Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
Taking up three years after the original events of Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & The Secret Hideout, Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & The Secret Fairy in a first for the series sees both the return of the original cast and of the original protagonist continuing her adventures. With new features, locations and party members, the crew is once again about to embark on an incredible adventure that most people wish they could be part of instead of being relegated to the sidelines as teachers.
I’ve been playing the Atelier Series for a long time now and while certain elements like the high emphasis alchemy has remained the same, other elements have been experimented with and have changed over the years from one entry to the next. From pure RPG elements in the first two entries of the Atelier Iris Trilogy to time based goals in the third and that of Atelier Rorona, Atelier Sophie and Atelier Firis blended both those lines for something new and familiar until Atelier Ryza’s debut. No timeline, no outright in your face goals, just wherever the adventure took the party.
Keeping in line with the latest direction of the series, Atelier Ryza 2 and Ryza’s adventures continue the path laid out while also following in the rest of the series’ footsteps by adding in new features and refining existing ones. Moving from her home island that Ryza, Tao, Lent and Klaudia saved years prior, Ryza being the only left at home finally heads out to the Capital after receiving a letter from Tao who says they found something to help Ryza with her alchemy. Taking a ship and walking the rest of the way, the new adventure is off to a good start.
Perhaps one of the bigger changes to the newest adventure is that it feels more mature than the previous as the cast are now a bit older and have been going about their own separate lives for the past several years. Setting up shop in the capital, Ryza’s new workshop will double as her new home while Tao and Klaudia, to start off with, are set up elsewhere in the city for their own affairs. This helps both set the new setting and the in between moments as you’ll be swapping between the various quarters that your party members are staying in without sacrificing the lighter moments that the series is known for.
With the change in locations from her home coastal island to that of a very much land based capital, the manner in which Ryza and the rest of the party will move around has changed. While originally having a starting point and being able to move as far as your tools such as Ryza’s staff, bug nets, axes, and bomb staves would allow, things this time around a bit more “story” based in how the party finds out about new ruins and the paths that lead to them. The style itself hasn’t changed as you’ll still be moving from one location to the next and sometimes even finding a side path for resources, but it’s a bit less explore at your own rhythm and more explore where we suggest you to.
To make it through these areas and to the ruins in question, the series staple of Alchemy makes a return and thankfully this time around it doesn’t take long to get the cauldron going as Ryza is already an Alchemist and knows what’s she doing. The only issue is that unfortunately Ryza left EVERYTHING back home when she came over to the capital so new equipment is going to have to be synthesized to make the party’s life a bit easy. Staves, swords, bows, knives, bug nets, axes, fishing roads, bombs, ores, oils, and a very big etc, will all have to be relearned with the materials that the region provides.
Making things perhaps a bit easier this time around though is that instead of having to figure all of these big things out on your own, Ryza has a skill tree which can be unlocked by using Skill Points acquired either by performing alchemy or by exploring ruins and solving their secrets. The skill tree itself is pretty basic with lines leading from one item to the next showing you exactly what you’ll need to learn first in order to get over to what you are currently aiming for. Items on the skill tree that have a plus mean that you’ll get more than one recipe for spending the points to learn it while others on the tree increase the quality of the materials you can acquire and how successfully you do so with your staff or your hands if they are something lying on the ground.
Moving down the list of refinements, and not just with Ryza’s cauldron, is how you go about picking up materials. To collect materials, you’ll be able to as mentioned above pick them up off the ground but you’ll also be able to whack them with a staff, swing a bug net, fish in a pond or river, or swing an axe at a tree or a rock. Adding in things like the bomb staff and the materials that can be collected from the various sources across each location can easily change. That part hasn’t changed, but what has is that now you can hit multiple things on the field at the same time and collect them all. Now, if you want to hit a tree once for example, you can press and hold with the current item equipped and be done with it instead of swinging until it’s finished being harvested. You can still do that if you want to harvest different things, but if it’s only one thing you want like chopping down wood? You need only swing once.
Now because Ryza can’t just be left in peace to collect these resources, there are monsters everywhere and a fair amount will want a piece of Ryza and her party for intruding on their natural habitats or territories. Keeping in line with the first, combat is still real time and continues to use the “tactics” system but the rest of it has changed from how to use skills and how to use items such as crafts, bombs and healing items. Now, every character can hit the enemy about three times if they want adding in Action Points (AP) to the meter. The total amount of AP is limited by the current tactics level. In order to increase the tactics, you now simply need to continue battling your enemies and using up AP to perform skills instead of wasting it on raising the tactics level.
Having very recently gone back over the last chapter of Atelier Ryza, the change in combat took a bit of getting used to as AP used to be something you wanted to conserve to a degree while now it’s honestly something to spam as that’s the only way to get higher tactics levels. Side to that, items still use core points but until a certain point in the story where you can unlock stronger core crystals by modifying them, you’ll be starting battle with a total of zero. While before you had a total of ten and could use up an item in order to boost the amount of points, now it’s the inverse. You start with none and it’s only through using AP and chaining your skills together that you’ll get CC to use your items. It’s tough in the beginning until you get the hang of it, but as a system upgrade? It’s worth it as you can now carry over unused points to use healing items from your menu.
Keeping in line with all of these changes is the new format of the “dungeons” that Ryza will be exploring. While in Atelier Ryza it was all about exploring the various reaches of the mainland after setting up their Secret Hideout, Atelier Ryza 2 is about exploring the various ruins around the capital that people have simply seemed to not care about as they go about their busy days. Staying relatively close, the secrets of these locations require more than simply going through, defeating monsters and gathering materials for synthesis. Along for the ride is Fi, who is this little adorable fairy-like creature that tags along with Ryza for the ride and helps to find clues through the use of a magic compass by uncovering echoes of the past.
These echoes, these remnants of events past, are scattered throughout the various areas of each ruin and are required to be collected and put into a logical order to uncover what happened so that the party can then figure out what’s missing in order to move forward. It’s a bit odd at times and it can definitely cause a standstill in the adventure as these echoes are not available up front. Instead, you have to get the compass to find them to activate before being able to search for these and until you get that up and running, you could run in circles for a few hours trying to figure out what to do. At least I was able to level up my party and get some really fancy new gear through what probably ended up being two hours of synthesis to unlock everything that I could at that point in time.
In regards to the dungeon approach though, it’s not a bad change of pace but it often felt a little less “free” than the previous entry as each location is only granted as the story moves on and it’s not like it’s blocked off because you don’t have the tools, it’s simply just not there. The rewards for collecting and putting all of the echoes in place is obviously worth it (even if you have to do it) as it gives you plenty of SP to use in the Skill Tree and other items that can be synthesized to make the journey a bit easier, but it came at a bit of cost.