Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey is the second installment of the Mysterious Journey series by KOEI TECMO America. The story follows an ambitious protagonist and her older sister as they travel to Reisenburg, where Firis hopes to become a licensed atelier.
The art style is reminiscent of every magical girl anime you can think of, which any RPG fan can enjoy. The gameplay is pretty standard for a fantasy RPG and focuses heavily on open world exploration and turn-based combat.
Despite this, there are a few components that make this game unique. The goals of the game are simple enough, to reach Reisenburg with a high enough alchemy level and three letters of recommendation from other licensed ateliers you meet on the way. However, this is immediately complicated by a deadline of 361 days. This seems like a long time, but doesn’t when you play. To add to the difficulty, you must balance this time between travel and leveling up alchemy. My first issue was that although the alchemy mechanic is fun and incorporates puzzles and exploration, it also takes up too much game time. Although you can craft in seconds, it winds the game clock down hours and even days. In addition, there are multiple side and chain quests that can be time drains. These are essential though as they allow you to unlock new recipes and gain favor of licensed alchemists.
The other unique component is a weather and day/night mechanic that impacts what items can be collected, monsters that are active, as well as which NPCs are out. These greatly affect side quests. My issue with this is that day and night change quickly, as in the time it takes you to mine a rock it has gone from morning to night. This is frustrating especially when on a time limit.
As if that weren’t enough, there is also an exhaustion mechanic. The player is given a meter that starts at 100 and dwindles down with every battle and every other step. The game forces you to find your way to a campsite and rest, which is challenging and frustrating. It seems that after a side quest or two battles, it was time for me to take a moment to rest. This mechanic feels unnecessary, especially when there are multiple time drains. This also makes grinding difficult, which is needed to survive the next town’s monsters as you are quite squishy.
Regardless, the puzzles, exploration, and side quests are fun. There are unique environments, monsters, and characters that keep the game interesting, despite the difficulties. All things considered, I believe that any fantasy RPG lover would love this game, especially if they are up for a challenge.
Watch the Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Boss Battle Gameplay Video:
Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey released in North America today,March 7, 2017 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita and Windows PC via Steam. For more information please visit the official website at koeitecmoamerica.com/firis.