Last year, I reviewed Atelier Rorona. It was the first game of the long-running series that I had played. I found it to be a refreshing take on the standard turn based RPG. Now, a year later, almost to the date, Atelier Totori releases. Does alchemy return to reinvent the series? Let’s find out.
As the title suggests, you play as Totori, a young girl living with her father and sister in a small fishing town outside of Arland. Taking place 5 years after the events of Atelier Rorona, Totori has taken up alchemy through her teacher Rorona in order to become an adventurer like her long lost mother. That way, she can travel the land in search for her. In order for her to do that, she will have to travel to Arland and obtain an adventurer’s license. Totori and her childhood friend, Gino, make the trek to Arland and, from there, take on quests from the guild in order to earn points for her license. If she doesn’t have her license ranked high enough by the end of three years, she will lose the license.
Much like in Atelier Rorona, you will take on quests, travel to different areas searching for materials, and battle monsters along the way. The quests range from gathering a certain amount of materials to killing a certain number of monsters. In all honesty, they are fetch quests for the most part.
The battles take place in a turn-based style. The alchemists in your party are the only characters that can use items. A bar will fill for the other two party members, and when filled to a certain point, they can perform special moves such as defending a party member from being attacked or following up another party member’s attack with an attack of their own. The characters also use MP for special abilities they learn through leveling up. It is a very basic battle system that never gets too complicated.
The biggest part of the game is, of course, the alchemy aspect. Totori has the ability to create items and materials using alchemy. Sometimes, things she is tasked to create will require materials that can’t be gathered out in the field, but rather require other materials that can only be obtained through alchemy. When creating items, it will require usage of Totori’s MP as well as take a number of days to create. By creating new things and more of them, she will eventually level up her alchemy ability. The higher the level, the more reliable items she makes and the more difficult items she can make. Also, depending on the rank of the materials (rated as E, D, C, B, A, and S), the items she creates can have additional stats added on to it. Those can be a greater selling price, +10 to attack, or even a higher effect bonus. The alchemy is the main game play mechanic in Totori, and you will spend more time here than even in battles.
Totori will eventually be able to have the blacksmith in town make her new armor and weapons by creating materials and giving it to the blacksmith. Most of this equipment can only be obtained through him, so utilizing his services will prove very useful.
Totori will also gain a helper in her business that will serve as a gatherer or synthesizer for you. They become available later on in the game, but are very helpful for getting you materials without you having to leave and get them yourself. It can save you precious days using this mechanic.
When you accept quests, they all have a deadline on them. If you don’t meet the deadline, you fail the quest. Almost everything takes up time in the game. When you travel to a certain area, it takes up time. When you create items using alchemy, it takes time. Even gathering items and fighting battles takes up time. Time management is of the utmost importance, especially when you only have 3 years to rank up your adventurer license.
Luckily, doing pretty much anything in the game will add points to your license. Travelling to new areas, killing a number of monsters, creating new items, and completing quests all give you points to your license. As long as you’re exploring new areas and completing quests, you will be getting points. I feel you’re less rushed in Totori than you were in Rorona. They give you a good amount of leeway to get things done, and you’re not always penalized for it, and if you’re ever wondering what you need to do for points, there’s a full menu with categories letting you know what you can do and how many points you will gain the activities.
The story plays out in cut scenes that take place when you travel to certain areas or when you finish doing something. They always happen after a certain amount of days go by. The voice acting is decent for the most part, but you will have to be able to tolerate cutesy characters and typical anime slice of life interactions. There are some cut scenes that are only a few lines long and have absolutely no bearing on the story at all. Gust does that a lot in their games, but if you can see past the annoying dialog at times, it’s a decent story overall.
The battles never really get too difficult, as long as you keep fighting battles instead of running away from them in the field. You can easily get sucked into the alchemy and gathering quests and end up not training for a long time. Then, you’ll find yourself quickly slaughtered in a new area because you haven’t leveled up.
The biggest problem with the game is that the quests themselves are just so standard. You will keep on getting the same gathering and kill quests over and over. Sure, they mix it up a bit, but after 10 hours of doing quests, it becomes monotonous. I know Rorona felt the same way, but because I had never played the series before, I didn’t know what to expect. For a game that uses almost the same exact same formula as a game that was released a year ago, it just gets old. If you’re really into these types of games, though, you’ll be happy to know that Gust didn’t try to fix something that wasn’t broken.
All in all, if you liked Atelier Rorona and are looking for a similar experience with a few upgrades, you will really enjoy this game, especially if you enjoyed the characters in Rorona. Most of them make a large appearance in Totori, and some even join your party later on. If you’re new to the series and are looking for a different take on turn-based RPGs, you will more than likely like Totori. Keep in mind, if fetch quests are not your thing, or if you can’t stand bubbly characters, you may want to steer clear of this game.
Review copy provided by publisher.