Look, whether you’re thrilled or terrified about the state of the games industry these days, at least there’s plenty of variety. Everyone’s got their favorite genre and they’re all largely well-represented. JRPG fans in particular are spoiled for choice; we’ve got Square Enix churning out the hits like they always have, while the PS Vita has managed to cling to life on the power of localized JRPGs and visual novels alone. It’s impressive. Today we’ve got another brave Vita holdout in the form of Atelier Shallie Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea, an updated release of the original Atelier Shallie on PlayStation 3.
Shallie Plus doesn’t change much from the original game. You still choose from either Shallie – Shallistera the princess or Shallotte the, uh, between-jobs girl who’d really like to be a witch – and adventure in search of a way to save the world of Dusk. It’s still worth playing through the game twice to experience both sides, since even though both girls will cross paths, they also each experience their own events as well. It’s still got a fascinating and absorbing alchemy system of the sort we’ve come to expect from the Atelier series. You don’t just collect ingredients to make a potion, oh no; you’ve got to think about the quality of the ingredients, the proper mixture to get the best results and so on. This game’s crafting is pretty involved and much of the rest of the content ties back to it, since you’ll need to explore the wilderness and battle monsters (in a traditional turn-based style) to get what you need.
There’s some changes as well, of course. The game’s portable now, for better or for worse; the poor overworked PS Vita struggles to maintain a decent framerate most of the time, so I’m not sure if I’d call this an improvement, but it’s certainly a change. There are a couple of new playable characters, namely Logy and Ayesha from previous Dusk games, and the concluding segments of the game have been cleaned up a little to make this feel more like the wrap-up of a trilogy. Perhaps most importantly, it doesn’t have that game-freezing Growth System bug that made me rate the original game a Nay. Someone must have playtested this one! Hooray for progress!
The bottom line is that you’re finally able to play all three games of the Dusk trilogy on your PS Vita at this point, so if you haven’t started then the time might be now. The framerate issues present in each game might be a little irritating (I found them to be less common in Ayesha Plus, for whatever reason) but I can see that being a worthwhile price to pay for portability and additional content. As for why you’d want to play these, well, it’s probably because they shake things up.
See, the Atelier games tend to take a less, uh, “zazzy” approach to the RPG formula. They focus on daily life and hard work, starring unassuming leading ladies (and men, at times) who want to improve themselves and the world through effort and diligence. Atelier Shallie Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea has a bit of a Harvest Moon or Stardew Valley tone to it. That’s a far cry from Final Fantasy’s Prince Noctis engaging in teleporting god-slaying insanity, but I’d argue that provides a nice change from the norm. The top-notch item crafting on display here means it’s worth a look for anyone who’s willing to get their hands dirty with something other than monster gore.