Release Date: October 29, 2019
Rating: T (Teen)
Platforms: Nintendo Switch/Playstation 4/ Microsoft Windows (Steam)
What’s It All About?
Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness and the Secret Hideout is the latest entry in the Atelier series, which has been churning out JRPGs focused on alchemy since 1997.
This one focuses on Ryza, a girl who lives in a small village on a small island. She spends her time running around the island with her friends Lent and Tao instead of helping her parents work their farm. And when two strangers show up, Ryza becomes an alchemist and sets out on an adventure to discover her island’s secrets.
If you love crafting and gathering in video games like I do, then you’ll love Atelier Ryza. Like other Atelier games, the big focus here is on alchemy. Because of that, you’ll spend lots of time running around ruins, forests, and scenic beaches gathering items to make stuff.
The game does a great job of providing tutorials for the different aspects of alchemy–which can get a little tricky as the story progresses. And it’s also really fun. Sometimes, I’d craft weapons and other items for hours to try to get new and interesting recipes. So, if crafting and gathering is your cup of tea, then Atelier Ryza is the game for you!
But, the game’s still an RPG. As such, there’s plenty of monsters and battles. While it’s not the main focus of the game, you’ll still spend plenty of time in combat. I know some people weren’t fans of the new combat system in Atelier Ryza, but I enjoyed it. You can switch between characters to control in battle, or rely on the AI to control your other two party members. And if you’re worried about the AI, don’t be. I had zero trouble with the AI during my play-through.
The music is pretty good, too. While I was running around gathering stuff in forests or fishing off docks, the soundtrack was pleasant and kept me relaxed. The voice acting is only in Japanese, which I can’t understand, so I turned it down completely in the options menu. As such, I just read the English subtitles and listened to the relaxing tunes.
Oh, and did I mention this? The game looks amazing! From the starting village and surrounding farmlands, to the mysterious ruins late in the game, to the design of the main character, everything in the game looks great. I’m not sure how many screenshots I took during my play-through, but it was a lot.
I don’t have many complaints with Atelier Ryza. One of the areas, however, that I felt needed improvement was the story and characters. I wasn’t expecting a sprawling epic or anything, but I was still a little underwhelmed with the run-of-the-mill narrative and vagueness of some of the major plot points.
I was also disappointed with how basic a lot of the characters seemed to be. While Ryza, Lent, and Tao all seem to have fairly decent personalities, the other playable characters were only so-so. Lila has one of the worst designs for a character I’ve ever seen. And the main NPCs? Other than your childhood friend/rival Bos, none of them were more than faces and names. I guess what it boils down to is that while I liked the characters fine, I don’t think I’ll remember any of them in a year.
Honestly, the translation needed some work. Some of the dialogue felt stilted at times and just downright terrible at others. On more than a few occasions there were typos or grammatical errors. Every time “Pleasewait…” (that’s right–ONE WORD!) would pop up on a load screen, it’d make me cringe. Other than that, though, I don’t have any major problems with the game.
Atelier Ryza is a great addition to the Atelier series, and I think it will serve as a great first for newcomers (like me). After playing it, I’m now eager to get into some of the other games that are available on Switch. If you can overlook some dialogue and translation missteps, and as long as you love crafting and gathering, I think you’ll enjoy it.