For about a year, Tecmo Koei has owned the rights to the Atelier series developed by Gust. Atelier Ayesha was the first under new management and it was a healthy amount of familiarity and freshness when it came to the 13th entry to the series. While the game still had problems that plagued early entries, it offered enough polish to consider itself a complete game. Atelier Escha (Es-Kah) & Logy (Log-E): Alchemists of the Dusk Sky is not a sequel to Aeysha, but some familiar characters make appearances like Wilbell. Which is something the series is known for. Koei has decided to revamp the series with their Dynasty Warriors graphics engine as well as a reworked alchemy system. As well as offering two sides to the main story, this game is certainly heading the franchise in the right direction.
Escha and Logy are two alchemists cut from very different cloths. Escha is a rather inexperienced alchemist that was taught in the traditional art form that is alchemy. Logy is a young sprightly alchemist from the big city who is used to fancy gadgets and advanced alchemical technology. Both characters are very friendly with each other despite being from such different backgrounds. They have moved to a small town named Colseit to become alchemists in the R&D department of the government. Together, Escha and Logy must fulfill tasks as alchemists and adventurers to prevent the town of Colseit from going bankrupt.
The story is very similar to previous Atelier games, mainly Rorona and Totori. The last few Atelier games have been more character driven and personal stories. There are two sides to this game, Escha's and Logy's. The differences are mainly with inner monologues of the two main characters. They are surprisingly different given the somewhat generic archetypes they are initially portrayed as. The story is still not too bad, it certainly be better. A problem with the story lies with how the game is played. There is a lot of dialogue between characters. After every assignment, you will have roughly 2 hours of text dialogue between party members and citizens. This was a problem I had with Atelier Meruru. There is a way to have character development and show backstory other than having hours of text conversations.
The game has visually improved significantly. A common theme with the PS3 Atelier series was the highly stylized overworld character designs and the simple dumbed down in battle design. Now everything is rendered the same so the characters no longer look chibi and low resolution. This is all thanks to the graphics engine used in Dynasty Warriors 7/8. The voice acting can be a hit or miss. I found that the voices of the supporting characters were way better than the voices of Escha and Logy. Characters like Threia and Reyfer stand out while Escha and Logy sort of just blend in. Speaking of voices, the audio quality sounds much better this time around, especially with the musical score.
The biggest changes, other than the visuals, are in the alchemy system. This is of course what drives the game so it needs to be perfect. This time around, it really is the best alchemy system the franchise has seen to date. There are a lot of mechanics to learn about this system though. Reading the tutorials on how to make items better is crucial into making weapons and items that will support your adventuring. Items have four properties, Fire, Water, Wind, Earth. These properties will be used to activate various abilities that will make your items gain better effects. The kinds of properties you obtain rely on the items you are synthesizing with. The way the system is organized is very easy to read. The new elemental property system adds to much to the alchemy is what makes it shine. The same goes for ingredient information. It is all stored in the journal area of your main menu in game.
The second half of Atelier Escha & Logy's gameplay is the combat. Now this is something I always found the series (on the PS3) struggled with. We finally have a cohesive and polished combat system that feels just as complete as the alchemy. The combat is very traditional turn based RPG and I am so glad to see it on console. While I can appreciate something different like where the Final Fantasy series has been going, it is nice to see something stick to the roots of where the game came from. Your characters have HP and MP respectively and each skill uses MP. At a certain level you unlock special abilities for all the characters and this fills a gauge so that once you max it, the ability does thousands of damage. Something that was also refined was the support system. You can have six characters in your party, their formation is dictated by a front and back row. When you attack and kill enemies the support gauge fills. For every point, an ally can defend or attack. When you build the gauge high enough special attacks will be executed on their support attack turn. These support attacks are enhanced when you purchase the research from your manager.
I will be blunt here, the game still has a lot of kinks to work out. Missions can be incredibly vague and the game is still timed. While the lax nature of the game is still there, it still puts too much pressure on the player. The animations are still pretty wooden but that is more of a pet peeve personal view rather than an actual hindrance. The game has too much dialogue (as a previously mentioned) so the game can be progressing smoothly until you hit the wall of test and it slows down to a crawl. However, Atelier Escha & Logy is a wonderful addition to the franchise and it is by far the best game of the series to date. There were a lot of fixes and reworks that benefit this game to make it a game worth playing. I give Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky a 9/10. You can pick it up now on PSN or retail.