Review: Atelier Lydie & Suelle ~The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings~ (PS4)

Review: Atelier Lydie & Suelle ~The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings~ (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Nintendo Switch
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • Blu-ray Disc
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
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Title: Atelier Lydie & Suelle ~The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings~
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (13.08 GB)
Release Date: March 27, 2018
Publisher: KOEI TECMO America
Developer: Gust
Original MSRP: $59.99 (US), £54.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: 12
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Atelier Lydie & Suelle is the third (and likely final) game in the Mysterious sub-series of Atelier games.

Following Atelier Sophie and Atelier Firis, Lydie & Suelle is about the titular twins who run a small atelier in a big town.

When the kingdom announces the Atelier Ranking system, a program to promote and assist various alchemists in the area, the two see it as an opportunity to boost their atelier and become the best alchemists in the nation.

As they begin to raise their rank, they discover the “mysterious paintings,” paintings done by alchemists that people can travel into. In addition to being a new place to explore, these paintings hold the key to unlocking the past.

Like previous Atelier sub-series games, Lydie & Suelle may come after the events of Sophie and Firis but the story is largely standalone. Though many familiar characters show up in Lydie and Suelle’s adventure, for example Illmeria who becomes the twin’s alchemy teacher, knowledge of past games is mostly unnecessary.

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That said, playing the past games does provide some context for a number of the side stories. Several of the supporting characters who show up here finally see some resolution on their storylines from previous games. It’s a nice payoff for those who played the whole series but Lydie & Suelle does build the stories so newcomers know what’s going on.

On a gameplay front, Atelier Lydie & Suelle builds on the on most of the systems seen in Atelier Firis. Alchemy is a large part of the game as always for the series and the combat is familiar with a few new twists. The Atelier gameplay loop of fighting, gathering, and synthesizing makes a strong display here.

Alchemy is the calling card of the Atelier franchise and it’s no slouch here. Rather than a simple Item A + Item B = Item C system of many RPGs, alchemy here is very involved and allows for a lot of customization. You can greatly influence the strength and abilities of the final product – at least near the end of the game.

Because the alchemy is fairly complicated for those who haven’t played fifteen of these games like me, this one starts off with only a shell of the alchemy and slowly introduces more aspects as Lydie and Suelle level up.

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While this does help new players, it can be frustrating for veterans like myself until all of the parts are unlocked. However once the game gets going, the system is a lot of fun. Minor tweaks from Firis make for some interesting changes and I enjoyed puzzling over recipes trying to make items just the way I wanted.

One interesting part of the alchemy is the change to synthesizing weapons. The series goes back and forth on how it handles this. Here, you can synthesize weapons at a specific vendor, however you can’t give them any traits when you do. Instead, you can create augmenting parts which can be slotted into weapons to give them different traits.

This is one of my favorite changes from past games. A downfall of the complicated alchemy in the Atelier games is not being sure if you want to use your rare or strong materials now or save them. Because these augments can be reused when you create stronger base weapons, I found it much easier to justify using my strong materials to create them.

Of course, gathering materials is a key part of alchemy and it plays a role here too as players explore the world and mysterious paintings. For the most part, exploring is pretty straightforward: run around collecting materials and fighting monsters. The mysterious paintings add some more fantastical areas to explore, which is a nice change of pace within the game.

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A time system that cycles between day and night adds to exploration as different monsters and materials show up at different time periods. The time system also puts a time limit on side quests but aside from a single request, the main story doesn’t have any time limits.

Combat is pretty straightforward and turn-based with a couple small flourishes. As always, alchemy plays a big role because bombs and other items can have a profound impact on the combat. However a buddy system, which allows a support character to perform certain support actions with their assigned attacker, also plays a big part in combat.

Overall, the fighting is good if you like turn-based combat. It doesn’t do a whole lot to set itself apart, though battle mixes make a decent attempt. Battle mixes let you use materials, and eventually items, to perform “alchemy” during battle. Though you’re only using a single material so it’s not anywhere near as involved as the actual alchemy, which is for the better.

Reused enemies, both from past games and as color-swaps in the game itself diminish the enjoyment of fighting a little but ultimately there’s enough good in there.

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My only other complaint is that advancement can get a little confusing at times. Some of the later game assignments aren’t always clear or have an unknown step missing. For example, at one point I was told to use some specific skills but I didn’t know where to get them. An alternate mission at that same time was to catch some specific fish and it seemed I would need to upgrade my fishing rod to do so, but I didn’t know where to get the recipe for a new rod.

These points aren’t too impactful, and for the most part continuing to just do stuff will eventually help you come across an answer. But the desire to reference a guide is there and I did so a few times when I didn’t feel like doing things completely aimlessly.

Visuals:
Though not a technical powerhouse, Atelier Lydie & Suelle looks decent enough. I doubt we’ll get a full current-gen looking game until the series drops the Vita version, but unless you look too closely at textures the game makes an okay approximation.

On the aesthetics front it holds up much better than the technical aspects. Characters are colorful and distinct with fun anime-style designs. The crazy combination attacks and different bombs are fun to watch and the aforementioned painting worlds offer some good variety in areas in which to explore and fight.

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Audio:
I really enjoyed the music in the game, as I often do with the series. Most of the areas have differing music during the day and night and Lydie and Sue get their own themes too, which is a nice touch. As always, you can swap out songs if you want, using a selection included with the game and some additional songs from other Gust games as DLC.

One area that might be a deal breaker for some potential players is the voices. Unlike the last bunch of Atelier games, Lydie & Suelle only has Japanese voices with no English option. I tend to prefer the Japanese voices because the English sometimes didn’t record every line but the complete lack of an option is a step back.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is one player only with no online component.

Conclusion:
Atelier Lydie & Suelle is a good entry into the Atelier series. The characters are fun to hang out with and the side characters getting some payoff from past games sweetens the deal for fans. As always, the alchemy is very interesting and does a great job rewarding players for their time.

I probably don’t need to recommend this game to Atelier fans but it’s worth the time. This is also a fine place to start for newcomers. I’d still recommend starting at the beginning of the trilogy but you won’t miss out on much by starting here, provided you’re the kind of gamer who is okay with the slower paced gameplay and story.

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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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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