Review: Atelier Escha & Logy Plus ~Alchemists of the Dusk Sky~ (PSV/PSTV)

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Platforms:

  • PlayStation 3
  • PlayStation Vita

Extras:

  • PlayStation TV Compatible Yes
  • Cross-Buy No
  • Cross-Save No
  • Cross-Play No
  • Cross-Chat No
Title: Atelier Escha & Logy Plus ~Alchemists of the Dusk Sky~
Format: Game Card / PlayStation Network Download (2.8 GB)
Release Date: January 19, 2016
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Developer: Gust Co. Ltd.
Original MSRP: $39.99
ESRB Rating: E10+
Atelier Escha & Logy ~Alchemists of the Dusk Sky~ is also available on PlayStation 3.
The PlayStation Vita download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Editor’s Note:
Portions of this review also appear in our PS3 coverage of Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky. For the new features of the Vita version, skip to the last few paragraphs of the gameplay section.

Gameplay:
Set in the same world as Atelier Ayesha, Atelier Escha & Logy takes place in the remote village of Corseit and is centered on two alchemists: Logix “Logy” Fiscario and Escha Malier. Both join the Corseit Government’s Research and Development team on the same day and are tasked with using their alchemy to help develop the town and to explore and document local points of interest.

A set of floating ruins, known as the “Unexplored Ruins,” hang in the sky near Corseit surrounded by violent winds that cannot be navigated by current airships. Despite that, the ruins remain an alluring prospect for researchers and treasure hunters, attracting many colorful folks to the little village of Corseit and setting the stage for Escha and Logy’s adventure.

Right off the bat, the player is offered the choice of playing as either Escha or Logy. The choice doesn’t really change much, mostly just a few events during the game and a few of the possible endings. The main plot is the same regardless of the choice thanks to Escha and Logy being joined at the hip for pretty much all of it.

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Not that the Atelier games usually care a whole lot about the overall plot. The main story meanders about for the first half of the game, as Escha and Logy use alchemy to solve smaller problems in and around Corseit, with the main plot really only kicking in for the last quarter of the game. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. It’s more a welcome change of pace from the typical JRPG “chosen one to save the world from an ancient evil” than anything else. Atelier Escha & Logy instead spends the time to introduce the player to world and all the characters.

A few of the side characters can come off as a bit one-dimensional, and the characters that are carry overs from Atelier Ayesha haven’t moved past the issues we supposedly helped them solve in that game, but overall it’s hard not to come to enjoy the characters and world the game presents.

… the back line …
On the gameplay front, Atelier Escha & Logy consists mostly of alchemy, exploring and fighting. Combat plays out in a fairly traditional turn based system. There’s a small system of positioning, as your characters can move to one of three locations around the group of enemies and attacking characters get a bit of bonus damage if they’re attacking the enemy from behind. However, moving takes up a character’s turn and the party starts the battle spread out so there really isn’t much need to move in most battles.

In addition to special attacks and support abilities seen in other Atelier games, one new system in Escha & Logy is the back line. Once the player has more than three characters in their party, additional characters sit behind the active characters where they can use support attacks or be swapped with the active character during combat.

It’s a great addition to the series as it allows the player to have access to the majority of the playable characters in each battle, rather than being forced to leave all but two other characters in town. The combat system may be traditional, but that doesn’t prevent it from being an overall solid system.

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Of course, it wouldn’t be Atelier if there wasn’t also alchemy. Perhaps the biggest draw to the series is the depth of the alchemy systems and Escha & Logy is firing on all cylinders here. Fortunately for beginners, the alchemy starts off slow. Just add a couple of items together and “presto change-o”, you’ve got a new item.

However, by the end of the game, performing alchemy involves taking into account a wide variety of stats on each ingredient (native effects, elemental points, effect power) plus the order that you add the ingredients in and the timing of a plethora of alchemy skills.

It is a dizzying number of systems to juggle all at once, trying to fit everything together to get the the desired result is a lot like a puzzle. The payoff is pretty rewarding though, once the player has a full grasp of the system. For example, late in the game I found a level 37 sword on a boss I defeated and it had weaker stats than the level 26 sword I had synthesized much earlier. Some of the optional content near the end of the game is difficult, if not impossible, without a strong grasp of the alchemy.

… hurry up and stop …
The eventual goal of the combat and alchemy are to help develop the town of Corseit. To that end, Escha and Logy are given a set of tasks every four months. Performing alchemy, fighting, gathering ingredients, moving around on the over world map; all of these actions take up time. If the thought of everything being timed is distressing, rest assured that Atelier Escha & Logy is fairly lenient. I was able to complete the main task for each period within a few weeks at most.

Once the main task is complete for a period, Escha and Logy are given Free Time (they hit “being a government worker” pretty well, huh?) to do as they please or work on the other twenty-four optional tasks. Perhaps this is a veteran of Atelier games speaking but I found the limits perhaps even too lenient. This lead to a feeling of “hurry up and stop” as I rushed to finish the term’s tasks and then found myself with several weeks or months without any main tasks left.

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There are still a few things to do, such as requests, the occasional optional boss, or spending time coming up with better synthesized items but on a couple of occasions I just slept to pass time until the new term to get things moving again.

In the PS3 version, the translation seemed poor and rushed but fortunately the localization team seems to have given the Vita version an extra once-over and fixed many of the issues I had found.

The Vita version otherwise doesn’t make a ton of changes to the game. There are a few extra bosses at the very end of the game and all of the DLC characters are included. There is also one “new” character, Nio, from Atelier Ayesha who is playable in that game but wasn’t playable in Atelier Escha & Logy on PS3. Finally, there have also been a very few dialogue choices added to the game and the choices can lead to a few new story events that impact the relationship between Escha and Logy.

… pretty good for a Vita title …
Visuals:
Atelier Escha & Logy was the first Atelier game to use Koei Tecmo’s Musou game engine, and it shows best in the characters. The playable characters are especially well detailed and look great. Enemies look good as well, but the game does frequently toss in re-skins of old enemies so there isn’t all that much variety.

NPCs look a bit blander and sometimes don’t manage to load fast enough to avoid some pop-in when going between areas in town. Though this is much less of an issue than it was in the original game. Character animations are still a bit stilted though, especially during some cutscenes and rarely consist of more than a few canned animations.

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Perhaps this was to spend more time on battle animations, though, as the battle animations fare a lot better. Special attacks especially serve up a great level of flair whether it’s Logy bashing enemies around with his sword or Escha tossing bombs. Environments are more of a mixed bag but are still a marked improvement over past games in the series.

Overall, the visuals are pretty good for a Vita title and have survived the port nearly intact. While some of the previous Atelier ports suffered a small performance loss during the port, Atelier Escha & Logy Plus only runs slightly worse than its PS3 counterpart to the point where it was almost not even noticeable.

… wonderful ambiance …
Audio:
For the main story content, Atelier Escha & Logy contains both an English dub and the original Japanese voices. The Japanese voices are actually not included in the base game but are available as a free download on the PSN. I made it a point to switch between the voice tracks and found the Japanese to be the better of the two.

That said, most of the English voices are pretty good as well. Logy and Reyfer come to mind as some of the better voices but all of the playable characters are at least passable. What drags the game down are some of the NPCs that sound awkward and uncomfortable in their roles.

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The biggest problem, however, with the English dub is that it is only partial. Some scenes that are voiced in Japanese are not voiced in English. This is somewhat unfortunate, but not entirely unexpected given the niche nature of the game.

No matter the voice track, the soundtrack remains great. From the catchy theme in the Homunculus village to the great ‘explorer’ feeling evoked by the over world music, the game’s soundtrack provides wonderful ambiance.

The one sticking point for me is the music in Escha and Logy’s Atelier. While not a bad song on its own, it grew tiresome when on repeat for several hours as I was synthesizing items. Fortunately, the game has a couple dozen songs from older Atelier games and lets you substitute those for the ones in the game. I eventually started rotating what was being played in the Atelier which kept me from getting too bored of any one song.

… There’s a lot to love …
Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only with no online component.

Conclusion:
The Vita version is definitely the recommended version for those who haven’t played the original version of Atelier Escha & Logy. However, there isn’t all that much added and most of it is stuck near the end of the game so the port is less recommended for those who played it on PS3.

There’s a lot to love about Atelier Escha & Logy: be it the fun characters, the laid-back story, the deep alchemy system, or the solid combat systems. My biggest complaint is that the game leans a little too far towards easy for the main story.

But if the idea of spending twenty minutes doing a daisy-chain of synthesis to get the perfect effects on a bomb and then taking the bomb out into the field for a hands-on test excites you as much as it does me, your time with Atelier Escha & Logy will be well spent.

Score:
8.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Vita’s built in screen capture feature.

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Written by Andy Richardson

Andy Richardson

A longtime PlayStation fan who enjoys JRPGs and rhythm games when he’s not tweeting about his parrot.

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