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Atelier Escha & Logy Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky (Vita) artwork

Atelier Escha & Logy Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky (Vita) review

"Eschatology: A belief concerning death, the end of the world, or the ultimate destiny of humankind."

The town of Colseit rests in the midst of the decaying Dusk Sea. It's one of only a few cities remaining after the catastrophic events known as "The Dusk." Now it serves as one of humanity's last refuges from the harsh environment that blankets the planet. Despite the negativity that has become so commonplace, however, Colseit's government maintains a healthy interest in exploration and development. Officials hope that the wastelands can produce the crops and other necessities that humans need in order to someday thrive once again.

Atelier Escha & Logy Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky explores this dreary setting, allowing players to spend three in-game years in the work boots of either Escha Malier or Logix "Logy" Fiscario. The protagonists' shared tale doesn't depict some grandiose effort to defeat an arch-demon that threatens the world, or to venture off in search of a legendary treasure. Instead, the alchemists spend their time performing duties as part of a government development team headed up by Marion Quinn, a series regular who previously appeared in Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk.

Atelier Escha & Logy Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky (Vita) image

Individual assignments play out over the course of roughly a quarter-year. Players typically have to do one of three things: craft a specific item, explore a new region of the map, or defeat a nuisance beast that plagues the vicinity. I never found any of those main assignments to be particularly challenging, but proper time management is essential if you plan to complete the twenty-four extra tasks provided within each chapter.

Although some players may resent the time limit that is associated with required assignments, I personally found the allotted time to be sufficiently generous that I was able to easily perform any essential gathering, crafting, and alchemy tasks. Helpfully, any chores that you don't manage to complete when they're first assigned can be revisited during the post-game segment, which offers a whole year with which to explore a particular series of ruins while working for the good of Colseit.

Extra assignments fall into one of two categories: an inner ring that consists of 8 additional jobs and is displayed immediately, as well as an additional 16 jobs that are hidden until one of two conditions are met. You can either complete the secondary jobs in advance without meaning to, or you can make all of them appear by clearing the current assignment board. Completing every sub-assignment is definitely helpful if you want to gain extra money or rank points. Otherwise, you only need to worry about the main task at hand (and possibly the other inner 8 if you want to claim extra recipe books and stat upgrades).

Atelier Escha & Logy Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky (Vita) image

You're allowed to choose between the two available alchemists at the story's onset, but most of the game plays out in an identical manner regardless of that initial choice. There are a few sub-events to help flesh out ancillary relationships, and different alchemy recipes appear that suit the active hero's fighting style. Both heroes are well versed in the use of bombs and healing items, but only Logy can use special Blitz items in his gauntlets, whereas Escha is the only one capable of attacking with storybooks. Either approach is possible exclusively with the use of character-specific alchemy.

As usual in an Atelier game, recognizing the finer points of the process and being familiar with certain recipe combinations is not only considered a normal part of gameplay, but may even be required in some areas. Boss fights are peppered throughout the campaign, and they provide opportunities to make sure you're making the best use of your crafting resources along the way. There's a lot of freedom to experiment as you try to find the most effective ways to craft useful and powerful items. For instance, a basic ice bomb may deal only 100 or 200 damage under normal circumstances, but you can imbue it with enhanced properties that add additional elemental damage. It's not uncommon to see any weak initial numbers skyrocket into the thousands. Couple that with the Double Draw ability (which allows a given alchemist to attack with two items in the same turn) and you could have just what you need to finish off a boss before it can obliterate your party with a powerful area attack.

Atelier Escha & Logy Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky (Vita) image

The "Plus" in the game's title, unfortunately, feels like a bit of a misnomer this time around. Any improvements the Vita update brings to the original PlayStation 3 release are minor compared to those offered in previous Plus titles, and can essentially be counted on a single hand. Peppered throughout dialogue, you'll find choices that are conveniently marked with a heart or sad face icon, which offers additional context. Nio Altugle has also joined the roster of playable party members, bringing with her a unique assortment of healing and buffing skills that prove useful during drawn out boss fights. DLC that was previously available for separate purchase, such as the Palace of Paupers, is now part of the package. And finally, an assortment of new costumes is also provided, for those who want to showcase proper fashion sense as they explore the wastelands.

Atelier Escha & Logy Plus carries on the grand tradition established by its predecessors, and I found it to be especially enjoyable in small bursts. You can always play across longer sessions if you like, of course, but the campaign's slow pacing tends to remove some of the simple pleasure that shorter sessions so effortlessly provide. In any event, those who are looking for a turn-based RPG that offers charming characters and a satisfying alchemy system should enjoy this comfortable next installment. It's another solid job by the developers at Gust, and an experience that fans definitely won't want to miss.


Gregarious's avatar
Freelance review by Kai Powell (March 05, 2016)

As an aspiring FGC contributor, Kai has earned enough tournament accolades to earn the title 'Eternally Second'. When not pouring his heart out over covering the games industry and running a corporate games store, he also spends his mornings at a ramen-ya

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kazriko posted March 05, 2016:

I really need to get caught up on that series. Like the Assassin's Creed and Tales series, I have more than 5 atelier games in my backlog.

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