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Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk Review

The Atelier series of games have had a steady release over the years, offering familiar JRPG (Japanese Role Playing Game) gameplay but with more of a focus on crafting potions. Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk is no different, keeping with what had come before and not really pushing any boundaries, but that does not necessarily make it a bad game.

Playing as Ayesha, a shy and recluse young lass who following the death of her grandfather and disappearance of her sister Nio has shut herself from the world, finding solace in using her apothecary skills to create medicine to sell to travelling vendors, her only real companion, a pet cow. Ayesha only really leaves the confines of her house to collect materials from her garden and occasionally visits the last place she saw her sister, a strange ruin. On her most recent visit Ayesha is met by the spirit of Nio, appearing in a flash of light. Confused as to what is going on, Ayesha also comes across a stranger who tells her that the way of alchemy and the strange glowing flowers located at the ruin are the key to saving her sister, who has three years before an uncertain fate awaits her. Happy that her sister is actually alive and can be saved, Ayesha is then spurred on by this news and ventures the surrounding world, asking whoever comes her way about the ways of alchemy, in turn helping many in return with her apothecary skills.

Though three years seems like a long time, in reality every day whittles away very quickly as with every action, it will cost you time. Travelling, harvesting items and also creating concoctions at her cauldron, Ayesha's time is very short, with the game offering many different endings and even an epilogue depending on how you decide to approach the story.

Being a JRPG you can expect lots of chatting to characters, carrying out side quests and of course fighting. The majority of the fights are like any other JRPG, a turn based affair, allowing you to attack and use skills or items against enemies. As you fight, each character earns AC (Active Command) points; which when the gauge is full, can be used to send an ally as an alternative attack or if a character is about to fall in battle, send another to act as a human shield and take the damage. This is an interesting addition to the usual slow pace of turn based attacks as it needs to be commanded within a certain time. Another tactical element included here is the ability to "move" around the battle area. With each turn you can position the playable characters in more strategic areas, be it on the side or even behind the enemy, taking advantage of whatever that position grants.

Though there are plenty of fights along this huge journey and even beyond, the synthesis element is a major part of gameplay, as rather than picking up items from shops you can purchase base ingredients, which you can then use to create all new items in the cauldron. Of course the items in shops are relatively common so if you want to collect more rare items you'll need to venture away from the beaten path and here is where some crucial choices arrive, do you spend your time collecting, visiting every nook and cranny of the world map, finding more interesting recipes and items or steadily progress through the story? As you wander around the world, clearing areas of enemies, more areas will open up, however it is very hard to gauge just how difficult the battles will be in the new area, with trial and error the only real way and this is one of the problems I had with the game as the difficulty levels vary wildly from one area to the next, taking on relatively easy monsters in one area, and then moving to the next where your team is wiped out in a few moves. Thankfully in the result of a team wipe-out it is not game over, you just lose a few days and return to the field view, allowing you to run away, tail between your legs to heal and decide upon a new plan of action.

Along with creating more powerful items to use via alchemy there are also numerous ways of ranking up Ayesha and her friends; the most direct being through battle, but there are also bonuses in levelling up skills when using the cauldron, allowing you to create even more helpful items and also memory points, scored by helping and adventuring, with Ayesha able to spend these on making important notes in her diary about friends made on her adventures, which in turn increase certain skills.

Graphically Atelier Ayesha is a pleasant looking game, with unique looking manga style characters, all quite cute and dressed up in what I would call a country lace look, a cross between light coloured Goth style clothing and something your Nan would wear when cooking. The characters themselves are rather stereotypical of these sorts of games in the way of their actions, but the looks are more toned down, not your typical JRPG and more full of flowers and pastel colours.

Though mostly an enjoyable experience my main bug bear is the inability to save mini quests; as you wander around the cities and villages some of the residents will ask for an item, but there is no option to save or view these requests, leaving pen and paper to remind you, which is not exactly a step forward in game progression. Even though a small oversight, it ripples through the game, frustrating that you can't remember who or where these quests reside.

Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk is a refreshing approach to the classic JRPG template, offering hours of gameplay and many different ways to reach the endgame.

Words By Ash Buchanan.
(Version Tested: PS3)


- Fantastic soundtrack
- Original anime style
- More accessible than precious Atelier games.
- Multiple endings


- The simplistic synthesis system may put off hard core Atelier fans.
- Difficulty is unpredictable

Edited On 13 Mar, 2013

( 1 )
Gummy's avatar
Gummy 4 years ago
I'm really enjoying Ayesha so far. It's more story-driven than the Arland series was (which was more about character development). I agree about not being able to save the requests, but it isn't a massive deal since they seem less important than in the previous games. There are less dirty jokes, which is nice. The Arland series went a bit overboard on that front.

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