Gust’s Atelier series has long been the flagship property for the company. The first Atelier premiered in 1997 and they have built an astounding 15 titles in the main series with this newest game. Atelier Escha & Logy is the first title in the main series to go with a storyline built around both a male and female protagonist. To signal the occasion, they have decided to change the battle system up to focus more on a classic RPG system for our boy Logy while Escha represents the typical Atelier experience most have come to love.
Since this is the first time Atelier has had a male protagonist take the lead since Mana Khemia, I chose to play as the silver haired city boy Logix. I do just love the names Gust comes up with for these people.
So Atelier Escha & Logy’s attempts to do things differently haven’t done much to change the heart of the game. I haven’t played an Atelier since Rorona’s adventure in Arland, but there is a casual familiarity still here in the series. It still works off a turn based battle system similar to that of Final Fantasy X where everybody’s attack goes in the order of the player’s speed. The major difference that sets this game apart however lies in the assist system the game has set up.
Each battle takes place with a set of three front row attackers and three assistants backing them up. As you fight, the characters build meter and can then burn that meter to call upon an assistant to attack or defend. It really is a surprisingly good system as you can call assistants to switch it up with your front row at will. This is important since a good majority of the game is running out and collecting items from monster-filled territories. Battle systems like this offer plenty of variety to engage you in between quests.
Each Atelier game is full of crafting and that is exactly what we have here with Escha & Logy. The game is built around a three month rating system in which you have one important task and numerous smaller ones to accomplish during each period. You’ll get a bingo card to fill out and upon blacking out all the squares, you’ll impress your boss and thus get to mess about until the next three month period. It’s mostly filled with tasks such as: gather ingredients, kill monsters and perform special crafting options. Nothing out of the ordinary, but there might be an occasional quest each go-around that will leave you stumped.
This system works extremely well because your characters act as government assistants whose sole purpose is to take care of the local population using their alchemy. This means they need to interact and take the requests of people around town to advance their missions. Gust tried to make a more free form interaction with Atelier Ayesha by having the system take a backside to Ayesha’s task of reuniting with her sister Nio. Since this is the sequel, I’m glad they decided to forgo that option for a more focused approach. Nio appears as a shop owner, but there isn’t much tying it back to the original game, thankfully. The only issue is that it works to focus the mechanics over the story and Atelier Escha & Logy isn’t exactly filled with narrative drive. After a while I was beginning to wonder where the human conflict was as there was no real villains other than the monsters you had to run into. When I fought a giant Bahamut as a side boss, I quickly realized that there wasn’t going to be a puppet master working behind the scenes to ruin the day of our duo.
The role of the two figures instead is actually just one of cohabitation. Logy is fresh from the city and is quite unaccustomed to the dealings of everyday rural life. Escha is a hard worker but doesn’t have many of the techniques that one would learn from the big cities. The two have to work together to make up for the others inexperience and the involvement of the two really works to create some interesting interactions together around town.
The entire point of Atelier Escha & Logy is to service the locals. This doesn’t ever lead to some grand villain’s appearance or some amazing boss fights. Instead the focus is left to filling out that bingo card and interacting with the people in town. It works because Gust uses the time spent with these people to craft some unique characterization among the townspeople. What was crafted is a game that utilizes its mechanics and presents it as a perfect pick up and play JRPG.
No need for complex narrative walkthroughs like Final Fantasy XIII. Atelier Escha & Logy is perfect while playing a quick 90 day set at a time.
What Atelier Escha & Logy does well makes for a more fun experience than many JRPGs I’ve had to play through on consoles in a while. The focus on a male protagonist should alleviate some of the concerns people have with the light-hearted cutesy vibe that has alienated many in the past. His playthrough is no nonsense and works to strengthen the goals of the game. As a sequel Atelier Escha & Logy works to bring back some of the characters from Atelier Escha, but isn’t held down by working inside the first game’s plot.
This is a beautiful game with some amazing character art, music and level designs that showcase how Gust has grown the series through each iteration. While some JRPGs are struggling to find their voice, the Atelier series has found theirs and it is one that works well for fans of the franchise. This newest title has the opportunity to unite classic JRPG fans with those that play for the cutesy characters. Atelier is a franchise that has been working hard for years to establish itself as a JRPG mainstay and this might be the title that stands out and shows the world what it can really do.
[+Great Music] [+Interesting Characters] [+Fun Battle System] [+Focused Quest System] [+Pretty]