Atelier Mysterious Trilogy Deluxe Pack: Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and The Mysterious Journey DX by developer Gust and publisher Koei Tecmo America—Sony PlayStation 4 review written by Richard with a copy provided by the publisher.
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
Fresh off the platinum from Atelier Sophie DX, we are now moving into the second game in the “Mysterious Trilogy”, Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey DX. Also like Sophie, I am only a few trophies off the platinum for Firis. As a direct sequel to Atelier Sophie, you don’t need to actually know anything about Atelier Sophie to play Firis, although it does help. With some changes made, both positive and negative, let’s take a look at Atelier Firis.
Atelier Firis tells the story of Firis, a young girl, Firis, who lives in an isolated city known for its ore and mining. She is trapped in the city by a large stone door that only lets certain people through, or something like that? The door mechanics aren’t really explained, but basically Firis is a young girl trapped inside her village. One day, Sophie comes by, literally blows up the door trapping her inside, and then decides to teach Firis alchemy, as Sophie thinks that Firis has the talent for it. Unfortunately for Firis, the mayor/elder and Firis’ parents don’t want to let her leave. To prove she can handle herself, she has to complete tasks for the residents using alchemy. After completing the tasks laid out by the elder, Firis is allowed to remain outside, but only if she manages to pass the License exam held in Reisenburg.
Atelier Firis plays a little different from its predecessor in a number of ways. In terms of main gameplay, what you will notice right off the bat as a difference from Sophie is that there is a time limit. Two of them, actually. The first time limit is about 30 days to complete the tasks for the residents, and then you have a year to reach and pass the alchemy exam. If you manage to pass the exam, which isn’t too difficult, then you have as much time as you want in order to get a character specific ending, or all of them. If you fail the exam, you still “finish” the game, but will unlock a “new game +” where you can carry over select items and proficiency. Time will pass as you walk on the field, create items using alchemy, or gather items.
Next up is the changes made to the alchemy system. Like in Sophie, you are tossing materials of different sizes onto a grid, trying to fill out colour bonuses to get certain effects. In Firis, this has evolved a little, as there are “bonus lines” you can fill in that will give you different boosts. The basic idea is that you are trying to make an item out of base materials, which have certain effects attached to them, and you can put those on items, while trying to make high quality items. Like in Sophie, you have an alchemy level that will increase the more items you make. Unlike in Sophie however, the Alchemy level needs to meet or exceed the level of the item in order to make it. Additionally, you can transfer up to 3 item traits between materials, but unlike in Sophie where this number is based on alchemy level, the trait transfer is based on filling in bonus lines, and item proficiency. Item proficiency works similar to alchemy level, as you make an item, it and all the directly related items will earn exp. There are four ratings: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. Higher levels will provide different bonuses, such as more traits to transfer, a quality bonus, or an increase in consumable item uses or the number of items made.
Combat is also a little different from Sophie. While combat is still turn based, with speed determining turn order and frequency, gone are the “stances” from Sophie. You still have your basic attacks, skills, items, and run commands. Enemies will have different weaknesses to both weapon and element types, which you can use to exploit enemy weaknesses. I’d like to point out here that unlike in previous Atelier games, where you can get by on levels and base equipment, Atelier Firis basically makes items the only really worthwhile method of damaging some of the late game enemies. When your normal attacks hit for 100, and your items hit for 1,500 damage? Yeah, guess who’s using a lot more items in this game. Also, quality affects item efficiency by a huge amount. I have a 250 and 500 quality item, both with the same traits, and the 500 quality item does about double the 250 quality item. Unlike in Sophie as well, quality doesn’t really affect weapons or armour, just accessory bonuses and item power. Also, adventurer level, which is responsible for giving you base stat increases, does a lot less than in Sophie. While the 20 level cap is gone, you earn a lot less stat increases than in Sophie, so just be aware of that if you’re coming from Sophie.
Movement on the map and exploration are the key components of Firis, as the main focuses is on the alchemy component. Depending on how you feel about this, you’re either going to love or hate Firis for a few different reasons. The travel speed is rather slow, and while the run button helps, it still remains slow until you unlock the speedier travel option in the post exam period. Your container for alchemy materials is also really small. I believe Sophie started with a 5,000 capacity, whereas Firis starts much smaller, although you can expand that. Couple the time limit with the exploration and gathering that consumes time, and you might be worried about missing the deadline for the alchemy exam. Well, don’t worry, because you have plenty of time to explore and make it to the exam on time. I explored as much as I could and spent time crafting high quality and trait gear and items, and still had 151 days left by the time I made it to the exam, so don’t fret over that too much.
I should mention here that there is no “world map” in the same way Sophie had it, as all the areas are interconnected, and you have to travel from one place to another. With the introduction of the portable Atelier, this is a lot more feasible than the stationary option from Sophie. There are also a lot of costumes included in Firis DX, most come with some really helpful effects, such as reducing travel time, or increasing exp earned from synthesis. In fact, most of the different outfits in Firis offer some sort of bonus, and you may find yourself swapping between them quite a lot. New Game + provides all the effects to all the outfits, meaning you can wear whatever you want without worrying about effects. Pro tip, you can actually “New Game +” by sleeping away your days at the start of the game as soon as you leave Ertona, and then you can get that costume bonus.
I have to say, Firis looks quite nice graphically, with plenty of sprawling and diverse areas to explore and harvest from. Speaking of harvesting, no longer do you just walk up to a spot and press ‘X’ to gather. Well, you do, but there are also trees, logs, and boulders that you can make items to help in gathering. For example, you can blow rocks up with bombs. I’d also like to say that the music in Firis is really great. While there are a few remixes from Sophie, there are also a lot of new and catchy tunes that you’ll be sure to enjoy. What you probably won’t enjoy is the LP system. Like in Sophie, you have LP that reduces as you perform actions. In Firis you start with 100 points, and if the LP gets low enough, you have a detriment in battle, and if it completely runs out, you need to stop to take a rest. If it runs out again? Then you’re sent back to the last campfire/atelier rest stop and lose a bunch of the collected items. On a related note, losing a battle also sends you back to the atelier while removing a number of harvested items. The problem with LP though is that you’ll find it depletes really fast.
Now, one of my biggest issues with Firis, apart from the container capacity, is how the recipe book functions. In Sophie, all the recipe hints were fairly self explanatory, except maybe two or three. In Firis, unlocking recipes is done by performing certain actions, which will give you a base idea for what you’re making. Then you need to perform more of those actions to give a better hint, and then even more of those actions to actually unlock the recipe. It’s really frustrating not knowing how many recipes I’ve unlocked vs. how many more I need, or what the requirements are when I can’t even tell what type of item it is. Fortunately, if you aren’t a fan of doing some of the more annoying tasks, you can spend idea points to unlock the recipe without performing all the actions required for it. Idea points are gained from side quests, a new addition from Sophie, where you can talk to people or go near certain landmarks, and Firis will have a quest to investigate or complete. Some of these will give items or money, but almost all of them give idea points. It should be noted that some of them are also repeatable.
The last thing I want to talk about here is the exam itself. I think you only need 50 points to pass the exam, which is actually really easy to do. That being said, the exam is three parts, of which I personally scored a total of 374 points. Granted this is me with my end game acceptable items and gear, but the exam comes in three parts, and the first part is a written test that had me sweating. No really, whoever came up with those questions is one of the biggest sadists I’ve ever heard of. “Magician’s wisdom is earned through the combination of what two traits” my arse. You ask me about Ultimate Destruction, Well Rounded Power, All Skill Super, or a more useful combination trait? Sure, no problem, but asking me which area Griffon monsters DON’T spawn in? Hell if I know that. At least it’s only 20 questions, so do your best everybody!
Overall, I quite enjoyed my experience with Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey. I can’t really say I liked any more or less than Atelier Sophie, but that isn’t a bad thing. There were some good changes, and some changes that frustrated me. I liked the more open world concept, but the skimpy container and the looming time limit put a bit of a damper on things. If you enjoyed Sophie, I can basically assure you you’ll enjoy Atelier Firis with its sprawling landscapes and more in-depth alchemy process. So get the cauldron stir stick back out, cuz it’s time to do some magic.Score: 8.5 / 10