It’s hard to believe I never played the first Atelier Ryza game despite it grabbing as much of my attention as any other unique-looking JRPG with an anime aesthetic would. While I was admittedly reluctant to get into a series with twenty-plus games under its belt, when the sequel to Atelier Ryza was announced less than a year later, I decided to throw all caution to the wind to dedicate my time to this interesting alchemy-themed game.
Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy takes place three years after the events of the first game and follows our heroine Reisalin Stout (aka Ryza), an alchemist from Kurken Isle who ventures to the capital city Ashra-am Baird, alongside a few friends from the first game to explore some mysterious ruins located in the capital, and to find out what the deal is with this mysterious furry creature that hatched from an egg called FI. Throughout the game, players will explore these ancient dungeon-styled ruins to uncover their mystery while also learning each ruin’s history.
The first issue I had with Atelier Ryza 2 right from the get-go was how incredibly slow-paced the narrative was as the game first introduces players to the world, characters, and Ryza’s new circumstances, before getting into the meat and potatoes of the story. The most annoying aspect specifically was how much useless dialogue the game contained, as you’ll often see the characters going on and on about nothing before finally getting to the point of a subject.
Atelier Ryza’s gameplay was admittedly what attracted me to the game the most, especially its signature Alchemy system present in each entry of the series. This system should not be underestimated as it’s quite literally one of the most critical aspects of the game. As such, it is quite broad and in-depth, so it might take some time to get used to for new players especially. To make any item in the game, players will first have the recipe, all the necessary ingredients, and the skill to make said item.
The higher the quality of the ingredients, the greater the item’s effect. Craft an item well enough, and you’ll be rewarded bonus traits and skills for the item as well as additional skill points. The issue I had with this system (aside from its initial complexity) is how little it explains the alchemy mechanics, most likely because, as a sequel, it assumes those playing it already know everything about it.
Combat-wise, Atelier Ryza 2 uses an interesting blend of both turn-based and real-time combat, not unlike the combat system seen in the Tales series. Players essentially wait for their turn to attack enemies with a mix of basic and special attacks. The combat system was surprisingly easy to get the hang of. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for using consumable items as I found the act of finding the desired item, crafting it, and learning where to equip it to be an unnecessarily complicated ordeal. However, despite this, I still enjoyed the combat system as I found it to be both swift and fulfilling, with its incredible looking special attacks serving as a bonus.
When not running around in dungeons fighting cute monsters, collecting way too many items, and opening chests, players can also explore the capital, Ashra-am Baird, to accept sub-quests and meet strangers through random encounters, some of who will join the party after completing a specific quest. Players can also head to Ryza’s atelier to save, craft items, and oddly enough, redecorate.
Another part of Atelier Ryza that drew me in is its incredible and frankly awe-inspiring environmental designs, each of which showcased astonishing detail. The game also sports crisp anime visuals, unique character designs, and a dynamic soundtrack that matches its day and night cycle. Though it would’ve been nice if said soundtrack had a lot more songs. These details succeed in proving just how much effort and time was put into the game.
In conclusion, despite some of its unnecessarily complicated mechanics, dialogue, and slow-paced narrative, I enjoyed my time with Atelier Ryza 2 as I spent well over 60 hours in Ashra-am Baird, fighting monsters, discovering lost legends, and crafting the most efficient variety of explosives known to man. I also enjoyed my time spent with the characters, especially Ryza, who I found to be a simple yet endearing protagonist.
As Atelier Ryza 2 is the latest installment in the long-running franchise, some newcomers might want to jump into the game headfirst. I wholeheartedly advise against this. However, if you’re among those who insist on doing that, I suggest you do a ton of research beforehand.
Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy
Atelier Ryza 2 is a good looking and highly entertaining game once you get past its snail paced narrative and complicated mechanics.