Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Publisher (Developer): Tecmo Koei (Gust)
ESRB Rating: “Teen” for Fantasy Violence, Suggestive Themes and Use of Alcohol and Tobacco
Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk is part of the Atelier series of alchemy RPGs. The main goal in this game and the others is to gather and synthesize items that you find in various shops and dungeons. These items are then used to help people, improve your equipment and fulfill other conditions. Despite the multiple installments, each entry is a stand alone game with it’s own story. The games are usually about a young girl who has just discovered alchemy and she now needs to use her abilities to help someone or help herself. With Atelier Ayesha another story begins.
Only alchemy save Ayesha’s sister
Ayesha is a young woman who works as an apothecary, making potions for people and selling them to make a living. While she is out one day visiting her sister’s Nio’s grave, she encounters a strange man who claims to be an alchemist. He tells her that her sister is not really dead, but is actually in a different “state.” Ayesha can save her though, by studying the art of alchemy and learning abut the strange glowing plants that surround the grave. Oh, and Ayesha only has two years to save Nio before she is lost forever. Naturally, Ayesha takes up the task, with her friends assisting her.
Atelier Ayesha is a different sort of RPG. The main focus is alchemy and creating items. Players can also fight monsters and level up, but that isn’t the only way to grow. Experience is also earned through completing tasks and collecting memories. Each time Ayesha meets a new character or starts an event in the game, she earns a “memory” that can be logged in her memory book once she has enough memory points. She earns a stat boost first from receiving the memory, and another after it is logged. Memory points themselves are gained from from completing tasks and talking to people.
Acquiring money in Atelier Ayesha is accomplished in multiple ways as well. It can be earned from fighting enemies, but the best way to get cash is from helping people who need synthesized items. The better the product, the more memory points, money and other items are given as a reward. Some people want their items by a certain deadline, while others don’t mind waiting. If Ayesha fails to meet a deadline, she will lose some of the reward. People always need items, and sometimes the same people need something else, so it is best to visit towns and people often to see if there is a “Help!” bubble above their heads.
Synthesizing in Atelier Ayesha is an experimental procedure. There are certain items needed to create each item, but there are often several different types of material you can use. For instance, if Ayesha needs to make something with water as an ingredient, she can use clean, muddy, fire, or other types of water. Each item will add attributes to the item that might make them better, worse or maybe an entirely different product. Time is also important, as it takes about one day per item to create. Eventually, Ayesha is able to make multiple items quicker, but it is important not to waste time synthesizing unneeded items. Ayesha can also create items that improve the stats of your weapons and armor or attach element attributes to them which is very useful.
Alchemists have the most fun!
Atelier Ayesha is very non-linear game and lets players roam around the world map to visit different dungeons and different towns as often as they like, practically whenever they like. Ayesha meets lots of party members this way, and often finds rare items. She also scores a free room for resting and synthesizing in every town visited which is handy. However, I felt it was too open-ended at times, as I sometimes didn’t know where Ayesha was supposed to go next. Plus, I had to be careful about roaming around carelessly, because it takes days to travel and she only had a limited amount of time to save Nio.
Speaking of time, everything in Atelier Ayesha uses up days. Synthesizing, collecting items, sleeping to heal and traveling take up time, for example. I recommended using healing items instead of making Ayesha sleep to save time. Collecting items in dungeons is just one way to get resources in Atelier Ayesha. Ayesha’s created products can also be registered and sold in stores. If there is a frequently used item, register it and buy more when needed instead of wasting time making it. Another way to save time is to recruit lots of people to help Ayesha collect items. Up to three people can be sent out at once.
Speaking of these extra characters, there are plenty of fun people to meet in Atelier Ayesha. Some of these folks can even be recruited to help Ayesha fight her battles or gather resources. Some characters are good at collecting and some are good for fighting, which means it is up to the player to decide who to recruit and use, except for the few mandatory characters. One downside is that Ayesha can only recruit three people at a time. If someone else would be a better fit, a player have to talk to him or her in town. This could mean having to travel for days to the town.
Atelier Ayesha has multiple endings as well, which change depending on players actions and whether or not Ayesha befriended her companions. If someone wasted too much time and accomplished nothing, then Nio will be lost forever. This is rather unlikely, but can happen. There are also special character endings that are earned after beating the final boss and playing for a while after. These endings are all conditional, meaning people must accomplish certain tasks with characters. I felt this added a lot of replay value to the game.
Atelier Ayesha is all about expending effort to make people happy.
Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk is a very open-ended that lets players do what they want in the hopes of succeeding. There are plenty of people to recruit, items to synthesize, battles to fight and memories to make. It can be hard to advance the story at times and there are some fierce time restraints, however neither takes away from the fun of the game. Players who like non-linear, unconventional RPGs will definitely want to pick up Atelier Ayesha Just be sure to spend your days carefully and purposefully before setting out on this long adventure.