Journey back to Arland in style.
I remember playing Atelier Rorona when it first came out in the States sometime in 2010.
It was the first Atelier for the new generation of consoles, and while it had some rather glaring flaws, I quite enjoyed my time with it regardless.
Now, it’s been re-released with many improvements in both the graphics and game play department. While it’s not quite a brand new experience, it’s well worth checking out for veterans and newcomers alike for its new content and upgrades.
Platforms: PS3, PSV
Demo Availability: N/A
Voice Acting Selection: Both JPN and ENG voices.
Length: 30-50 hours
The most apparent upgrade is the graphical improvements to make Atelier Rorona look more in line with the art designs of Atelier Totori/Meruru.
Originally, it had a very chibi look to its characters, but the 3D models have been remade to look a lot more mature and there have been quite a lot of details added in the characters as well as the environments.
There are also many new game play elements thrown in to help the overall flow of the title. One new element that really fleshes out the content is the stamp system from Atelier Escha & Logy which rewards side objectives with exclusive bonuses.
For those unaware of what Atelier games are about, it’s a gentle balance between item crafting and combat in a laid back world. There’s no giant menacing evil threatening to destroy the world, nor is the main character an amnesiac with a destiny to yadda, yadda, whatever.
It’s just about a fledgling alchemist trying to run her shop in town well enough so she doesn’t get fired. Given the JRPG genre is steeped in world ending melodrama with alarming frequency, I find the change of pace to be refreshing.
Still, that doesn’t mean this is a walk in the park, as every action takes a certain amount of time and there are deadlines to meet lest Rorona face an eviction from the local government.
Balancing my time between crafting, exploring, gathering material for synthesis and battling it out with big monsters was a delightful challenge that was as addictive as it was fun.
While the story and characters remain more or less identical to the original, they’re still an enjoyable bunch, and it was nice to see what I liked about them in the first place once more.
There is also a whole year’s worth of time added after the end of the game, where the two protagonists from the Arland sequels Totori and Meruru appear as playable characters.
It’s a bit of fluff, but the extra dungeons provide for some of the most challenging encounters in Atelier series history.
While the new graphical fidelity is nice, there are some noticeable slow-downs in certain areas, and even in combat when even the damage numbers can’t keep up with the action and show up well after the attack landed.
Also, given almost every facet of the game has been upgraded to benefit from the developments in the recent Atelier titles, the alchemy and combat system felt a bit bare bones in comparison.
Not to say that it’s bad, but it’s more or less simply serviceable and lacks depth.
When it’s all said and done, Atelier Rorona Plus is a massive improvement over the original and a fond farewell to the Arland universe.
Whether you’ve already experienced the world of Rorona or are looking to check it out for the first time, you won’t be disappointed.
Fun Tidbit – Barrel!
Review copy of game provided by publisher.