Game Title: Atelier Rorona DX – The Alchemist of Arland
Company: Gust, Koei Tecmo
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Availability: Digital Download
Battery Life: 3 – 5 hours
Cloud Save Support: Yes
Download: 8.4 GB

The gaming world has a way of surprising me, all the time. The Atelier series is one of those surprises. I started that series with Atelier Totori and Meruru and really disliked the series but tried again with the Dusk games and have loved every Atelier game since then. It was a surprise as a series I thought I would hate, but really started to love after trying another part of the series.

The series has surprised me just in time for the website’s 5th anniversary. Just as I was getting ready to go into ARK: Survival Evolved and get the word out to my userbase, Atelier popped up on the eShop and created a big “I need it!” situation.

So, to celebrate today, the 5-year anniversary of the website, here is my review of Atelier Rorona DX for the Nintendo Switch!

Story

atelier 2 - story

Atelier Rorona is centered around an alchemy workshop in the kingdom of Arland. When the King threatens to close the workshop down, a young girl named Rorona is pushed into the task of working with the kingdom to prove that the workstation can help out and not just be a waste of space. Over the next 3 years, she is given assignments to complete and overcome the business leaders that are trying to shut her down.

There’s something unique about Rorona, even among Atelier games. The series has always focused more on light-hearted slice-of-life stories rather than the big save-the-world RPG stories, but Rorona seems much more in that setting. There aren’t any bosses you have to fight for story progression and it’s all about Rorona’s fight against Corporate Arland rather than her rising up to fight off a world-ending threat.

Gameplay

atelier 3 - gameplay

Like the other games, Atelier Rorona DX is a turn-based RPG with a heavy emphasis on time management and collection materials to synthesize into new and better items.

First of all, Rorona DX is basically a new version of Atelier Rorona Plus. Like on PS3 and PS Vita, this has the base game, all DLC bundled in, and the “Additional Story” expansion involving Totori and Meruru that happens after the main game has ended.

Progression in Rorona is pretty straight-forward. You have a town as your “Hub” where you take on quests, synthesize items, buy from shops, and have character events, and then you’ve got a World Map with all of the different dungeons you can visit when you need to find materials and ingredients for your alchemy recipes.

atelier 4 - assignments

First, let’s talk Time Management. Every “Chapter” has you doing an Assignment with 3 months to complete. If any assignment is not completed, you get a Game Over for failing to prove the worth of your Workshop. Of course, almost everything you do takes up time. Traveling to dungeon, synthesizing, and resting to recover MP to do more synthesis all takes up days of the term.

Of course, the time management doesn’t matter a great deal with how easy the Assignment requirements are. Outside of a select 2 or 3 assignments, I already had recipes and stock available to turn in all of my Main Assignment items within the first week of the term, leaving me with 2+ months to just do whatever I wanted. This does make it seem really unbalanced, but the game also has a good 15-20 optional assignments you can fulfill to unlock special rewards, like stat boosts and new equipment. These assignments easily use up the rest of the terms, balancing things out a little bit.

Although it isn’t nearly as emphasized in this game, you also have turn-based combat when you’re out in dungeons and need to get materials for synthesis. There are quite a few party members you can recruit (for a fee), each with very specific weapon styles and skills to help Rorona with fighting monsters for materials. You can also combo skills together when Rorona uses battle items, which makes optional bosses useful for getting rare materials.

atelier 5 - battle

All of this comes together pretty well, for the most part, especially in terms of choice. You can play the game without doing many battles and just do assignments based on harvesting items, but can also spend a lot of time in synthesizing weapons and armor to take down the special bosses in the post-game. This is nice, since most more modern Atelier games make you fight bosses and final bosses for beating the game.

In terms of content and length, Rorona isn’t quite as long as the other games. The main game should take you around 20 hours to finish and the Additional Story scenario will likely add around 3-5 more hours. 25 isn’t nearly as long as the Mystery games, but it’s still not a bad trade-off for $39.99.

Controls

Controlling the game is pretty simple. Not really any touch controls to deal with, so you just use the buttons.

You move around with the Left Analog Stick and the D-Pad / Arrow Buttons are mostly used for menu navigation and “taunts” in dungeons. The ZL and ZR buttons don’t do much in the game, but the L and R triggers are used for quick access to menus, like Saving and Assignment Details.

The rest is up to the face buttons. A is used for confirming options and B is used for jumping and platforming around. X pulls up the menu and Y lets you strike enemies on the map for pre-emptive strikes.

All around, it’s simple and sticks to the original PlayStation control scheme.

Presentation

atelier 6 - presy

Graphically, this game looks really nice. The environments and effects are flawless and smoothed out. The character models do have occasional jagged edges in handheld mode, but it looks great and clear, and all that blurring from Atelier Lydie is nowhere to be found.

Apart from looking good, it also plays well. There are no frame drops in docked mode while certain areas have small drops in handheld mode (but nothing like the big drops in Lydie). The game does kind of lag and freeze when accessing the save menu, but actual gameplay plays nice and smooth from start to finish.

Battery Life

With all this performance optimizing, I’m happy to say Battery Life also benefits from this new remaster. Here are my Battery Times, from 100% to 0%

Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 13 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 45 minutes

Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 4 hours, 24 minutes
Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 4 hours, 50 minutes

It’s great to see this improvement over Lydie’s times.

In conclusion, Atelier Rorona is a cute, adorable adventure that is quite possibly the one entry of the series that truly fits into the “Slice of Life” aspect. Granted, the super-easy assignment goals does make the game feel a little unbalanced and handheld mode has occasional frame drops. Outside of this is a cute RPG that any series fan will laugh at for dozens of hours.

Final Score: 8.5/10