While it may not have the name recognition of some other games in the RPG genre, the Atelier series from GUST has maintained a steady release schedule on PlayStation platforms since its first game back in 1997 on the original PlayStation. We have seen side games on other platforms, but Sony has managed to keep all of the mainline games on their own consoles over the years. That has not changed as our latest release is the next entry in the mainline series, exclusively for the PlayStation 3, known as Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky.


Unlike past games, when you first start up the game you must pick between two characters named Logix “Logy” Fiscario and Escha Malier. Whichever of the two characters you pick will be the one you control for the rest of the game, so it is a pretty big decision. However, the one you do not pick will still be with you throughout the game, just as your companion. The character interactions are specific to each one, but overall there is not much difference in the two, other than these interactions and the inability to move your chosen character from the front line in formations prior to battle.

Escha is your younger option as a resident of Corseit, she knows her away around and handles most of the synthesizing you will do in the Atelier. Logy is the new guy in town that joins the team with Escha, both as alchemists. Coming from an area known as Central City, Logy is the more veteran alchemist, but is from a much more advanced city than the small town of Corseit. Both characters have distinct personalities that set themselves apart, though still falling under some typical genre stereotypes.


As you play through the game, you will gain new party members as the story brings them into play. These include Escha’s brother Awin, as well as Threia, Reyfer, Lucille, and even the returning character Linca. They each have their own unique attack style, such as the very different use of earrings to attack with Threia. These are further brought out by the special supports, which will be discussed later.

Taking perhaps only a minor element of a lot of other games in the genre, the Atelier series has always had a major focus on alchemy and that is certainly no different here. However, it is definitely not a carbon copy of past games. While past entries in the franchise has had a major focus on alchemy, with combat only being more of a side note, this one splits the experience almost down the middle between the two. These two are intermixed through the use of assignments from your superior Marion, who also returns from a prior entry in the series.


For every reporting period, you will have one main assignment to complete, such as to investigate why the source of an entire village’s water supply has dried up. These will be more story oriented while the rest of your assignments are like sidequests, such as having to gather a certain number of gathering a certain number of items per period or synthesizing a certain number of items. Many of these assignments are completed by moving across the world map, which is setup almost like a board game with you moving all around spaces to get to new locations. In each of these locations you will be doing two things, gathering items and fighting enemies.


This leads to one of my biggest complaints of Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky, the repetitiveness found from doing a lot of this. While there are some advancements and variations, most of the time you will be going to and from each of these locations and then defeating the four or so sets of enemies and collecting the four or five items in each and move to the next. It would have served better if there was some sort of difference between them, but it’s a lot of the same. However, while repetitive, it can still be quite fun thanks to a fantastically complex fighting system.


At the start of the game, the combat is very simplistic, but it gradually gets more and more complex the further you get. With only three party members and only basic attacks, you will mostly just be attacking back and forth with enemies while getting the hang of the biggest part of the gameplay, known as the support system. With this, you can choose to string together support attacks on top of regular attacks or defend your party members from enemy attacks. This requires a lot of strategy, which is even further enhanced with the special support attacks later that are unique to each character. The really neat thing about the support system is you can choose how you want to use it, as you can pick whether you want to stick to all offensive, all defensive, or a balance of the two.


Another key to battle, which brings more strategy into the picture as well, is the formation setup. Prior to battle, you can setup your formations in almost anyway you please. Your chosen protagonist, either Logy or Escha, will always remain in the front row, unless changed in actual battle, but the rest can be switched around how you please. The three characters in the front will be the ones attacking the most, so it might be a good idea to put your strongest there to start off, but you have the option to choose what you want to do.

As previously mentioned, alchemy is a major part of this game and just like the combat, it grows as you get further in the game. At the start, the alchemy is pretty simplistic with the basic adding of ingredients to make other items, with little experimentation possible. However, as you branch out on the world map, you will find an abundance of ingredients that can be used in a variety of different recipes. Some of these items you will make are just used for other alchemy recipes, while some of them can be used in battle, like bombs. At first, you will only have the cauldron for basic synthesis, but later you gain access to the ability to imbue weapons and dismantle items down to their raw materials. Alchemy gets very addictive fast and is going to keep you coming back again and again.


Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky’s graphical style just feels right for this type of game. The characters all have unique character designs and look great, even with a somewhat lack of actual animation of them, as most interactions are simple conversations. The backgrounds look good as well, but are a little lackluster most of the time with none of them really standing out beyond the city of Corseit. The music also fit the setting of the game quite well, with some tracks actually reminding me of those from both the Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts series.


For those coming to this game expecting an epic story like that seen in the Final Fantasy series, you are definitely in the wrong place. Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky provides a more quaint story, that features more on the characters interactions with one another than anything else. There is no main antagonist who will be at your throats the entire game, but you will come across conflicts in your new job in the town.

If you have never played any prior games in the Atelier series, do not let that turn you away from trying out this latest entry. While many elements are similar and even a couple characters make reappearances, this title is mostly a standalone experience. The main characters, as well as most others, are completely new to the series. As a result, those new to the series would know just as much about what is going on as those who have played games from the series in the past. The only disadvantage would really be not knowing the gameplay system and perhaps taking awhile to learn it.


Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky is a very fun little game that I sadly have a feeling will be missed by many in the sea of other major releases. While the assignment system may get very repetitive at times, we still get a fantastic alchemy and combat system to complement it that will keep you coming back. The support system in battle is very unique and brings a lot of strategy to the battles, rather than mindless attacking back and forth. This one has plenty of content, so you will certainly be busy for quite awhile with this game.As a mostly standalone title, Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky is an excellent jumping on point for those who may be interesting in the Atelier series. For anyone that enjoys a good low-key RPG, this game may be perfect for you.

[Editor’s Note:Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky was reviewed on the PlayStation 3. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]