Do you like good games? Of course you do; as a reader of Rice Digital you are of course a person of immense culture and immaculate taste, and thus I shouldn’t even need to ask if you like “good games”.
Well, as someone who enjoys good games, you will be pleased to know that the Atelier Mysterious trilogy, consisting of Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book, Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey and Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings, has been rereleased today in its all-new “DX” incarnation for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and PC via Steam. So you know what to do.
Need more convincing? Here are eight great things about today’s Atelier Mysterious trilogy DX release.
Ladies in the lead
You know how certain people on the Internet are always complaining about how there are supposedly no games with good female leads — and that “incel chuds” (or other such unnecessarily combative language) will be “super mad” any time a game with a female lead does show up? The Atelier series almost single-handedly puts paid to that whole argument.
The Atelier series has been around since 1997 — yep, it’s as old as Final Fantasy VII — and out of all 22 of its mainline installments since that time, only four of them (Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana, Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny, Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm, Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis) have had a male lead, and only two more on top of that (Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy, Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky) have the option to play as a dirty horrible stinky boy.
That means 16 full games fronted by a delightfully varied cast of beautiful, lovely, wonderful girls — and the three Mysterious games are no exception to this rule. Hell, the original PS4 release of Atelier Firis was even part of an initiative that developer Gust called its “Beautiful Girls Festival” alongside the excellent Nights of Azure 2 and Blue Reflection.
You like being a lady? Atelier’s your series.
An underappreciated subseries
With the Atelier series having run for so long, it’s natural that certain parts of the franchise get more attention than others.
The Iris subseries is well-known for being the first Atelier games to come west back in the PS2 era. The Arland trilogy is noteworthy for being regarded as a good entry point to the series — as well as being the only subseries Gust has returned to in order to add a fourth installment. The Dusk series is regarded by most longstanding Atelier fans as a particular high point for “modern Atelier”. And, of course, we all know how Ryza has managed to attract probably the broadest audience the series has ever seen — even if one might argue it’s for less than wholesome reasons in some cases.
The Mysterious series, meanwhile, passed by relatively unnoticed here in the west when it first came out on PlayStation 4. Sure, it got a few reviews here and there, but it’s not an Atelier subseries that people talk about with the same reverence or fondness they have for the Arland and Dusk series in particular. (Meanwhile in Japan, Atelier Sophie launched as one of the most successful games in the series’ history!)
That means you get the opportunity to experience it relatively blind without bringing any preconceptions or assumptions to the table — which is always the most fun way to experience a new series for the first time!
The DX releases are the definitive versions
One thing longstanding Atelier fans will likely tell you is that each game often ends up getting several releases over the years. This has been the case since the very beginning of the series; first game Atelier Marie had versions for PlayStation, Saturn, Windows PC, Dreamcast and PlayStation 2, for example, with all of them being slightly different.
In more recent years, later rereleases of Atelier games have been “complete” versions of their original incarnations, bundling all the DLC that was available for the first release onto a single cart or disc and sometimes even including some extra features or gameplay refinements. That means no ferreting around in the depths of online stores to dig up DLC packs — it’s just all there for you right from the outset. Nice.
The DX versions have new stuff
Not only do the DX versions of the Mysterious trilogy have all the DLC from the original PlayStation 4 releases, they also have some brand new stuff, too.
Perhaps most notably in the case of the Mysterious DX trilogy, Atelier Lydie & Suelle DX includes some new story content that features Nelke, star of the Atelier spinoff game Nelke and the Legendary Alchemists: Ateliers of the New World.
This is noteworthy, because previously Nelke was not really considered a “proper” Atelier game, mostly unfolding as a series fanservice title that featured a variety of past characters; with Nelke and her world putting in an appearance in a mainline Atelier game, things fit together a bit more nicely.
Aside from new story content, the DX versions of the Mysterious trilogy also incorporate some modern conveniences such as a fast-forward mode for combat and a photo mode for those who like to take pictures of their favourite characters. Shame on you if the first photo you take is of Plachta’s bum.
A series of constant reinvention
With pretty much annual releases for 22 installments, one might worry that the Atelier series would be running out of ideas by this point. But with each new game, Gust proves that it is more than happy to refine and reinvent with every new installment; no one Atelier game is exactly the same as the one that came before it.
In the case of the Mysterious series, we see Atelier Sophie completely reinvent the series’ alchemy mechanics after the Dusk series had already experimented with them in several different ways; we see Atelier Firis experimenting with a more “open world” feel than prior titles in the series as a whole; and we see Lydie & Suelle incorporating puzzle-style minigames into the mix, along with its varied structure of exploring other worlds within paintings.
The gorgeous art
The Atelier series has always had exemplary, highly distinctive art design, with each subseries typically working with a single main artist who helps define that set of games’ iconic look and feel. The most well-known of these to date have been Mel Kishida, who gave the Arland series its pastel-coloured storybook feel, and Hidari, who gave the Dusk series a rather weathered, faded, nostalgic and melancholy feel.
The Mysterious series marks the first time that the series made use of multiple main artists. In this case, the character designs are provided by Yuugen and NOCO. Supposedly the reason for using two artists was to enhance the “mysterious” feel of the game by allowing two artistic directions to intertwine and interact with one another. Speaking with Famitsu (as translated by Siliconera), the two artists admitted that they were uneasy about this at first, but quickly decided to get along and complement one another.
It still wasn’t an easy process, mind; NOCO admits that she wanted to ensure the Mysterious games had a look that was distinct from the Arland games in particular. “It was a long road until Sophie’s design was decided on,” she explained, “and I believe it took about fifteen different drafts. There was even a time when she looked like a magical girl!”
The awesome music
Gust’s sound team is one of the best in the business, with a variety of incredibly talented composers working on the Atelier series over the years. The Mysterious series brings together several regular contributors to the series, including Daisuke Achiwa, Hayato Asano and Kazuki Yanagawa, with some newcomers such as Tatsuya Yano.
The Atelier Mysterious trilogy blends familiar-sounding elements that have always been part of the series — particularly some rather “folky” instrumentation and melodies — with more modern elements to create a distinctive, memorable sound, with Atelier Sophie apparently being a particular fan favourite.
There’s a physical release
Yes, it’s only for Switch; yes, it may look a bit pricy — in that regard, bear in mind you’re getting three full games on one cart — and yes, you do need to import it from Asia, but you can indeed get the whole Mysterious trilogy DX version in physical form to proudly display on your shelf and/or save space on your SD card.
Our friends at Play-Asia have a standard edition featuring just the games, a Premium Box that includes a poster, soundtrack and art cards, and a Special Collection box that has everything from the Premium Box plus a tapestry, four clear folders and a crystal paperweight. All of these versions feature the game in English.
What are your favourite Atelier games? Let us know in the comments or via the usual social channels!
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