Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings is the latest turn-based Japanese roleplaying game from developer Gust and publisher Koei Tecmo.
As in previous Atelier entries, players will help guide burgeoning alchemists on quests to better themselves and their world at large, by gathering ingredients, fighting monsters, and befriending allies and foes alike. With no overall time limit and a plethora of slice-of-life story segments in a beautiful pastel world, Atelier Lydie & Suelle proves to be one of the superior entries in the long-running series, and is worth the time of any JRPG or crafting enthusiast!
You can buy the game on the official Nintendo Eshop store page for your regional pricing.
Young twins Lydie and Suelle are eager to fulfill their mom's dying wish that they, together with their painter father, build the best alchemist shop in the city. On their quest to the top, the practical and calm Lydie and the boisterous gunslinger Suelle must gain ranks in the city's alchemy program, and discover the secrets of the mysterious paintings, which harbor unique otherworldly realms hidden inside their canvases.
The story and characters aren't particularly deep, but they are cute and likable, and even the baddies seem not-so-bad. The world of Atelier's games continues to be pleasant, and the kind of place you'll yearn to occupy between work and other responsibilities.
Atelier games are famous for their beautiful watercolor-esque anime character designs, crafting systems, and light-hearted stories. Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings continues that tradition, shrugging off some of the previous installment's time-limited story arcs, and increasing the party-max to 6 characters.
The game doesn't boast any particularly new mechanics, but those it adopts are adopted well. The combat is traditional turn-based JRPG fare, with players choosing a character's actions as their turn pops up on the order bar located at the right side of the battle screen. Some attacks and actions are "quick," meaning that there's less of a wait between when the selected character can act again, and some inflict "knockback," which push back an enemy's turn. Characters themselves also have their own natural speeds, so some will usually act more than others (Suelle, for instance, tends to be faster than Lydie). Suelle, who uses dual alchemical pistols, is the power-hitter of the core duo, with Lydie and her staff providing more of a support role. Each character can also use items you either craft, find, or buy, such as bombs and healing pads, and some items can only be used by certain characters.
This is all fairly traditional, but it's competent and fun. It's paced quickly enough that players won't get exhausted waiting for complicated attack animations to finish, but said attacks could have had more visual oomph put into them.
The movement system in the city is done either by selecting your desired destination via a hub menu, or walking there through various sections (with a brief loading time in between each). Using the hub menu takes more in-game time, and is also required to reach combat/harvesting locations beyond the city. While this installment of Atelier happily does away with the core story's time limit, side quests garnered from the town notice board do have time limits, and will expire if you're not careful. Luckily, more will crop up, as will "Reputation" challenges that the twins must complete in order to gain notoriety, and thus gain access to new challenges that will increase their Atelier rank (and thus progress the story).
Crafting is fun as with most games of the Atelier series. Recipes are gained through quests and by collecting the right materials or books, and there are numerous types of ingredients that can fulfill each requirement for a recipe. In addition, once your have enough ingredients of the required types to make something, there's the synthesis process to consider. Each recipe has a set colored grid, and each ingredient has one or more Tetris-like block aspects to it. Each of these block aspects also has a color, and matching it onto the corresponding area of the recipes' colored grid can build up the produced material's stats. Choosing the right ingredients with the right block types and colors is thus important in producing the most valuable and effective material. To add further complexity, each ingredient also has a quality value, and many have potential effects, such as providing an increase in HP or a Stamina boost when the crafted item is used.
Use of the crafting systems are necessary to complete story and side quests, and also useful in combat both offensively and defensively. If you are into crafting, then you'll get a lot of enjoyment out of this area of the game, and is a core selling point. You could complete the game with limited crafting should you so desire, but then you probably wouldn't be the kind of person picking up an Atelier game in the first place.
The only minor gripe about the gameplay is the initial tutorials, which tell you that a system exists, but don't always explain how to utilize it fully. This is especially apparent in the use of the grid system operated during synthesis. Luckily, trial and error are required to exploit the game's most fun aspects, so players will get the gist of it all on their own without too much trouble.
graphics & sound
The visuals are pleasing and the design is beautiful, but Atelier Lydie & Suelle is not a graphically advanced title, and it's Playstation Vita origins are apparent. With that said, it's pretty enough to be immersive, and it runs like a dream on Nintendo's Switch. The load times are brief and the directing prevents the limited background details from ever becoming too apparent. Handheld mode is fantastic, and brought on fond memories of the heyday of the Vita.
The music is mostly upbeat fantasy fare, and would play well in a mix of Square's less serious tracks in a JRPG playlist. The voice acting is all presented in its original Japanese, and each voice fits the character designs without any upsetting discord.
All in all, there's plenty to love in Gust's newest roleplaying entry. Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings ranks among the Atelier series' most enjoyable titles, and the plot and character development keep players moving forward, never allowing a moment for boredom to set in. The crafting, movement, and combat systems offer little new to the genre, but everything they do is done right; you'd be hard-pressed not to enjoy guiding these giddy sisters along on their path to alchemy expertise.
|+ Relaxing Gameplay||– Lackluster Visuals Beyond the Characters|
|+ Sweet Story of Two Sisters||– Tutorials Are a Little Lacking|
|+ Beautiful Character Designs|
|+ Tons of Loot to Gather and Craft|