emphasis on crafting over all else. But they are consistently well made and enjoyable. The latest game from Koei Tecmo is Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings, which happens to be the final entry in the Mysterious trilogy, not that this should scare players away as it is a self-contained story. The game is also the first Atelier title to make an appearance on the Nintendo Switch, hopefully bringing a whole new audience to this laid back JRPG series.

 
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As already mentioned, Atelier Lydie & Suelle is a stand alone game and can be enjoyed by players who are dipping their toes into the world of Atelier for the first time. In fact, given the sometimes complex systems for crafting and the occasional lack of explanation, I would say that this is probably the most accessible Atelier game so far, making it the perfect title to appear on a new console. However, the game is the third and final entry in the Mysterious trilogy, which started with Atelier Sophie and followed with Atelier Firis. Both of these titles are available on PS4, so anyone interested in working through all three will have to be multiplatform gamers.

 
But as I said, it is not necessary as the stories are self-contained. The story in Atelier Lydie & Suelle revolves around the two titular twin sisters. After the death of their mum, and with a somewhat useless dad, the girls take it upon themselves to build up their business and become the best alchemists that they can. A new ranking system has been introduced in the Kingdom and by working through the various tasks, the girls will be able to rise through the ranks and, eventually, become the greatest alchemists in the land.

 
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The story set up is quite sparse in that respect. Challenging the player to be the best is fairly light motivation. However, what really makes the story shine in Atelier Lydie & Suelle is the relationship between the two girls and the journey that they take together. The girls may be twins, but they are quite different, and they are written very well. They bounce off of each other and have an amazing depth, almost to the detriment of other characters who feel like they are simply invading on the twins’ story. Lydie and Suelle are great characters and their journey towards becoming the best alchemists can be exciting, funny and even emotional in places.

 
The Atelier games have always had a strong focus on crafting, and these complex systems have often been a barrier to entry for many gamers. Not much has changed in this respect. There are still too many options with not enough explanation of how these options will alter the outcome. it is not too difficult to grasp once you have spent some time in the game, but I can still see newcomers feeling slightly overwhelmed.

 
The gameplay generally revolves around picking up tasks from people, who usually want something, and then finding out what ingredients are needed for whatever they want. It is then a matter of heading off to wherever these ingredients can be found, gathering them up and then crafting the item. This will mean traveling off to various self-contained areas with a variety of different environments to find the items on the “shopping list”. This is where the Mysterious Paintings of the tile comes in, as the girls can find these paintings that act as portals to whole new areas to explore, filled with new ingredients to find. These magical areas tend to be themed in such a way that makes them completely unlike anything else in the normal game world, which makes them quite exciting to explore.

 
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It also means new monsters to fight. As the girls go off looking for their ingredients and such, they will come across monsters and have to defend themselves. Fortunately, the girls can look after themselves, and the combat system is quite straight forward. This is old-school turn-based combat, with the players characters and the enemies taking turns to act, be it melee combat or using magic of whatever. It is a simple system, one that doesn’t make any attempt to over complicate or try new ideas. As the player adds more characters to the team, things get a little deeper with rows and the like. The combat system almost takes a back seat to other goings on in the game, and as such the combat can get repetitive and players will find themselves rushing through encounters just to carry on with their journey.

 
However, this lack of emphasis on combat feels right in a game as laid back as Atelier Lydie & Suelle. As I already said, it is a much calmer JRPG than most, which is a large part of the charm. The visuals are pleasant, and the soundtrack is never likely to raise the blood pressure. It is all really nice.

 
Playing an Atelier game on the Switch is great. The portable nature of the platform compliments the steady gameplay, while playing on the big screen feels as comfortable as ever. The only issue is that there seems to be some frame rate issues on the Switch port. They never really affected my enjoyment of the game, but they were quite noticeable.

 
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Atelier Lydie & Suelle may be the latest in a long running series of JRPGs, but for many Switch owners, this will be something new. The crafting system can seem overwhelming, and the combat underwhelming. But the two lead characters are great, and the more relaxed pace offers a different type of JRPG gaming. For fans of the series, not much has changed. But for the newcomers, Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings is an enjoyable JRPG with a whole lot of crafting.

 

 ★★★★★★★½☆☆ 



 

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