Atelier Firis: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Journey is a Japanese role-playing game, currently in development by Gust and published by Koei Tecmo. The game involves the player character, Firis, and her journey throughout the land, attempting to pass her Alchemy exam.
Publisher: Koie Tecmo
Avg Game Length: Varying, dependant on how the player leverages the timed story mechanic
Firis’ Talents Are Set To Impress Any Dwarf
The game opens with Firis living in a town, hidden deep inside a mountain. Firis, has never ventured outside (imagine a prettied-up Moria from Lord of the Rings and you’ve got it). In the first scene of the game, the player learns that Firis has a gift. What is this gift, you ask? Firis is a natural at discovering ore. Couple this ability with a mining town in which ore is notoriously difficult to come across, and you have a match made in heaven.
Naturally, the village elder and the mountain community try their hardest to contain Firis’s urge to see the outside world. However, Firis is an un-tameable soul (as her name may suggest), and her sister Liane isn’t helping the case. Liane is a hunter for the village, and as such ventures outside regularly. Each and every venture leaves Firis desperate to learn more about the outside world.
Let The Questing Begin
In the interest of not giving away any more of the story, Firis eventually finds her way outside of the village. After learning she has a natural knack for Alchemy, so begins her ‘Mysterious Journey’. One thing leads to another in the mountain town, and Firis has a job to do – pass her alchemy exam. There are obstacles in the way before she can achieve this – she has to find a number of senior alchemists, and gain recommendations from them so she can take the exam. Without reputable recommendations, Firis’s efforts will have been in vain.
Atelier Firis’ Open World Will Feel Nostalgic
The game is set in an open world, very similarly laid out to games such as The Legend of Zelda, or the Dragon Age series. There is not too much to say about the graphics of Atelier Firis. It is by no means an ugly game, although the graphics aren’t likely to knock players off their feet.
Similar to those set out by Nintendo in Skyward Sword, the layout of Atelier Firis’ world also harkens back to The Legend of Zelda. There is certainly nothing wrong with that – TLoZ is a staple in the gaming world. Being similarly designed to a series as iconic as that is not to be sniffed at. It is a pretty game while not groundbreaking, but that’s okay.
Fluid Play And Simple UI Carry Firis Through Her Adventure
The gameplay of Atelier Firis is fluid and easy to manoeuvre. Specifically – the entirety of the world is open to the player. Without becoming overwhelming, there are clear options for the player to decide which way to go and in what order. When the player initially enters the world with Firis, the path to the first major settlement is laid out very simply. Follow the long path laid out in front of you, and eventually you will find where you need to be.
Along the way, there are number of side quests and attractions for the player to complete, and there is plenty of reason to backtrack to areas the player has already visited at a higher level. Although there is one particular moment that has stuck in my mind…
Within a few minutes of being exposed to the luscious blue sky, there was a particularly high-levelled beast slightly off the path Firis was meant to follow. Upon engaging the beast in combat, it quickly dawned upon me that there was no hope at all of besting this magnificent creature. The ensuing moments were spent healing my party, and spamming the run button until we got away by the skins of our teeth. Safe to say that mistake was never made again! Atelier Firis insists that you take your time and plan things out properly.
With regards to combat, it is fairly simplistic to pick up, but in time becomes a lot more complex. Throughout the journey, Firis and Liane will encounter a wide array of characters who can join the party, each with their own advantages and drawbacks. This adds a tactical slant should the player choose.
Atelier Firis’ Adventure Is Fleshed Out With Decent RPG Systems
The objectives of combat are straightforward – defeat your opponent(s) and prioritise keeping Firis at as high a health gauge as possible. Should Firis’ health drop to 0, the battle will come to an end for the rest of the party and the player! There are a number of ways your party can keep Firis fit and fighting until the end. Liane has the ability to jump in front of Firis at times, absorbing the damage for herself. This is preferable to allowing her more fragile and younger sister take a large hit. At first, Liane is a much higher level than Firis, which makes sense considering she has been hunting for years, supposedly.
However, Firis catches up surprisingly quickly to her big sister. She soon blooms into a gorgeous RPG fuelled flower, more than capable of defending herself. Imagine Ash Ketchum’s Charmander from the original series of Pokemon. At first, Charmander is cowering in the rain under a leaf, struggling to survive. And then in the near future, that Charmander is a large, towering dragon absolutely dominating opponents with its’ team. That is Firis in a nutshell. The difficulty spike in the game is large, but manageable with adequate planning and preparation.
Gust Plays With An Interesting Mechanic. Does It Work?
However, not all of the gameplay is perfect. A complaint many gamers have is time limits found in games are highly irritating. This may put them off a game if there are a large number of timed sections within said game. What must absolutely be kept in mind whilst playing Atelier Firis, is that the entire game has a time limit. Upon walking out of the cave, a timer appears in the upper left corner of the screen.
Firis has one year to complete her journey, otherwise she must return back to the village, a failure. Every action Firis makes in game, takes up a set amount of time. This being the same amount of time for each action. This is one area in which the game could be improved. Picking fruit from a tree takes the same amount of time as mining a rock, or defeating a monster. Which doesn’t seem too bad, until you realise that each action takes up two hours.
This could dent the experience for many players who enjoy grinding and exploring to the maximum. It may also weigh heavy on players’ minds whilst exploring, that every action made is potentially detrimental to the final outcome of the game.
You Can Only Eat Your Favourite Food So Many Times Before It Gets Boring
Atelier Firis would not be the same game without the excellent music contained within, setting up the atmosphere for each environment. Atelier’s music is excellent, with a wide array of melodies adding to the wonder of its game world. However, it is not perfect at times. Initially starting the game in the mountain village, the soundtrack didn’t give me much hope for the rest of the game. At times, I was forced to mute the game! I had to play my own music to give my ears a break from melody playing in that area, on repeat.
Yet, finally escaping this town felt even better than it would have otherwise. This is purely down to the change in soundtrack. This may sound melodramatic, yet this was the case for me as a player.
The voice acting is average, and that needs to be clarified. When performed properly, it works. The characters all have rather high-pitched voices, but that is acceptable considering the genre and target audience for the game.In fact this added to the experience as it made the characters all the more believable . After all, Firis is a 15-year-old girl. A high-pitched voice is to be expected. However, there are more than a few moments with no voice acting at all for conversations between characters who definitely have assigned voice actors. The player will have already heard them before. Hopefully this will be addressed in the future, since it tends to detract from the experience ever so slightly.
For A Light Hearted, Colourful JRPG Experience, Atelier Firis Is The Place To Be
Atelier Firis: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Journey is a well-developed game. Gameplay is fluid, with difficulty increasing throughout the game, as the best games do. Combat is easy to pick up, offering more and more depth as characters are unlocked and level up, with enemies becoming more and more challenging throughout the story. Higher-levelled enemies are available from the start of the game, although it is highly recommended to not take them on at the first available opportunity. Generally, the music is excellent, but has moments where it will make the players’ ears sore from over-exposure in the beginning of the game. Voice acting does a good job adding to the immersion of the game, albeit lacking in some areas. On the whole, Atelier Firis is a worthy successor to Atelier Sophie, and we here at ATPS4 recommend you pick it up for a new JRPG flavour!