Collections of PlayStation 3 and Vita era games for the PS4 have been bolstering backlogs for quite some time. The latest is Koei Tecmo’s Atelier Dusk Trilogy DX collection, available digitally right now for JRPG lovers on the PlayStation Store. Featuring the fourteenth through sixteenth games in the long-running Atelier series, we are whisked away to a brand new land and set to solving mysteries with the newly rediscovered practice of alchemy.
Tales of Land, Air, and Sea
The story begins with a young woman searching for her missing sister. Ayesha works hard as an apothecary, mixing popular medicines all while holding out hope that her younger sibling Nio might one day reappear. On the third anniversary of her disappearance, Ayesha witnesses an apparition of Nio inside ruins near to their home. Within moments of the event, she encounters a stranger who encourages her to learn the truth about the strange flowers that grow here. If she does so, she may just find the truth of what happened to Nio.
When we meet Escha and Logy, they are bright new recruits to the Research and Development team in Central. Tasked with making R&D more relevant, this duo will take to the sky in an attempt to be the first to explore the mysterious ruins floating in the nearby sky. While doing so, they must manage to complete important tasks every four months for their department as well as smaller jobs to help them grow their workshop.
The final game of the trilogy is where we get down to the nitty-gritty. Two young alchemists from very different walks of life are about to find themselves entwined. Shallistera and Shallotte live in a land where water sources are drying up, leaving communities to uproot their lives to survive. Atelier Shallie is the culmination of a ten-year story that began with Ayesha, bringing it all to a proper end.
Across these three games, we have the pleasure of encountering some wonderful characters who will cross over from one game to another, including ones that were DLC only in the original PlayStation 3 releases. These recurring faces bring with them much needed moments of humor and plot development that enhance the overall world-building. And they are all included in the Atelier Dusk Trilogy DX collection.
Home is Where the Atelier is
Each Atelier title follows a similar format: explore new locales to gather materials, practice your alchemy, and expand your knowledge by purchasing new books. Sure, you’ll have to deal with monsters on the map, but that just means cool new rare items to add to the spice rack. While you’re doing your thing, you can accept delivery requests to make some extra cash and maybe get other unique items. Alchemy books aren’t cheap, so you’ll want to do as many of them as you can.
Time is not always on your side, though. When you play as Ayesha you are locked into a three-year time period in which you must solve Nio’s disappearance. If you spend too much time attempting to synthesize every item available, it will eat away the days (and months) allotted. Since Escha and Logy work for the government in their game they are beholden to completing certain tasks within a four-month window before moving to the next four-month task. The pacing here was much better here for me. I didn’t feel so much pressure with crafting and exploring. By the time we get to the third game, all time limits have been removed. At first, I loved this; I could spend lots of time running requests for the local union and earning stacks of cash. But then I got too caught up in running them and not focusing on doing the Life Tasks that would move the story along.
The Art of Alchemy
When you aren’t leading your squad across the varying maps of Dusk, much of your extra time will be spent around your alchemists’ cauldrons. Synthesizing new items is extremely important, whether they be for field use or fulfilling neighborly requests. Each of the three titles in the Atelier Dusk trilogy shares the same core Synthesis rules as other Atelier fans but have their own twists on using unique item properties during fusion.
My favorite of the three synthesizing processes is in Atelier Ayesha. Crafting multiples of the same item can easily be done from the start of the process and allocating attributes was fairly straightforward. If I could have every Atelier game use the same formula as Ayesha I would be ecstatic. Atelier Shallie‘s variations on Synthesis were by far my least favorite. Every time I needed to create something new, I cringed at the thought. The only saving grace with Shallie is that there is no calendar I had to pay attention to, meaning I could spend time getting better at cauldron work.
Having previously reviewed Atelier Lulua when it came out last year, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to play with more alchemists. One of the downsides to Lulua was that there were so many references to a trilogy previous to it that I felt a little out of the loop. Thankfully, I didn’t feel punished for it. That said, playing in the Dusk world from start to finish, self-contained with no other influences is a much better entry point for me.
Atelier Dusk Trilogy DX review code provided by publisher. Version 1.00 reviewed on a standard PlayStation 4 console. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy.