Atelier Ryza Switch Review: Crafting up a Good Time

Re-synthesizing alchemy

Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout is a beautiful JRPG, it’s a reboot of everything Atelier, character designs, story, everything, meaning Ryza is the perfect entry point into the world of Atelier games and not just one for existing fans. Okay yes it pretty much looks the same, has a similar story and revolves around combining stuff to make other stuff, but the devil is in the details and Ryza is an evolution, improving on existing Atelier games in every way.

That’s a damn fine hideout.

Like the rest of the series Ryza is more a slice of life than an epic quest, it’s all about character interactions and mostly their growth as people and a community. You play as Ryza, a country bumpkin living in a remote island community who longs to do something great. With her friends she sets out on their first ever adventure despite one friend, Lent having a huge sword and muscles. They get into a spot of bother and are saved by those most virtuous of all people; alchemists, encouraging each friend to achieve their own goal.

That’s one huge first sword.

The story is cute, it’s very small scale concentrating on the characters own struggles to achieve their individual goals but in their world, these are the most important things and to them the quest is rather epic. You won’t save the world but you will change Ryza’s world forever, plus there’s still plenty of giant monsters and epic battles in store.

That giant spine is about to become goo.

There are a billion short skits where you learn more about the characters whether they play a large role in the story or not and see the community as a whole develop. No you’re not going to save the world but you are going to help someone who’s always looking for odd jobs become an apprentice. I found because of the overall theme of the game the side quests were far more enjoyable than other games because I really felt I made a difference. Something that divides a lot of Atelier fans is the issue of time limits to complete tasks. In Ryza there’s no time limit to the point I went home and went to bed in the middle of a race.

Bestest by a bush I can’t jump over.

Atelier games might be all about alchemy and making items but I think the battling steals the show here. It’s an active time battle system where characters can attack every few seconds, you only control one character at a time and the other party members can be set to normal attacks only or allow them to use skills but you can switch character at the drop of a penny. Normal attacks replenish AP that’s shared amongst the party and used for skills. You can save your AP to upgrade your tactics level which in turn vastly improved your attacks. Every now and again the opportunity for a powerful ‘action order’ attack comes up with you having to complete an action such as dealing magic damage, you can use 10AP to instantly make it your turn and this time if you complete the task it gives you during this turn you get your buddies to do a super powerful attack. You can equip both healing and attacking items that can be used a certain amount of times each outing and enemies have various strengths and weaknesses. This all translates to an extremely satisfying battle system as you switch through your party to use skills and making crucial decisions at breakneck speeds. Or you can just control one character and while the fights are still fairly fast paced they are far more leisurely.

Action orders are an easy way for big damage.

If there’s one thing Atelier games are famous for it’s the alchemy. Here like previous games you gather materials with various tools to make new materials, items and equipment. Unless you love Minecraft style crafting it sounds like it could be a bit tedious. Well actually it’s blooming addictive. All materials have quality, elements, traits and effects and when making new items you have a recipe web and only a certain amount of items are allowed to be added into this web to give quality, effects and traits to the new item. You can even use unwanted items and materials to help you improve equipment and items. If alchemy doesn’t sound like your thing, you can select an item to make and then auto add ingredients.

Alchemy’s never been so addictive.

Along your travels you’ll find plenty of monsters and materials as well as have a lot of quests. Most of the quests consist of making an item of at least a certain quality. There’s plenty to explore and even just venturing around your small island village will take a good while, luckily you can fast travel making getting about a snap.

Sadly there’s no fishing mini game.

I have and always will love Gust’s graphical style in the Atelier games and Ryza looks better than ever, it really is an anime style brought to life, although the faces do occasionally look a little flat. The battle scenes are made even more thrilling by a low to the ground view and screen shake however you’ll be fighting the same few enemies and there palette swaps over and over.

No random encounters here, you just smack monsters with an axe.

The long debate between Japanese and English dub will rise up once again as Atelier Ryza only has Japanese audio, gone are the days when you could pick to hear the wonderful characters in the Atelier games in English. The soundtrack fits the atmosphere perfectly, being relaxing and uplifting.

Did you know you can both float and kill monsters by playing the flute?

Atelier Ryza is a charming, complex, top notch modern JRPG with some adorable characters. The story is a far more light hearted affair than many other JRPGs but you’d be a fool to let that dissuade you from Atelier Ryza as the alchemy is in depth and the battling is extraordinarily fast paced and exciting.

The map is handy for quick travel and checking where to go for quests.

A huge thank you to Koei Tecmo for supplying the review copy. Atelier Ryza is available now both physically and digitally on the eShop for £49.99/€59.99/$59.99.

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