Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky Review
Atelier is one of those game series’ that rarely ever makes its way to Europe, so seeing Atelier Escha & Logy on store shelves may come as a surprise to some. Well, don’t let the shock take you aback for too long because Atelier Escha & Logy is a cute JRPG about collecting, battling and – most importantly – alchemy.
You start the game able to choose your player character of either Escha, a cute girl who is innocent and helpful, or Logix, a dubious young man from Central City who has to adjust to country life and working in a smaller, less-advanced environment. He prefers the name Logy. The pair must work as partners in the small village of Colesit’s Research and Development division, their main task being to reach goals each term and generally helping the villagers.
The game starts off very slowly. It was just over an hour before I finally felt like I had been let off the reigns, and all I had actually done by then was listen to some fairly awkward sounding dialogue exchanges between the two main characters. Thankfully, much of the supporting cast has a stronger voice cast, but in comparison the main two characters seem to be lacking in both personality and emotion, which is unfortunate.
You will spend most of your time either in the Atelier, which is a room dedicated to alchemy and synthesis, or traversing the overworld, battling monsters and collecting items. The areas that play as dungeons to explore can be quite linear, most being a short area with a clearly posted entrance and exit; littering that area will be three to five monsters to encounter and a handful of shiny objects to pick up. Dungeons aren’t complex by any stretch of the imagination, but the battle system is challenging and enjoyable, with a healthy mix of JRPG cuteness.
Turn based battles aren’t known for being blood-pumping, adrenaline-fueled fights, but there’s something poetic and satisfying about them. Escha & Logy’s battle system is what you’d expect from turn-based games, basic melee attacks and optional skills that consume skill points. You also have Adventure Equipment, where you have a limited amount of space in your bag to carry offensive items, such as bombs, and restorative items, such as healing salves. Here’s where you can carefully make each character unique, and balance their equipment accordingly. Support Attacks and Support Guards also come into play. A Support Attack allows another party member to follow up your attack with one of their own, without using up their turn, and with Support Guard you can use characters with higher defense or HP to protect weaker characters. These abilities can only be used as long as the Support Guage is filled, which happens when you fell monsters or perform special attacks. Planning out these moves adds the necessary amount of skill and tactics to make battles a hugely satisfying experience!
Graphics are often fairly plain, improving in some of the later dungeon areas. The town of Colesit itself is fairly bland and colourless, often having ugly textures and basic models for buildings. It’s honestly enough to make you think this might be a HD remake and not a new game. Conversely, main characters have fabulous character designs, often with intricate attention to detail woven throughout their costumes. Seeing these colourful and detailed characters against such an unattractive background can be jarring at times, but ultimately does not impact the game too much. After all, in a JRPG the characters are the central component to the entire game!
One point that stuck with me since I first turned the game on was the audio, because it is fantastic. The second the game started up and the intro video started playing I adored the music, and the music continued to be awesome. There’s some funky flute tunes in the town area, another catchy tune that plays in the Atelier itself and there’s also a huge selection of music from past Atelier games available to be played.
The only real gripe I have with the audio is that English voices can sometimes sound awkward, particularly when the main characters Escha and Logy are involved. Luckily, there’s a Japanese voice option for people who find this unbearable.