The search for the Philosopher’s Stone continues! Yes, in the latest alchemy-focused adventure, you’ll control Harry Pott…well, wait, no, that’s not the case at all. No, today we’re talking about the newest entry in the Atelier series: Atelier Escha & Logy Plus: Alchemists of The Dusk Sky, a PS Vita re-release of the second game in the Dusk trilogy of craft-’em-up. Last year saw the release of Atelier Ayesha Plus, the first game in the trilogy, and now it’s time to see how the second game stacks up.
As in the original, you control Escha, the girl, or Logy, the guy, per your preference, while the other remains a central NPC. Escha’s a more typical optimistic Atelier heroine, while Logy’s down-to-earth style is closer to heroes like Atelier Iris’ Klein or Iris 3’s Edge. You’re the new alchemist in town! Specifically, you’re the new alchemist in the town of Corseit, and your job is to do the same kind of stuff you do in pretty much all of the other Atelier games: go outside, load up on materials, do chemistry experiments with them, deliver the results of your mad science, repeat. Naturally, you’re doing all of this on a deadline as well, so you’ll need to keep an eye on the clock.
The plot is a little less, uh…adventurous than previous titles, at least early on. The early chapters are a surprisingly accurate depiction of what it’s like to work for a government organization. If you’ve never sat through a budget meeting, well, Escha and Logy is here to give you that experience. Thrill as people discuss how poorly funded your department is! Gasp as characters talk about managerial minutiae! We’d sell you the whole seat, but thanks to fiscal concerns we can only afford to give you the edge! Hoo boy.
I can’t even say that I’m docking the game for this because it’s kind of a bizarre experience, a little like the hilariously structured prison area in Xenogears. You even have to deal with a meddling home office! At least your employer is kind enough to keep your gear restocked between bureaucracy-approved adventures. Later on the plot does become a little more engrossing; this is slightly darker than earlier Atelier titles, in line with the rest of the Dusk trilogy, but don’t expect anything too jarring.
Eventually you’ll get out into the field, where you’ll pummel the local wildlife and gather their bits to use for science. It’s fine, you’re the good guys, don’t worry about it. Our protagonists can do the usual combat item stuff we’ve come to expect from alchemists in this series, while most other characters use a more traditional combat style based around MP management. You’ve got frontline and backline characters; the former mixes it up with the foe directly while the latter provides support as needed via a recharging gauge, and you’ll need to use both to keep the baddies off balance. There’s more combat in this one than in Ayesha, so expect enough battle to whet your bloodthirst and also fill your alchemy cauldron with adorable monster parts.
Crafting, of course, is the real focus of the series and this game’s no exception. The exact mechanics by which you create items are a little too complex to discuss here, lest this review explode like all those cute monsters you’ll be murdering, but suffice to say there’s a lot going on. You have to manage the quality of the ingredients you use, the elements they add to an item and the special traits they impart on the finished product. If you’ve played one of these games before, then Escha and Logy’s version won’t come as a big surprise, but newbies are likely to drown in the depth of Aterlier’s crafting.
The Plus version adds in a new playable character, some cosmetic stuff, a few new dialogue scenes and the usual slightly damaged framerate and visuals. It’s still an absolutely gorgeous game, of course, and if I were concerned about a perfectly stable framerate I’d be gaming on a PC (yeah, I said it). As usual, everything is rendered in a beautiful cel-shaded style that helps Escha and Logy stand out. Combat animations are very nice as well, which is a good thing since, as mentioned, this is a more combat-heavy game than usual for this series.
If you’ve already played Escha and Logy on PS3, well, you probably don’t need to return to Atelier Escha & Logy Plus: Alchemists of The Dusk Sky, even in mobile form on the PS Vita. There isn’t much added to this “Plus” version to make it worth a replay. Chances are you didn’t, however, and may have just gotten into the series with last year’s Atelier Ayesha Plus. In that case, this one is absolutely worth a look.