Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book – Review
Follow Genre: RPG
Developer: Gust
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Platform: PS4
Tested on: PS4

Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book – Review

Site Score
8.0
Good: Fun story, anime-style graphics, stays true to franchise
Bad: Sometimes not clear what to do
User Score
7.0
(3 votes)
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Rating: 7.0/10 (3 votes cast)

The Atelier franchise has been going for several years now and recently, Koei Tecmo has released the latest instalment: Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book. For this game synthesizing items is still the most important element of alchemy, but it offers a lot more than stirring in your cauldron. Get ready for a fun adventure to help someone (or something) special, while becoming the greatest alchemist.

Atelier Sophie logo

Story

Alchemy is the key element in this franchise and this title isn’t any different. We get the chance to meet Sophie, a novice alchemist who wants to improve her skills to honor her grandmother. She was the only relative Sophie had left and was very important to the town of Kirchen Bell. Our young alchemist tries to learn some recipes on her own, but this ends more into failure than success. When Sophie helps her best friend Monika with a request, she writes down the ingredients and instructions in an old book she found in her atelier. Returning home, it seems that Sophie has a new housemate.

There has been a transformation seeing her book can now speak and float. Plachta is very special as she is designated to help alchemists with their work. There is one small problem though: she has lost all of her memories. Writing into her triggered the transformation and it seems that Sophie needs to learn new items to make because she needs to write these recipes into Plachta in order to get her memory back. Together they try to obtain their goals: improve Sophie’s alchemy skills and help Plachta. You’ll meet some colorful characters on your way to ingredients and you might even find adventures in unexpected areas.

Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book

Gust always tries to combine alchemy with a fun concept and new characters. The story might take off quite slowly but you’ll notice fast that you always want more. The gathering and synthesize part of the game seems the most important aspect with the narrative as follow-up. It is possible to focus on visiting people in town without touching your cauldron in days. The down-part is that you won’t really advance in the narrative.

Graphics

This Atelier title is the first one to be published for the PS4 and although the game doesn’t use the full possibility of the console, it stays true to overall style of this franchise. Everything is coated in the usual anime-style whereas the overview of the world map hasn’t changed and the gathering areas feel similar, although the graphics have gotten a nice boost. Taking up arms against enemies for the first time might leave you enjoying the scenery first. The details of your foes are remarkable at least, although this might not cross your mind when you’re fighting against a cute Puni. When an attack is executed, the facial expression or movements of both enemies as allies change drastically, giving it that more dimension and firepower.

The key characters or important NPC’s are beautifully designed with lots of details. Every time you witness a cutscene, you probably notice something new. With their quite colorful garb, they stand out against the other inhabitants of Kirchen Bell. This isn’t a bad consequence though, as your friends stand out more. One small remark though is that the environment is quite empty and feels static & pasted.

Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book

Sound

Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book mostly has uplifting, fun tunes that will make you feel happy and enthusiastic. The music is sometimes more in the background and doesn’t really stand out, but you might notice that you start to hum a song from the game after a while. One way or another, it has its effect on your mood. Sound effect wise there are a lot of little sounds that give the game that bit extra. Charging an attack or even swirling in your cauldron will be guided by an effect, which makes everything a lot more dynamic.

One other important aspect is the voice acting. Both English and Japanese voices are possible and they both seem to fit the setting perfectly. Almost every cutscene is spiced with some nice voices. If the mood of a conversation changes, you can certainly hear this in the tone. In the end, this is the icing on the cake.

Gameplay

Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book is an RPG that takes you on a new adventure to gain intellect and fame by getting a better alchemist. To do so, she needs to gather materials and exploit new recipes in order to get Plachta’s memories back. Fighting is certainly a necessity but it’s not the biggest aspect of the game. You can run around town for as long as you like, as you can trigger cutscenes that give you more insight of some characters.

Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book

The foremost part you’ll be in your atelier, performing synthesises. Before you can make new things, you first need to think of possible ideas. These can be triggered by talking to certain people, investigating specific items or buying particular items. The synthesize process has certainly gotten more challenging, as you can fill a grid to obtain bonuses. Before you get to that point, you need to select the ingredients you wish to use. These have an category value and certain abilities & quality, which has its effect on the outcome of the product. Also, each item has a specific pattern size which is useful for filling the previously mentioned grid. Filling the gaps with these items will give adjacent fields a color bonus. The more you can stack and collect these, your item will gain better traits thus obtaining a better product.

Synthesize requires items which needs to be gathered in the field. Monsters are roaming free and are out to kill you, so you need to be prepared. You can take friends with you to help eliminate threats and work together by ranking up and getting a chain attack or support. This depends on the stance you’re in, namely offensive or defensive. Depending on the attack of your enemy, it might be a good idea to change this to fend off some incoming damage. You can see what your foe is planning as there is a turn-based system and you can plan beforehand which opponent you’re going to bash. Certain skills will give you another spot in the queue, so it is a good idea to keep this in mind. Fighting and going to other areas take its toll from you and will deplete LP. The less LP you have, the less damage you’ll perform and can be a real turnabout during battles. This can be healed by going back to Kirchen Bell.

Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book

As enemies become stronger, you need to adapt and get better gear as well. Of course, battling foes will give you experience but this won’t be enough to fend off larger and more vicious creatures. After a while, a blacksmith will give you the possibility to order weaponry and armor. Also, you can equip items to help you in battle but these need to be set beforehand. Sophie can equip anything but your companions can only bring certain items.

There are several gathering spots in a certain area and these can contain a diverse amount of goodies. The time of day or the weather conditions when you’re on a gathering spree are important well as it has its effect on the items as or the enemies you can find in an area. This is something worth remembering, as certain requests will ask you to kill a specific type of foe. These requests are found in the café and although there isn’t a real time limit in the game, certain quests do have an end date. Everyone in town seems to be awake at every possible hour of the day and it seems like Sophie has endless stamina. Although there isn’t a real deadline, there are a few resting days that are presented by a growing plant on the left-hand side of the screen. On these days, the plans of the key characters are different, meaning that they’re not at their usual place and might trigger other scenes.

Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist Of The Mysterious Book

Conclusion

Overall, there are a lot of mechanics in the game that make everything quite interesting. If you’re looking for violence, you’ll probably get a cold shower. On the other hand, Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book offers a good story, filled with synthesizes, comradery and determination to get Plachta’s memories back.  Combine this atypical gameplay with anime-lookalike style and great music, and you’ll be forgetting about blood and gore sooner than later.

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Rating: 7.0/10 (3 votes cast)
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Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book - Review, 7.0 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
AnneMieke


Faster than lightning

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