GAMES - Review
12:00 - 4th May 2015, by Matt Kamen

Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea

The Atelier series is a rarity, offering J-RPGs that still feel like the genre from its PS1 glory years. Yet while Atelier Shallie continues to uphold convention, offering intuitive turn-based combat, exploration, and side quests aplenty, it also forges its own identity.

Unlike its peers, the series has always favoured creative item usage. Alchemy, as the subtitles always imply, is the key to success, more than unleashing powerful magic or monstrous summons. True to form, Shallie sees you controlling an aspiring alchemist, combining endless ingredients into new weapons, armour, and supplies.

Here, you have a choice of protagonists – regal Shallistera, seeking to save her home village, or Shallotte, an energetic girl trying to work her way to success. Those who played last year’s Atelier Escha & Logy will find the dual hero set-up familiar, though it’s far more pronounced here. Both nicknamed Shallie, each lead offers a very different perspective on the game’s events, only occasionally intersecting.

Shallie concludes the Dusk trilogy begun in 2013’s Atelier Ayesha. Given the motif of the world itself coming to an end, it’s cheerier than might be expected, but knows how to pack a few emotional punches along the way. Shallistera’s path is most connected to the ongoing story though, with Shallotte’s feeling better suited to newcomers.

While there’s a bit of grinding to be done, both in terms of gathering alchemy components and the more typical levelling up, you won’t mind. Shallie’s settings are beautifully absorbing (if a touch small, with frequent jumping between areas) and its battles, with a speedy system allowing you to chain attacks and burst through enemy defences, will keep you entertained throughout.

It is a little frustrating that you can’t deeply experiment with alchemy, only tweak existing recipes, but it’s a minor grievance in a splendid game.

It’s fitting a game about life at the end of the world comes to PS3 at the end of its run. Shallie is a visually and often emotionally beautiful game, and a perfect capper to the Dusk storyline.
SCORE: 5/5
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