Admittedly, I have never really invested myself in the Atelier series, with the only titles I’ve played being Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland and Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book. With an influx of entries in the series over the years, it’s been a little difficult to keep up with it. They’re all well-spoken of within the RPG community though, so I’ve always wanted to take the time to try and play through more of them.
What better time is there than now then with the release of Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream? Having recently released on PC and consoles, I decided to dive in and see if the game offered the sort of adventure that could ignite a new investment in the Atelier series for me. And you know what? I had a REALLY good time playing it.
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream puts players in the role of the titular alchemist, who finds herself transported to a strange new world after an encounter with a magical tree. It turns out that this world is known as Erde Wiege and it is meant to be a haven where its occupants don’t age and are able to work to achieve their dreams. Sounds pretty good, right? Well, it would be if Sophie’s best friend Plachta wasn’t lost in the process of heading there, leaving Sophie on a bit of a rescue mission.
Naturally, there are a lot more twists and turns that occur along the way, with plenty of story threads to explore that relate directly to Sophie’s life, her relationship with her friends and family, and her heritage as an alchemist. It almost feels like the stakes are a little lower than in your typical RPG, though not to the game’s detriment; whilst you might not have some big evil villain that’s threatening the safety of mankind, it’s easy to find yourself invested in Sophie and her well-being thanks to how likable of a character she is. Add to that the rest of the charming cast and the well-written script and it’s hard not to find yourself engrossed in the delightful tale. Just expect a handful of scenes here and there that drag out a little longer than they need to.
Oh, and it’s worth pointing out that there’s a recap of the events of the previous game too, so you don’t have to worry too much if you never played it or if your memory is a little foggy.
“It takes place on a simple tile-based grid so it never feels too complex, but there’s definitely a reward there for players who take the time to think their alchemy through beforehand and ensure they use the best ingredients and place them efficiently.”
If the title didn’t give it away, you’ll spend a lot of your time in Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream doing alchemy, with plenty of resources to gather across the world that can be used to create all-new concoctions. It’s an intuitive system too, with plenty of room for experimentation as you toy around with different ingredients, whilst their placement within the alchemy grid can affect just how effective your concoction will be. It takes place on a simple tile-based grid so it never feels too complex, but there’s definitely a reward there for players who take the time to think their alchemy through beforehand and ensure they use the best ingredients and place them efficiently.
I’ve probably made it sound a little more overwhelming and complex than it is, but it really is straightforward and feels especially rewarding when you manage to concoct something special. It isn’t limited to just potions or anything either, with players creating their own gear or weaponry through alchemy. It makes finding new ingredients all the more worthwhile, and believe me, there were plenty of times throughout the game where I found myself ignoring story progress just to grind out some valuable ingredients I’d been missing. It’s just so addictive…
It helps that defeating enemies is satisfying, with the game’s turn-based battling a simple but enjoyable affair. It’s all straightforward turn-based battling for the most part and will feel familiar to anyone who has played a turn-based RPG before, though the emphasis on building up points to perform team attacks as well as the weather affecting battles does add some semblance of strategy to it. That simplicity lends itself well to the game though, with less time spent worrying about exploiting weaknesses of enemy types or applying buffs and more time spent stylishly beating them up and gathering sought after ingredients. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some challenge to be had and certain boss encounters will require players to really embrace the RPG tropes of elemental strengths and weaknesses or buffing up their characters, but it’s a lot tamer than other RPGs that I’ve played.
“Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream offered one of those worlds that just felt really nice be a part of, whilst the creative character designs ensured that each character had a look that matched their quirky personality.”
Outside of combat, you’ll also be able to gather resources out in the world – sometimes by simply grabbing items and other times by completing small mini-games. They’re little things really, but they go a long way in making what is often a simple ‘one button’ press in other games a lot more intuitive for players. It’s a good idea that makes resource gathering in Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dreamall the more enjoyable.
It all lends itself well to the satisfying gameplay loop of gathering resources, beating up baddies, crafting new items, and completing quests to progress, with Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream offering a more relaxing RPG experience that never pushes the player too much in one direction. You can tackle progression at your own pace and do what you like along the way, whether that’s simply performing alchemy to get some cool items, building up your relationships with your allies, or venturing further through Erde Wiege. Of course, more options open up through natural progression through the game, but there’s plenty of stuff to keep players busy at any given time. Again, there’s nothing too complex on offer and it can feel a little repetitive in places, but that’s normally just a sign to work on progressing through the story instead.
I can’t end this review without giving a shoutout to the visuals, with some delightfully vibrant locales to explore on your adventure that are packed to the brim with charming detail. Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream offered one of those worlds that just felt really nice be a part of, whilst the creative character designs ensured that each character had a look that matched their quirky personality. Whilst there are some elements of the visuals that lack the pizzazz seen elsewhere, Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream’s vivid world constantly kept me impressed.
Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream Review
Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream’s blend of neat alchemy and fun exploration make for an entertaining adventure that really hooked me in. Add to that a charming story, a vibrant and imaginative world, and some decent combat, and it has all the ingredients it needs to whip up one heck of an enjoyable RPG experience.
Sure, if it can be guilty of dragging some cutscenes out a little longer than they need to be and some elements of the game could get a little bit repetitive, but they’re small flaws in what is otherwise an enthralling alchemy escapade.
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Nintendo Switch, PC