Even as a fan of RPGs myself, the Atelier Arland series and I have been like two ships passing in the night. Starcrossed by both my limited schedule and the role-playing genre's requirement that I sacrifice the equivalent of a small child's lifetime to complete any one game. And that's just with a single playthrough. Many fans swear the synthesise 'em up is every bit as lovely as its beautiful cutscenes look, though, and today the fourth instalment hit Steam, Atelier Lulua: The Scion Of Arland.
That's a bit of a fib, though. See, the Atelier Arland games only comprise a sub-section of the Atelier series proper, for which developer Gust Co. has churned out twenty games in as many years. Intimidating, I know, but though some of these sub-sections share similar characters and mechanics, each Atelier game has a self-contained story.
Some lean more heavily on turn-based battles, while others focus on exploring the world to find materials to synthesise. The Arland games fall under the latter, each tasking the player to prove alchemy's potential to an authority figure like a king or a mayor or the person with the largest hat. From what I've absorbed through osmosis via fellow RPG nerds, it's like Bandai Namco's Tales games and Persona had a baby with the alchemy system of Skyrim. In previous games in the series, you had to complete your ultimate task within a particular time limit or get the 'bad' ending, but The Scion Of Arland does away with that restriction.
The Scion Of Arland stars Lulua, a daughter of one of the previous characters, trying to outshine her mother as a master of alchemy. Most of the game concentrates on gathering materials, unlocking recipes, crafting items, and mixing 'em all together while you build relationships with your fellow travellers. Along the way players get a front-row seat to see how the world Of Arland has changed since their last time there.
Given that a decade's gone by since the last three games, fans have been eager to get their hands on The Scion Of Arland. Let's just hope they can still squeeze a few dozen hours into their schedule to enjoy it.
Atelier Lulua: The Scion Of Arland is out now on Steam for £49.99/€59.95/$59.99.