Gust’s Atelier series – a console-centric series I’ve had some positive experience with – is a recent arrival on the PC, first turning up this February with the release of Atelier Sophie. Finishing what they started, Koei Tecmo are making good on their promise to bring the entire localised ‘Mysterious’ sub-trilogy to PC, concluding with the release of Atelier Lydie & Suelle: Alchemists of the Mysterious Painting [official site], due for release on PC early next year.
The Atelier series have always represented the softer side of RPGs, even by Japanese standards. Relatively low-intensity stories of daily magical life for a series of (primarily) young women alchemists. The series puts a focus on the more practical aspects of fantasy life, especially on making ends meet as the proprietor of the Atelier – the local alchemy shop – buying or harvesting local ingredients in order to magically process into potions, crystals or delicious foods for the townsfolk through puzzle-based crafting minigames. Even though they offer a fair amount of traditional JRPG combat, there’s nothing grim or gritty here; even the monsters tend to be more cute than menacing.
While the series started way back in 1997 and now spans at least a dozen titles, Atelier Lydie & Suelle is the concluding chapter of the ‘Mysterious’ trilogy that began earlier this year on PC with Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist Of The Mysterious Book. While Sophie and her friends do seem to be involved in the story this time round, the protagonist role switches to the titular duo and their adventures exploring magical realms within paintings, in-between their daily grind mixing up mystical goodies and treats for the townsfolk.
While I’ve been meaning to give the series a deeper look, I’ve played a few hours of Sophie’s earlier adventures in mystical mercantile, and found it relaxing in a way that RPGs seldom are. Even the money-making aspects are kept relatively casual, and While I’m more of a ‘tactical combat above a pit of burning spikes’ guy, it seems like a pleasant all-ages introduction to the genre, especially for those wanting something a little less explicitly violent.