The Atelier series has been a staple of PlayStation in Japan since the late 1990s, with the sixth game and all entries since its final launch in the US in 2005. The long-running series of role-playing games never had a real breakthrough, but with Atelier Ryza 2 : With the legends lost and the secret fairy, this moment seems closer than ever. While RPG Workshop is still very popular, a lot of effort has gone into making it a little more user-friendly for new players, while still retaining everything that fans of the series have enjoyed.
Studio Rysa 2 : Lost legends and the secret fairy are an aberration in the Atelier franchise. This is the first time the main character from a previous game has returned to the stage. Ryza returns to the story set three years after Eternal Darkness and Secret Hiddenness, the latest title to be released in late 2019.
Rysa is no longer the apprentice of an alchemist, she now does her own research and teaches others. After a trip to the capital to investigate a strange stone, she meets her old friends and makes new ones trying to find out the truth behind a new mystery hidden deep in some ancient ruins.
The story itself is interesting because many of Rysa’s friends have changed somewhat in the three years since she last saw them. While Ryza focused on learning alchemy, the others pursued their dreams, and one gets the sense that all the characters evolved and matured in different ways. The focus is not only on the ruins, as Rysa must also help the inhabitants of the capital, which sends him on many side quests and gives many reasons to explore.
The combat system remains very similar to that of the previous title, but introduces the concept of skill chains. This means you can drop multiple abilities from the same character at the same time. This allows you to collect action items and release the skills you need when you need them. The overall system is again a hybrid of real time fun and engagement. Following your comrades, blocking your enemies, focusing on a goal and balancing all the skills and items means there’s a lot to do, especially in boss fights and long dungeons.
The main merge system in the game is how you develop your characters and gain access to all the necessary items and equipment. Your qualification structure consists of nodes that give you access to new recipes, and these recipes allow you to create new objects. These could be bombs, healing items or new equipment for your team. The synthesis is incredibly deep, as the game is filled with hundreds of potential ingredients to discover that can be used to alter every aspect of your items. New players will have to do a lot of trial and error to understand the synthesis, but there is a handy automatic feature that can do most of the work for you, giving you time to develop your understanding of the mechanics.
The synthesis system has also changed so much that fans of the first game have a lot to learn. You can now create entities that allow you to change the type of nodes you use in your recipes, increase the effect of the nodes, and more. There is a new system that makes it possible to combine existing elements and create entirely new ones. The best thing about synthesis is that it can be as complex or as simple as you like, leaving room for all kinds of skills.
The Ryza 2 Workshop respects players in several ways. You can change the difficulty at any time, and you can quickly get out of the middle of the dungeon if your team is about to collapse. You can then rest at home and quickly move on to the next point to explore further. It can be a bit obtuse in places, but it compensates by not punishing you for not understanding certain mechanics, but giving you enough time and opportunity to learn them.
Atelier Ryza 2 retains some of the strengths of the previous title, such as the character design, graphics, and beautiful soundtrack. Mechanically it evolves the first game by introducing swimming, climbing and even swinging between areas on the map. You will also spend some time exploring the ruins and trying to find special objects called fragments. These fragments give you a small glimpse into the past and require a special compass to find them. I don’t know why, but it uses a new map instead of a simple function of the main map, which seems unnecessary. These snippets never really take you beyond the immediate mechanics of finding and understanding things, but the overall history of Ryza 2 Workshop is a big improvement over the previous entry.
The game sometimes falls into the same trap of just being stupid and not helping the player do what they need to do. Fortunately, it wasn’t common, or at least not in a way that would have disrupted the fun we were having. If you are looking for 45 to 55 hours of roleplaying, Atelier Ryza 2 : Lost Legends and the Secret Fairy is a great way to pass the time. It may not have the overall polish of some great RPGs, but it’s still a fun and engaging title that should appeal to both veterans of the series and the newly curious.
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