Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk

So, when i first bought this i was surprised by the teen rating... other then a few still images and a couple of scenes with innuendo these games tend to be EXTREMELY tame... things are said or hinted at but never shown.

Then I saw Keith and the fact that he smokes...
"no that can't be it" I told myself... i mean i know North america has strict rules about what characters can smoke while japan really doesn't care.... but that can't be it.
But it was the only thing i saw in my playthrough that made sense... so i looked up their reasoning.
"there are scenes were people have/talk about having..... ALCHOHOL!!"
me: . . .
"there one instance where they in a dark cave and the one girl accidently touches..... THE OTHER GIRL!"
me: for the love of...
"and and and, the worst of all.... one scene has characters nakid in a hot spring and you can see..... THEIR CLEAVAGE!"
me: are you kidding me?

now i didn't get the ayesha's birthday event in the bar so i don't know how horrifying to the senses it actually is but i did get the other ones... and again..... one still image where everything is covered and the other where characters are just saying what they are 'doing' nothing is shown.

I get it.... the rules need to be strict in order to protect those kiddies (cause we all know there are no kids who play games that have a ESRB rating that excludes them)... i'm not saying the game needs an E rating.... i'm just saying this particular rating came off as incredibly prudish... granted i should be happy it doens't have an M rating.... cause i think one of the older ones actually managed to get one.

Anyways.... that aside yay another Atelier game, my third beaten this year.... cause i had some catching up to do.

You are Ayesha, an apothecary in a tiny little workshop. Your live is simple but your sister did vanish 1 year ago and part of you still thinks she could be alive somewhere. While visiting her grave you come across a man inpecting the glowing flowers around it and he states that she may in fact be alive.... but she probably wont last more then 3 years in her condition. He tells you that you need to find the truth yourself and that she will need alchemy.

Unlike the other two atelier games i played the time limit is 3 years... not 5..... yet it feels quite a bit longer then Totori or Meruru. The game was advertised as no time limit but that only seems to apply to quests and such cause year 3 3/30 is your last day to do anything.

I qualified for two endings... the normal one (obviously) and Kieth's ending.... i liked Kieth's ending a lot and i'll just assume it's canon..... even though i know it's not cause theres a stupidly difficult to get cannon ending.

and i do mean stupidly difficult to get.
do all requests, side quest, npc quests, party character endings, win every contest and defeat this monster that on his turn has 4 super powerful moves... and i was at level cap and i still never killed it.... got really close once but ran out of time to try again. and considering i missed most of the requierments i wasn't getting true end anyways.... not that i knew it at the time.

Some changes from the Arland series is that items of the same type can stack.... which is the best thing ever.... traveling doesn't take as many days and all dungons areas are represented on the world map so you can go to any point of any dungeon at any time. Finally failing synthesis doesn't seem to be possible... but it wont let you even try things out of your level range... also it's a bit trickier to get A rank things and i don't think i ever saw anything S rank.

Overall, compared to the other Atelier games i have played, the story feels a bit more organic then the others.... your goal is to rescue your sister.... thats it... you get hints throughout the plot but there are no arbitrary "you must have this much X by Y" so it really does feel like you are in control of everything.  Also triggering events feels a lot easier and i don't know why... it just feels less random and if you know you have an event lined up but it's not being triggered cause another event is playing then just leave the area and come back and you shoukld get the event you were expecting.

One thing i Do not like is weapons and armour.... you can buy some of them but the best ones are drops...
Who thought that was a good idea.
not only are they random drops from very specific types of monsters but they also have all their stats hidden until you use a item on them.... so it  sure was fun when i got a better weapon for Juris that had a hidden ability of taking away all this health....... WHY IS THAT A THING?

The art is bright and colourful but i had a hard time finding a setting on my tv that didn't look too bright or too muddy.
There are a lot of issues with the framerate.... like i don't tend to notice that kind of stuff but in areas with not a lot happening the game just seems to chug and stutter. Enemies take a long time to oad on the screen and i have walk into encounters more times then i would like to admit.
Other then that the game is very pretty.... it has the havok engine for some reason i can't even begin to understand.... her hair physics maybe? or perhaps the dress?

Exploring without being careful is still a good way to end up killed by cute fluffy animals.... an example is there is an area of the game that the stage before end game..... but you unlock it (or at least i did) really early in the story.... so i wasted a lot of time trying to go back and see if i was strong enough just to have it no progress cause i hadn't gotten then end game trigger... there was no reason for the path to open up to me when it did... there should be some kind of level thing where if you will get killed in a hit it just wont appear for you... or give you a warning or something.

Still as the start *double checks that is is Game 1 in the Dusk series* of the Dusk series of Atelier games it was really good, the story works and never feels forced or unfair, the music is really pretty.... well other then the goofy one but it's not supposed to be pretty. Some of the enemies are boring cause there are only like.... 10-15 base types and the rest are recolours. The time limit is short bu fair and even though Ayesha isn't the brightest character out there she is still likeable and all the side characters are unique and a lot of fun.

That being said, wait for Ayesha Plus because.... well it'll be on vita (these games are better on a handheld) and it'll have a bunch of additional stuff added on.... it just came out in japan so it may be a while but yeah... I bet it'll be worth the wait.... had i known i would have waited.

Still i am REALLY looking forward to Esch & Logy which i'll start playing shortly after posting this.... but first a recap.

The good:
Characters, Music, story, stackable items, synth multiple items in one day, short but fair time limit.

The not so good:
Weapon and armour drops are random with hidden stats, areas that you may not be ready for are easy to go to early on, some event triggers are tricky to figure out... especially true with the part of the game where you have accomplished your goal but not hit the 3 year limit.

The bad:
Some graphical hiccups/stutters and slow down as well as occasionally the music skips, repeats and then tries to catch up... it's not game breaking but it can take you out of the moment.

Hopefully having two characters in Ecsha & Logy will make for an interesting new experience... i'm just looking forward to some of the wonderfully designed male characters... cause I am just as shallow as everyone else... never let anyone (or me) tell you otherwise.

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