Every new entry in the Atelier series brings a brand new adventure that explores exciting worlds, and introduces new concepts which add to the fun gameplay that we know and love. Players jumping into the series for the first time will experience great joy and satisfaction as the alchemy system within Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland has vastly improved, making it a lot easier to synthesize items that you’ve collected. This of course is great news for devoted fans too, as they now have a chance to experience improvements that only add more fulfillment to the alchemy gameplay.
What to Expect
Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland takes place several years after Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland, and stars the very bubbly Elmerulia Fryxell (Lulua for short), who strives to become the best alchemist with the help of her childhood friend, Eva Armster. Her mother Rorona Fryxell is her inspiration to become the very best, and will do what it takes to continue carrying the torch that she left behind. There’s a lot to expect from this fresh experience as you’ll now be revisiting the land of Arland to see just how everything has evolved from the last time, along with building new relationships with some familiar characters. Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland introduces all-new features such as improved synthesis, exploration, and battle mechanics that help to bring the game to life, but still retain that signature Atelier flare that fans will surely enjoy. With the combination of Arland-style gameplay and traces of the latest Mysterious series fused together, Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland opens up a door of new and exciting possibilities!
Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland has taken a lot of visual notes from previous iterations of the series, revamping the overall presentation to provide a more realistic experience for players. The game still retains its notable anime-style design and clever camera mechanics, but does so more gracefully, which provides much more seamless animations. Colors are a lot more vibrant and really are accentuated by the transitioning between night and day, with day time really illustrating how visually stunning this game is. In previous titles, during your outdoor excursions there were instances where the frame rate would drop due to the vast amount of detail in the environment design. In Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland, the Nintendo Switch handles everything quite well and not once did we encounter any significant issues in spite of a lot happening, which is a vast improvement over previous iterations. The UI has also seen some slight changes which make everything a little bit more accessible and user-friendly, which only add value to the immersive experience. One beautiful example is the field screen, which closely resembles that of a board game, and you navigate around the world on this beautifully designed template which we loved!
The cheerful and upbeat music that you’ve come to know and love have returned in Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland, but now with the option to customize your experience for even more joyous moments. By heading to the settings, you’ll be able to select your favorite tracks from Atelier Rorona and Atelier Rorona Plus and have them play in certain areas of the game. For example, if you’re traveling through a forest and want to hear the nostalgic Rorona Plus soundtrack, you can easily swap the default track right away. Everytime we hear the soundtrack we’re enamored by just how simple yet so uplifting every track is, and how it really helps to bring the world of Atelier to life in a remarkable way. It makes running around and exploring more gratifying but more so, it helps to establish connectivity with the overall theme of the game which is crafting and exploration.
The tried and true synthesis mechanic still remains intact, but with the new ‘Alchemyriddle’ feature players must now decipher riddles from this book in order to learn recipes. You’re also able to read reference books which you can purchase from various parts of the game, but what makes the new Alchemyriddle feature so fun is that it really encourages you to participate, and explore the game deeply. Every Alchemyriddle provides a written dialogue that you’ll need to pay careful attention to, as it provides details as to where you’ll need to go in order to successfully obtain each item, but to progress in the story as well. Some riddles want you to slay certain monsters, gather specific items, and synthesize, while others encourage you to speak to locals for useful information about certain recipes. Once you’ve acquired all of the necessary keywords you can then ‘decipher’ the riddle, which will grant you with a wide range of great rewards. There are secondary pages within the book which are essentially side missions, but these objectives tend to provide some very useful information that could aid you on your story progression, so we highly encourage you to explore as much as possible.
When going through with your synthesis, it’s always important to be mindful of what each item’s effects do, since they can help to create advantageous outcomes during battles. More importantly, the effects that will actually materialize in the final product are determined by the sum of the alchemic elements found in the specific slots. What this means is that you’re not always guaranteed a successful outcome since everything depends on the value, and if that value tends to be more than it should, it could result in a poor synthesis.
Items also carry traits during the synthesis and a maximum of three can be carried over into the final product, so it’s really essential to look over each trait and see which will be of greater benefit to you in the long run. It’s not just about throwing items into the cauldron for the sake of completing a task, there’s actually a lot of framework that must be accounted for to make sure your items provide the best results.
Gathering in Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland still feels very much the same as you’ll be doing a lot of it throughout your gameplay. In fact, we feel that gathering plays an integral role because collecting the right items can really come in handy when you need to create powerful bombs in order to open new paths or defeat enemies in battle, for example. Time progression plays a big role as well since new enemies and items will appear depending on whether it’s morning, noon, afternoon, evening or night. Weather changes can affect the item availability too, so when you go on gathering expeditions, make sure to plan accordingly.
We mentioned earlier in the review that the battle system received improvements and one of those is the Interrupt system, which as the name suggests allows players to interrupt the turn of an enemy or ally. This feature can only be used by alchemists and items must be equipped beforehand in order to be used during battles. This becomes especially important in the later portion of the game, where interrupting the flow of battle can create some serious comeback potential, especially when your team is struggling to close things out. For example, we typically use Lulua as our support member so when we’re in need of emergency healing, all we need to do is press the R+X buttons to activate the interrupt. As you level up your characters, you’ll receive new buffs that will allow you to activate interrupt multiple times, giving you an extreme advantage during boss battles.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
After tons of hours invested into Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland, we can honestly say that this is perhaps the most well rounded and polished Atelier title to date. With many fixes made to the overall flow of gameplay, and new elements added such as Interrupt battle mechanic, Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland feels lively and doesn’t ever feel boring, even during those long gathering expeditions. The added option of being able to swap music is a nice treat, and the Alchemyriddle book is a very creative way to encourage players to stay immersed in the experience and explore the game as much as possible.
The only real issue we encountered were the facial animations of the characters, which really didn’t do a good job of expressing true emotions and at times it felt static. It didn’t help to truly convey what was happening and had the voice acting not existed, it would’ve been hard to really feel for the characters. Be that as it may, there weren’t really any other major complaints that stood out!
Everything lovely about the Atelier series still remains, albeit a few new changes to create a fresh experience.
Voice acting really helps to bring each character to life and help to develop chemistry.
The new Interrupt mechanic is really effective during long arduous battles, making comebacks more prevalent.
As with every Atelier title, Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland is full of discovery, so there’s hours worth of content to enjoy!
The facial animations really haven’t improved much and still need tweaking to really make the characters feel more real.
Honey's Final Verdict:
Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland is an adventure that never stops giving and the more you explore, the many doors of opportunity start to burst open. While progressing through the story is certainly enticing, we actually had a lot of fun just wandering around doing side missions, leveling up our team and preparing for the long game, which really felt satisfying. We hope you discover your own way of enjoying the game and let us know what your thoughts are in the comments below!
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Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!