Alchemist of Dusk Sky Review
Although I've never heard of the series, I set aside a solid week to throw myself into the game. And although it was a rocky start, the game has surprised me and genuinely made me a fan. My review is going to take you through the beginning to where I currently am in the game. No, I haven't completed my first run through yet. It honestly isn't the kind of game you can speed through. I know most hardcore fast gamers like to do a quick 72 hour run through of a game, well sorry kids, can't do that here. You would actually be failing in the game itself *and they will tell you and grade you on such, don't worry, that will make sense later* and miss out on the what they truly built this game around. Where it severely lacks in some areas that are obvious to me, it more than makes up for in the time you can see they put into it in it's Alchemy and fighting system, as well as the foraging and assignments. Theres lots to do once the game gets rolling. So I hope by the end of this you take the time to look into Atelier Escha&Logy~Alchemists of the Dusk Sky~!
Well to begin, if you have little to no patience, either suck it up and learn, or don't even bother. Cause this game has it tested. . . A LOT. The downloadable version of this game is a whopping 6.2 Gigs so I had to wait 24 hours before downloading and installation was complete, so be sure your PS3 has the room to start with! Then we move on to the intro to the game. It was very anime-like but was nonsensical. The characters were literally running around and walking to background music for no apparent reason. The animation was good but not needed. It did not tell much of a story, save that, big shock, the main male and female character will probably end up together! So gamers, you can definitely skip unless you like wasting valuable gaming time watching good animation. Then we get to picking who you are going to be, which is brief. You can either pick Escha (the girl) or Logy/Logix(the boy). With only two character choices, I naturally picked the female character first. And her intro ran along the same lines as the game intro itself, only not animated. The game relied heavily on still framed vectored images telling the story instead of actually telling what's going on. I suppose it was to be an air of mystery, but sitting through just made me want to punch something. There apparently was a conflict between a spirit and Escha, and the spirit ran off crying like a bitch. And then it cuts right into the actual characters, where Escha, and a woman named Clone are talking. The animation, upon first seeing it, was good and the characters well-developed in their styles. You can clearly see they put a lot of detail and effort in the characters. However when they spoke, I first believed that they had almost no emotions or actual motions to them. I realized an hour later that is because Clone*pronounced Clon-Eh* is in fact a robot. Don't worry, that doesn't spoil anything. It just took over a freaking hour to finish cut scenes and intros.
Sadly I feel the background, scenery design and coloring in animation for most of the game were not up to par with actual character color design and animation. They reminded me of the later N64 or PS2. Well, the backgrounds are admittedly better than that, but they still remind me of an N 64 rather than of a ps3 game in this day in age. I expect better, to me it was not the best. And again they could really spend a little more time animating the voice to the mouth of a character. The lack of movement and playing life in a character, I guess you could say, in the characters is very distracting from the game. I was really hoping the battle system was better than the animation of the characters in a talking scene. Cause so far, I was not all that impressed. The introduction to the game also seemed rather stagnant. Most people I know would have turned it off at this point out of lack of interest and boredom. Because I can't lie, it was very boring! I remember thinking, “F$%K I wish I didn't have to sit through it”. The game felt relatively stagnant so far. Regrettably I would discover that the creators of the game have a hard on for nonsensical scenes that do not really help the story, but that sadly, you HAVE to sit through. On one hand, they do develop the characters through out the game, and they do create bonds between them and some of the cut scenes are useful. But I promise you, it's rare and tedious. I truly wish they had had less of it. They felt like I was watching an anime adaptation where the studio needed filler episodes for ratings. If anyone has ever read a manga, with the lack of unneeded and over the top scenes, and then watched an anime of said manga, that is how watching these cut scenes for the most part felt. Like 10 episodes of Goku powering up, you aren't at all fooled by what they are doing, but you still have to stomach it. In the hour it took for all of them, I didn't even get a single tutorial! Thats right, in the first hour of the game, do not expect real game play.
I was hoping actual gameplay would make it more exciting. Thankfully, I was not disappointed. But seriously, if they spent more time on actual gaming instead of character introductions this game wouldn't be so boring in the beginning. I literally spent an hour meeting characters, and it just felt totally unnecessary. The other thing that annoyed me, was how they waste all my time animating the characters talking about unimportant stuff, BUT they use a cheap still frame voice over to introduce an apparently important part of the game. But as for other little bits you can do, there is one pretty fun thing I discovered while messing with the options. You can change your background music and pick from previous games to play the games older songs. I like the old music and I like the idea, it was very nifty! If you have made it this far in the game, GOOD, you are finally making to the parts that make it WORTH playing. So I am finally getting to the actual meaning of the game. There is apparently floating ruins above the town it is set in that have never been explored. Apparently the town was built to supplement the researchers with a place to live and eat. Then it became the town of Colseit, and started being a farm town instead. Over time Central City( the main town in the city though we have yet to visit it) set up a branch office to monitor the ruins and issues that needed to be resolved around town and the surrounding regions. The R&D branch seems to be the failing part of said office, and you are assigned to help fix it. So the plot is not too bad, but for young kids its slightly complicated but not overly so. For teens and adults its a great game that makes you think and you have to use your head. But definitely not a game for kids 10 years and younger. It would have too much going on for them to keep track of.
So how your objective works is you get a set amount of days to work by. Everything you do, from Alchemy to Synthesis to travel, takes up days. You get 4 month in game intervals to take care of your assignments. You have one main assignment that MUST be done, else you fail that quarter term. The benefit is once you do complete it, you get lots of other assignments to do afterwards. How you go about completing the main set of assignments dictates how much you will be able to accomplish for the rest of the term. I do like this whole 4 months thing with the different tasks. It not only makes you need to use strategy, but its kind of fun, it gives you different things to work on. Although it does feel a little bit like school that you have to get that one main task done or else you fail. You also get a monthly stipend, which is kinda like an allowance, but a fancier term for it. How much you get relies on how much you get done and how many assignments you complete. I like that you can also take on requests that awards you points to get homunculi (little adorable creatures with stars on their heads) to create items and ingredients for you, so they can do that for you and you can save days not having to synthesize them. But if you don't get them done, don't worry, you don't get punished for it. So that gave me more incentive to take them on. I also like the stipend and how they explain very thoroughly you have to watch your money. It also gave me a new word, stipend! Unlike the intro to the game, the tutorials on the objective are very precise clean and to the point and don't take too long. Gotta say, I like that, A LOT. I also do very much like the Alchemy I think it's a really cool thing. Theres lots of different items, that not only you can create, but what they can do and how they effect you all depends on what you put in and what the quality of the items are. I don't want to reveal too much about it, because finding your way through it on your own is really a fun part of it. I will say, you can see what they lacked in effort and time on backgrounds and character animation, they made up for in detail and extensive use of the Alchemy and Synthesis. And the travel! I am so glad you can get updates to make traveling faster! Its fun to work towards and I enjoy the fast travel, its very helpful.
Again, I cannot get over the level of detail in characters and monsters and how they starkly the contrast the background. Well the background isn't bad, but it definitely isn't up to level with the characters. You can see they put way more effort put in the character detail. But even that started to seem less stark as the game progressed. One place I truly enjoyed is later in the game, In the Lab of Eternity, the Blooming Pass is stunning. Its the only area and background I really liked looking at from an artists point of view. The areas though, honestly, are not as important as what you DO in the areas. Foraging and searching are a big part and are needed for your alchemy. Also the gauge for searching is really cool too. If you fight enough monsters, and find enough stuff, you can find bonus things, and the amount of options are really cool too. They really try not to limit you in what you can do in the game. And I really appreciated that fact. It made the game start to really grow on me even if the animation for the voice actors still is subpar. Whats awesome about this game is that before you know it, you're really enjoying it and starting to get addicted to it. I wish I could get addicted to the characters as well. I mean I really couldn't connect with the characters on a personal level, despite the fact that they really try to get you to. I typically skipped past all the needed talking cut scenes, as they didn't do anything for the story. While story building the sequences where you have to go talk to a character with an “!” was needed to continue the stories, they were a little unnecessary. They don't add anything so I usually skipped past the sentences.
What truly is addicting is the creating part of the game. I am really enjoying the Alchemy and synthesize tools I think they're really fun and a lot of things you can make and do. Being they are part of the tasks you would think they would make the game drag. But quite the contrary, it doesn't make the game boring at all, actually, it makes it more fun. I also really like that when you make a new weapon, it actually shows up in battle! I have played many other games where the creators make you purchase and upgrade weapons in game, but they never animate them to look any different. So you get the equip image of this EPIC looking weapon, but the one the character uses still looks like the first one you get! I get very mad when a lot of times they will not animate or change what characters carrying depending on what you remake. So I gratefully tip my hat and very much like that, thank you for not going cheap! I also like that if you complete things, like an item search, before a battle, after the battle, the item is still there waiting for you! They take away a lot of RPG frustrations I have had for years. They also make assignments easier. Even if you previously complete them, the game remembers and when eventually you DO get the assignment, you've already gotten the credit for it. It saved me from a lot of game rages. I personally have had many a fit over other games, going somewhere along the lines of, “YOU STUPID F#%ER I ALREADY DID THAT TASK!!! AAAAGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!”, but I digress.
Another bonus in the fighting system, I really like it if you have a character reserve they still level up with the rest of your characters so you don't have one left completely behind. Because when you DO need that mofo, its a lot more convenient to know you don't have to waste precious time grinding them! They have a lot of different uses in the battle system, like how you can choose to protect your characters from attacks with another character. Also the chain effect with attacks is great. I've used it many times and it helped greatly in battles. The specials are all specials should be and more. And The animation for battles attacks and items are spectacular!I finally saw where they put a great chunk of the animating efforts into! And one feature I adored! Once you equip something to your adventure pack, it automatically gets restocked when you go back to headquarters, like they are a work expense, instead of a private one. Which saved me LOTS of money and time in the game! They spent a lot of time making the actual game play less tedious and annoying for the gamer, which I really loved. Some may complain it takes away part of the challenge, but I disagree, I think it gives you more time to focus on the extensive other features of the game! Like the Experiment feature, which is something that involves your stipend. It lets you buys features for the game to make your game play easier, like for instance, quicker travel, and carrying more items. Also the features to make homunculi make more items for you. I also enjoy that when you're fighting you can buy a actual system you don't have to fight the monsters but you still get all the items.
Overall the game gets you hooked. Which to me is what makes a good game, it was unexpected, cause when I walked into this I didn't expect to actually enjoy doing it. But the game sincerely took me by surprise, and it was worth going through the annoying intro and long download. I am seriously excited to take on the next part of it. I wont reveal anything about the actual story or where I am, I'm not into spoilers or feeding the game to people. I encourage you to get off your ass and try it. If you have ever played Eternal Sonata, Any Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, Legend of Zelda, etc. , then try this game. Now Onto my overall overview of the game!
Pros and Cons
Convenient for gamer without being too easy
Extensive mini game and problem solving
Makes you think
Stunning character and Battle system
Download time far too long
Excessive cut scenes
Cut scenes are meaningless
Characters not relatable
Lack of effort in catching gamer early on