Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk
 BLOG ABOUT THIS

Review: Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk

11:00 AM on 03.12.2013 // Vito Gesualdi
  @VitoGesualdi

For the pretty pretty princess in all of us

It’s a well-known fact that the gaming industry is sorely lacking in strong female leads, with the game shelf at the local Best Buy sometimes looking like a page torn from “Who’s Who Among Expressionless White Guys.”

Thing is, developers are definitely taking some steps in the right direction, with the March 5th release of Square Enix’s Tomb Raider showing that women in games can be portrayed as more than a pair of boobs carrying a gun.

Still, it’s worth noting that another female-led game dropped on the exact same day, one which, though perhaps less progressive than the adventures of Miss Lara Croft, is still a fine example of female protagonists done right.

Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk  (PS3)
Developer: Gust
Publisher: Tecmo Koei
Release: March 5, 2013
MSRP: $49.99

Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk is the fourteenth entry in Gust’s long running Atelier series, an RPG franchise which has experienced only limited success in the west. As both the first installment in a new Atelier universe, and the first Western release to be published by Tecmo Koei rather than NIS America, Ayesha looks to be a fresh start for the series.

It features a notably different tone than the previous ‘Arland’ trilogy of PS3 titles (Rorona, Totori and Meruru), which are perhaps as well known for their adorable protagonists as for the too-hot-for-Australia sexual fanservice.

Though the skimpy swimsuits stick around as optional DLC, the game’s storyline looks to attract an audience beyond the Lolita fetish crowd, Ayesha’s storybook fare so innocent it’s actually hard to imagine what earned this one a T for Teen rating.

At the outset of the game we’re introduced to Ayesha, an adorably naive apothecary who spends her days brewing medicine to sell to passing merchants. During a visit to her sister’s gravesite within the nearby ruins, Ayesha encounters the ghostly specter of her missing kin, a passing academic informing her that her sister may well be alive.

Now filled with the resolve to discover the truth behind her sister’s disappearance, she sets out on a search for answers, meeting a variety of new friends and expanding her natural alchemic skills along the way.


 

Overall, the plot is your standard cutesy-anime fare, with spunky underage witches and attractive young swordsmen rounding out the by-the-books cast. It’s honestly good fun, and a refreshing change of pace from the obtuse philosophical narratives other Japanese RPGs offer.

Most importantly though, with the creep factor removed, Atelier Ayesha is a game one almost wants to recommend as a starter RPG for younger women, proving that one can wear a flowery dress while still kicking ass in monster-infested dungeons. 

I must admit that as a red-blooded American male there’s only so much candy-sweet narrative I can stomach before starting to choke, though if I had a twelve-year-old daughter and the kind of reckless parenting style that involves addicting my children to fetch-quests, this would be an automatic purchase.

Along with the new narrative tone comes a few small additions that definitely help improve the Atelier experience. During combat, characters can now expend a slight portion of their action gauge to move about the battlefield, and maneuvering into position for a back attack or to provide cover to a weakened character adds some needed variety to the simplistic turn-based system.

Meanwhile, the alchemy process has also been altered, now allowing players to use a wider variety of ingredients in their recipes instead of being forced to tediously seek out specific items within the game’s dungeons.

As item creation is still the most confusing aspect of the game it’s nice to see an effort to streamline it, though the game still yearns for a dedicated tutorial mode to explain what it means to add the “flame soul” ability to a medical bandage.

 

Despite the sense of newness surrounding Ayesha, the series’ basic formula remains almost entirely intact, for better or for worse. The checklist style of game design tasks players with rushing about the barebones world map in order to complete an ever-growing list of minor tasks: clearing areas of deadly monsters, gathering up new alchemy materials and fulfilling an endless procession of fetch quests.

The one thing which helps to spice up these otherwise unremarkable elements is the alchemy mechanic, every aspect of the game tying into this item creation system in some way. Throughout the game Ayesha fills her inventory with a baffling variety of ingredients, found at gathering points scattered about the world, dropped by fearsome monsters, or simply purchased from the game’s many vendors.

Back at the workshop these ingredients can be jammed together to form new equipment, necessary quest items, and a wide variety of bombs and tools for Ayesha to use in combat.

Notable is that unlike regular RPGs, monsters in Atelier Ayesha don’t carry wallets, and the only reliable way to fill one’s coffers is to deliver requested items to the various NPCs littered about the game’s collection of towns.

This money can then be spent on expensive alchemy books, allowing Ayesha to craft exciting new items, requiring her to seek out materials from a newly discovered dungeon, and so on the cyclical gameplay rolls.  

The real hook is that, though the tasks Ayesha is given are rather easy to complete, the plucky alchemist has just three years to plow through the various quests and save her sister.

Almost every action in the game; gathering items, traveling about the map, performing alchemy, etc; expends a certain amount of time, and I definitely felt a sense of anxiety when my lack of planning for a particularly challenging dungeon forced me to lose a week returning to town for healing potions.

At its heart, Atelier Ayesha is less an RPG than a lesson in resource management, with your most limited resource being this ever-ticking game clock. Players who waste their time gathering needless materials or crafting unnecessary items will find their adventure ending with Ayesha’s sister trapped forever in the ghost realm.

Meanwhile, those who can expertly budget their time will not only solve the mystery of the ruins, but hopefully have some time left over to improve their friendship level with the game’s various characters, earning all of the game’s special endings.

The real tragedy about Atelier Ayesha is that all of the elements involved are so well polished, yet still feel as though they’d serve much better with a true RPG adventure beneath them. Instead we’re left in a sort of repetitive fetch-quest hell, with some enjoyable character skits scattered around to help disguise the tedium.

The minimal exploration elements make the game feel less like an epic quest and more like a prettied up text adventure, with the majority of the map areas just a single flat environment filled with some sparkly gathering points and a random assortment of monsters.

Another area where the game suffers is its inconsistent graphics.Though Atelier’s anime-styled character models are make incredible use of cel-shading, the game’s environments are largely flat-textured bores from out of the PlayStation 2 era.

For me personally however, the biggest letdown was the lack of voice-acting in many of the game’s lesser skits. Previous Atelier titles have had me laughing out loud as some of the jokes, though while Ayesha includes that same generic anime wackiness I enjoy ("the warrior lady is trying to cut steak with her buster sword, ha!"), without the voice cast these bits fell completely flat.

In short, Gust definitely seems to be straddling the line with Atelier Ayesha, showing that they have the talent to construct a plot which doesn’t rely on swimsuit competitions, yet aren’t quite ready to dedicate themselves to the taxing demands of a full RPG adventure.

What we’ve left with then is a game without an audience. Fans of traditional RPGs will be turned off by the minimal exploration elements; fans of anime babes in skimpy costumes are unable to get their fix, while fans of generic cutesy anime nonsense really don’t command the buying power to make Atelier Ayesha anything more than a niche title.

Again, I really enjoy these characters, and Atelier Ayesha is definitely a well-polished experience, but it simply lacks the ambition to be a true hit, or worthy of its $50 price tag. So, if you’re a middle school girl currently confronting your blossoming womanhood, or just a fan of overwhelmingly cute things, maybe grab a copy. Otherwise, I heard Tomb Raider is pretty good.



THE VERDICT

6

Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk - Reviewed by Vito Gesualdi
Amicable - A presentable but unmemorable time. Focusing on the bright spots helps, and I appreciate the effort, but I won't be playing this repeatedly.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Vito Gesualdi, Contributor
 Follow Blog + disclosure VitoGesualdi Tips
Destructoid feature contributor and bearer of a supremely weird last name (pronounced JIZZ-wall-dee). An active standup comedian in Los Angeles, Vito's sardonic brand of humor shines through whet... more   |   staff directory





 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk


View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:



Please contact Crave Online, thanks!


Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth Review (Vita)

Waifu Wars: Loyalty-Tier

The Wii U's fate is not (entirely) Nintendo's fault

Musings on Firewatch (Spoilers)

My Gaming Landscape [February 9th, 2016]

The sexiest Senran Kagura character has been found!!

Room to Share: Why More People Playing Games Is a Good Thing

OVERWATCH SONG - This World Needs Heroes

Cblogs of 2/8/2016 + Face Petting in FE is a TERRIBLE Mechanic

Calendula: Is this the start of the cynical "meta" games?

 Add your impressions

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

Larxinostic avatarLarxinostic
I swear, it makes sense in context..... Kinda. Hmmm. Okay, not so much. [img]http://i.imgur.com/YhIzmYN.png[/img]
Agent9 avatarAgent9
Almost done with my Waifu wars blog. pretty happy with how it turned out.
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Time to scream and shout. It's Nanako cosplaying as her big bro! <3
Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
Bernie Sanders vs. Donald Trump is like Gandalf the White vs. Handsome Jack.
Sir Shenanigans avatarSir Shenanigans
Skellige is so cool! It's like the land of Valhalla Rising.
Torchman avatarTorchman
http://gonintendo.com/stories/251840-fire-emblem-fates-petting-mini-game-is-in-game-but-only-availa I THOUGHT THIS WAS GONE. MAKE UP YOUR DAMN MINDS PEOPLE
Shinta avatarShinta
God damn, Bernie Sanders is just killing it with this speech. Hitting basically every point. He even used the word "oligarchy." Probably the first time I've ever heard that word uttered on CNN. I think a lot of people in power are shitting their pants
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
In my haste to finally factory reset my tablet, I erased a blog I had worked on. Thankfully, it's fresh in my mind. It's another MGS blog, but it goes the opposite way of my last MGS blog. Pray this guy is not your husbando, for he is shit.
Sir Shenanigans avatarSir Shenanigans
Just ate a disgusting amount of sugary wonders in a Fat Tuesday blowout. Chocolate (birthday) cake, Oreos, brownies, cookie dough, and some creme brule thing. Satiation by way of eat-'til-you-puke is what Shenanigans says!
LaTerry avatarLaTerry
Is there any real difference between the PS3 and the PS4 versions of Valkyria Chronicles?
Shinta avatarShinta
KnickKnackMyWack avatarKnickKnackMyWack
Say whaaaaaat?
Gundy avatarGundy
Voting for Broforce made me think of the most American person that could ever exist. President Michael Wilson!
Fuzunga avatarFuzunga
By the way, that IGPX collection is a new release. It's the first time the show is available in a complete package, and the first time it's been available in any format in about 10 years. [url]http://amzn.to/20JSMCd[/url]
gajknight avatargajknight
This is your daily reminder that Taxi Driver is the best movie ever and if you disagree then all I can say is: God, you're square.
Nathan D avatarNathan D
I love when someone at work tries to claim you screwed up on something and it completely backfires on them. I try to help them save face afterwards, but secretly I'm like...
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I still love Tearaway Unfolded despite the shit pacing and hell yeah I'm going for that plat. It'll be my 2nd plat, first since Sly 2 Remastered back in 2012. So it's been a while. gotta beat the game first tho :P
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
Tearaway Unfolded's final level is my least favorite kind. Life is Strange-esque linear path (through a void) of moments from the game. Bleh.
Shinta avatarShinta
Gravity Rush Remastered looks reallllllyyyyyy nice. Video and screenshots didn't quite do it justice. Seeing it in person is much better.
Virtua Kazama avatarVirtua Kazama
We are T-7 days until the release of Street Fighter V! There will be a blog released on the February 15, only one day before the release. This blog is about reflecting on Street Fighter IV.
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -