Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea Review

Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea Review

Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea is the latest in a long-running JRPG series from developer Gust. While the franchise is not very well known outside of Japan, its vibrant, distinct art style, addictive gameplay and vast world ripe for exploration make this a title fans of the genre should definitely check out.

Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea is the sixteenth title in the series (which originally debuted on PlayStation in 1997), and the third in the Dusk series. The gameplay revolves around crafting items through the use of alchemy to aid the protagonists in their quests. The story involves two young girls: Shallotte Elminus, a chipper citizen of the town of Stellard who dreams of fame and fortune while working to become an alchemist, and Shallistera, who visits the town in hopes of finding aid for her village, which is experiencing a very worrisome drought. One interesting aspect of Atelier Shallie is that both characters are playable, offering differing paths to the storyline depending on your choice. This gives the game a respectable amount of replay value, as it’s worth one more go-round with the opposite Shallie to get the full story.

Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea is a visual treat, offering up pastel-colored environments and cel-shaded character models that combine to form a very unique (and impressive) art style that looks like concept art come to life. The game looks gorgeous, and the vibrant colors and watercolor painted textures make for a visually striking and memorable experience. Props to the art crew on this title, as they’ve pulled off some amazing work with what I would imagine is a rather meager budget.  And for the first time in the series, the player can control the camera, allowing for an up-close and personal look at the fine details of this beautiful world.

The world of Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea is enormous and just begging to be explored. Which is something that you’ll need to do if you hope to find all the ingredients and recipes you’ll need to progress in the story and level your characters. While there is a good amount of turn-based, traditional JRPG combat here, the majority of Atelier Shallie revolves around the rather complicated alchemy system, which only gets more complex as the game progresses, and exploration/ quests. And if you’re ever stuck on what needs to be done next, the game has a handy checklist in the form of the Life Task system, which can be accessed by pressing Select. Here there is a breakdown of tasks with progress meters for exploration, combat, and alchemy, which will need to be met before progressing to the next chapter is allowed.

The soundtrack for Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea is one of its highlights. Sweeping orchestral numbers punctuate the gameplay and cutscenes, and beautiful melodic pieces set the tone of the friendly towns. Many of the tunes are catchy and memorable (I had a few of them stuck in my head after hours of gameplay), and there is a huge variety of them to keep the player from getting bored. There’s even a jukebox feature that can be accessed at your home base, right by the save point.

JRPG fans will surely find a lot to love about Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea, but be warned that the alchemy crafting gameplay can get quite complex and isn’t for everyone. However, between the unique gameplay, beautiful score and striking visual style, Atelier Shallie is one of the most memorable JRPGs I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. The engaging gameplay and relaxing, gorgeous atmosphere of Atelier Shallie has managed to pull me away from my PlayStation 4 for a bit and realize that the good ol’ PS3 still has some life left in it yet.

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