Koei Tecmo has re-launched three classic titles from their Atelier series in the Atelier Mysterious Trilogy Deluxe Pack. It’s available for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and PCs – our review is based on the PS4 version.
The ‘mysterious trilogy’ of games in the Atelier series are Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book, Atelier: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings. While two out of the three are new for the Nintendo Switch, all three were previously released on the PS4, but we were glad to see this wasn’t just a simple package deal but one that also features a few updates for the titles as well as all the additional and even some new content.
Having said that – this is a collection that will hold the biggest appeal to those who didn’t already buy the games in their original form and want to play though the entire saga. The changes and additions are nice, but not worth the price of admission if you already own the games unless you’re a diehard fan and want the complete collection with every version out there.
If you’re completely new to the series, or only ever had a passing interest, this collection of three games is certainly an interesting one in how it showcases the evolution of the trilogy as a whole – introducing new mechanics and abandoning old ones in between each title. It keeps you on your toes and keeps the experience fresh, but playing all three in a relatively quick succession also gives you the sense that the developers somehow couldn’t settle on what they were going for.
Narratively, however, you’ll want to tackle them in order, starting with Atelier Sophie. It introduces the core cast of characters to players as well as some of the gameplay fundamentals that are relatively consistent throughout all three games, despite the aforementioned changes. In 2021 the game feels visually dated when it comes to its 3D environments, although the artwork and style still hold up.
The experience is still relatively relaxed, but movement has been sped up which is great if you’ve already played the game before and just want to progress through the story quicker – or play all three games without having to spend an eternity traveling back and forth. Combat can also be made faster and/or easier this time, allowing players even more opportunities to focus on the story.
Moving on to Atelier Firis, you encounter a more open world, one that (in this DX version) can be traversed with vehicles to allow for speedier movement alongside an already handy quick travel option. Firis features a more streamlined questing experience as well as more RPG-like character development, so it feels more “mainstream” than Sophie did.
The final part of the trilogy, Atelier Lydie & Suelle, is a good showcase of the visual advances that were made since the release of Sophie. It features two protagonists rather than just one, and is set four years after the events of Firis, which itself was set four years after Sophie. Although this is subjective, the turn-based combat in Lydie & Suelle is my favorite of the three games in this pack because there is more tactical depth to it, which always appealed to me more than the synthesis/alchemy mechanics that are central to the Atelier experience.
As we mentioned, there isn’t too much here that’s new besides a few welcome improvements that streamline these games a bit, but if you never jumped at the chance to play any of the Atelier games or didn’t start until the Ryza games, this is great look at the recent history of the franchise.