Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Atelier Totori: The Adventures of Arland

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Electronic Theatre ImageAs the installed userbase for the current-generation systems continues to grow, NIA America is becoming more and more confident with bringing their core titles to PlayStation 3 gamers internationally. Their latest, Atelier Totori: The Adventures of Arland, would arguably have struggle to find an audience earlier in the generation, but following the success of last year’s iteration fans are treated to this sequel.

While Atelier Totori: The Adventures of Arland is the direct sequel to Atelier Totori: Alchemist of Arland, it’s actually the twelfth instalment in the Atelier Totori series. The thirteenth, a direct successor to Atelier Totori: The Adventures of Arland, is already available in Japan. Suffice to say, fans of Atelier Totori will surely have a keen idea Electronic Theatre Imageof what they’re letting themselves in for; beyond that, you’d be hard pressed to find a reason to begin your life with the franchise here with Atelier Totori: The Adventures of Arland.

As a direct successor, Atelier Totori: The Adventures of Arland picks up the story of Atelier Totori: Alchemist of Arland five years later as Totori, in her hometown of Alanya, as she finds Rorona starving in front of her house. In exchange for Totori’s kindness towards her Rorona teaches Totori about alchemy. When Totori leaves Alanya in search of her lost mother, the real training begins.

The videogame’s central conceit is of course this alchemy basis, defined in within the virtual confines as ‘ synthesis’. The synethsis system is fairly complex at first, throwing a great deal at the player before asking them to swim, and things don’t get much easier until several hours have beenElectronic Theatre Image invested. However, many NIS fans will be expecting this, and those who do persevere will find a deep and rewading system at it’s heart.

Nearly every item you will benefit from on your adventure, and every new piece of clothing or armour that you will wear upon your back, will most likely have been made by yourself. In a similar fashion to the recently released The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the basic formula is to choose a item, select the ingredients and then claim your reward, however here in Atelier Totori: Alchemist of Arland, the real skill is involved in creating the right items with the right statistics to benefit your team. Over the course of the videogame players will have to learn the implications of item traits, levels, ingredient quality, and classes. It also means that players will have to scour the environments looking for the best locations for specific ingredients. There are many times atElectronic Theatre Image which the player will discover the key to their progress only to require better equipment to enable it successfully, and this is where knowledge and experience of the synthesis system becomes the most important factor.

Atelier Totori: Alchemist of Arland’s combat system is somewhat less enjoyable than the synthesis. A turn-based affair, the sequences are surprisingly hurried, minimising the amount of time the player is without action. Party members each have unique abilities and advantages, but as Totori is the only alchemist it’s only she who has the ability to use powerful disposable items in combat, offering the player reason to keep her in the party throughout the adventure. The strategy applied to other party members will be based around this, as Tortori can function as either healer or aggressor, or anywhere in between.

The presentation of Atelier Totori: Alchemist of Arland is your typical assortment of brightly coloured anime sprites and cutesy pie characterisation. The story is a bittersweet adventure that is often overdone in it’s emotional delivery, pushing the boundaries after localisation in such a way that might have been deemed standard in Japan, Electronic Theatre Imagebut is simply groan worthy as a driect translation into English. It’s a tough web to work your way through, especially with the frequenlty irritating voice acting, but fans of the Atelier Totori series will surely be expecting such a thick caramel coating.

In terms of appealing to the established audience, Atelier Totori: Alchemist of Arland has hit the nail right on the head. It’s a complex system wrapped up in the overactive, sickly sweet dressing that fans will already be enamoured with. However, these reasons for its likely success are the exact same reasons that Atelier Totori: Alchemist of Arland will have problems expanding upon that audience. Despite the solid role-playing game foundations and the intriguing synthesis system Atelier Totori: Alchemist of Arland is facing hefty competition that isn’t quite so saccharine, and so as a comparison its quirky presentation is only likely to distance it from newcomers.

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