When it comes to RPGs there are a lot of assumptions. Typically, these are grind heavy games about fighting monsters to progress and defeat or accomplish some greater goal. This is largely true for the Atelier series, though it’s much more about the journey and the simplicities of life, than a larger than life hero fighting for a greater good. With them following simple people, supported by the friends they make along the way, the series has built a lot of good faith over the years. And, with Atelier Arland Series Deluxe Pack out for Switch and PlayStation 4, fans and newcomers alike can see what some of the earlier adventures were like. With cute girls and charming visuals, will it be a reminder of why the series became popular or a reminder of how far it came?
Atelier Arland Series Deluxe Pack begins with Atelier Rorona ~The Alchemist of Arland~ DX. The Arland story arc begins with Rorona, a young girl forced to be an alchemist under the questionable tutelage of Astrid. As the city of Arland continues to expand, Rorona is informed that their shop will be closed unless they can prove how viable alchemy actually is. This prompts a number of tests, which need to be completed within a certain time table, to determine their future.
Atelier Totori ~The Adventurer of Arland~ DX takes place a couple years after the events of the previous game and follows Totori. Having learned alchemy from Rorona and faith in a brighter future, she travels to the city of Arland in hopes to find her believed to be dead mother.
The final game included is Atelier Meruru ~The Apprentice of Arland~ DX. In this tale Meruru see’s the power of alchemy and believes it will help her kingdom expand. With the help of Totori, she sets out on a series of quests to improve her skills and help her kingdom grow.
Since each game builds off the previous one, it helps a lot to play them in order. Not just because they give spoilers to the previous stories but for all the small touches and references in later titles. While none of the stories are particularly amazing, they’re deep enough to warrant a play through and give a satisfying end, especially if you’re into silly, anime-esque, experiences.
Even if the stories are a little different, the main idea is the same. Regardless of whether you’re saving your shop, questing to find your mom or trying to improve living conditions, Atelier is all about time management. Every quest has a time limit, with every action having some kind of time associated with it. It doesn’t matter if you pick a fight, gather water or walk to a new location, there will be a time expense and that will dictate how your adventure progresses. For some, this is also the best part of the franchise.
If you want to achieve the best ending and see everything Atelier Arland Series Deluxe Pack has to offer, you absolutely must plan ahead. By figuring out when you should and should not fight, where you can and can’t travel and so forth, you’ll be able to accomplish every or at least the vast majority of tasks available. Thankfully, if this isn’t your thing, you can generally take it slow and still complete the adventure without much planning. It will likely cost you something or maybe prevent you from seeing the best possible outcome, though it’s nice to have that option.
Occasionally players will be asked to participate in battles. These generally require a little forethought and highlight the importance of friendship. Since characters can block attacks and every fighter fulfills some kind of role, the key to success is to always play to your team’s strengths. Block attacks that need to be blocked, focus on enemies, make the most of magic and don’t forget to use alchemy to your advantage.
Despite there being a couple rough patches, like graphics look good, even if they’re on the simple side, Atelier Arland Series Deluxe Pack runs quite well. Load times are pretty slow and there are none of the performance issues found in, say, Vita versions of the series. Honestly, outside of time and slow combat, the only real annoyance is having to use the d-pad to select things. This should be something you can do with the thumbstick, though it’s more of a minor annoyance than legitimate problem.
Atelier Arland Series Deluxe Pack gives players three cute games to explore. Even if these are not the most traditional RPGs around, the slow adventure makes them perfect for a pick up and play title. Sure, the time based elements are annoying and it’s far from the most robust combat system around but Atlier isn’t about being a hero, it’s about embracing the joys of everyday life. And, if nothing else, is what makes the franchise last for so long.
[Editor’s Note: Atelier Arland Series Deluxe Pack was reviewed on the Switch platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]