Welcome to our review of Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream, the new chapter of the Gust franchise that has the hard task of succeeding two excellent titles: will Sophie be able to awaken the hearts of fans?
The appointment with the review of the periodic chapter of Atelier is back annually, this time with a particularity. After the excellent Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout and Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & The secret Fairy Game, we are back to talk about a sequel. In fact, Gust had never been known, before Ryza’s novelty, to be a company dedicated to sequels. Each chapter of the Atelier series, albeit intertwining with each other by combining characters, mechanics and more rarely settings, it had always been a world unto itselfwhich told a story of its own with unique protagonists.
After the success and praise received by the two chapters dedicated to the “buxom” Ryza, this time around is one of the girls protagonists of the most popular Gust series at the time of the Mystery Trilogy. We are talking about Sophie, who in recent days has appeared on PC, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch with Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of The Mysterious Dream, thus officially making the trilogy a tetralogy. Will it hold up against the two excellent previous iterations of the franchise? Let’s find out together in this review of (for friends) Atelier Sophie 2.
Back to Kirchen Bell…?
As we all know, at the end of his previous adventure Sophie and Plachta had decided to leave their hometown, Kirchen Bell, in search of better alchemical recipes in the “outside” world. If by any chance you are afraid of not remembering the events of the first chapter so well, the convenient “Story so Far” option, which can be selected from the main menu, will meet you. The two girls will barely manage to start the new amazing adventure, which will immediately find themselves in a mess worthy of the name.
Arriving in fact near a gigantic tree with a mysterious look, Plachta and Sophie find themselves sucked into the dreamlike world of Erde Wiege, losing sight of each other. We therefore find ourselves in the shoes of our protagonist who, left alone, immediately sets out in search of her partner in this vast world, ruled by the divinity Elvira, as mysterious as she is powerful, and which can only be accessed if invited by the aforementioned. A big mess, we said.
And one… | Atelier Sophie 2 review
On her path, of course, Sophie will find waiting for her a diverse and colorful cast of characters all delightfully and lovingly characterized, as often happens in the Ateliers. And even in this case, unlike what happened with the two Ryza chapters, it is the characters themselves who save a narrative that has taken a step back, returning to what were the origins and the old glories of the series.
In fact, if Ryza had accustomed us to more mature and meaningful themes, Atelier Sophie 2 returns to the simple and staid narrative typical of the franchise, which does not offer great food for thought or quality peaks, but remains on a solid foundation of comfort zone that accompanies the player through all the (numerous) hours it takes to complete the main plot. A shame? Yes, definitely yes, because Gust had reached another level of maturity and growth with Ryza. It is not necessarily something that should take you away from the product, however, because although simpler and less compelling, Sophie’s adventure is still enjoyable and fun.
Support Guard e Dual Actions | Review Atelier Sophie 2
To have taken a step back is also the combat system, which has abandoned the formula of Real Time Battle introduced with Ryza and has returned to turn-based battles where the player will have complete control of the party. In this case, however, we admit that the choice did not have particular negative effects, but remained so: a choice. Gust has, however, expanded the battle system, introducing some interesting mechanics that have rejuvenated the old style typical of the franchise.
The party is made up of three active members, quickly and easily interchangeable with the three seats in the rear, always ready to enter the scene to protect allies, via the Support Guard ability, or to join them in unleashing powerful combinations of attacks. Through the use of the PT, accumulated by carrying out any basic command in combat, it is possible to activate the Dual Actions, combined actions with which characters will be able to use two skills, at a cost of 0 MP, combining them to inflict greater damage on the enemy or, alternatively, to revive the fate of a companion in need. Both Support Guard and Dual Actions have been able to renew a combat system that otherwise would have been stale, also managing to considerably raise the importance of using “strategy”, especially in boss battles.
Not so bad | Review Atelier Sophie 2
Although, however, all this is more cumbersome and less fluid and rapid than the Atelier Ryza combat system, in Sophie 2 the transitions between exploration and combat phases have been removed, a feature that we hope any other future chapter of the franchise will bring with it. In this way, the exploration of the various open maps of Sophie 2 is as fluid and rapid as possible, also thanks to the simplification adopted in the collection of materials. If in Ryza, in fact, every instrument of the protagonist had to be enhanced to collect the resources of higher rarity, in this chapter some Skills have been introduced that serve this purpose.
By completing simple tasks, such as the discovery of particular points of interest scattered in the maps or the killing of certain enemies, all the protagonists will accumulate Skill Points, which can then be spent on the unlocking of specific skills ranging from passive enhancement of basic statistics to, in fact, the possibility for Sophie to collect materials in greater quantity or quality. Therefore, you will not need a hundred different sickles to collect plants of greater rarity and therefore you will not run into the risk of losing resources on the road. At least as long as you keep up with Skill Points.
To have convinced us very little, especially with the continuing hours of the game, is the mechanics of interchangeable weather which is unlocked from the earliest stages. In almost all Atelier Sophie 2 game maps it will be possible, once you have obtained the right materials and found the corresponding altars, to alter the current weather conditions and open new portions of the map that were previously inaccessible: for example, by making the level stop raining of the present water will go down and so on. Although it may seem interesting at first glance, the mechanics have perhaps been exploited too much and we found ourselves, in the final stages in particular, in real labyrinths in which obtaining a certain treasure chest was practically impossible, if not exchanging the weather in completely random way. The complexity of some maps and the inability to predetermine the changes of the same following the inversion of the weather made it all too frustratingleading us to the conclusion that perhaps that casket was not that important.
Oh no… | Atelier Sophie 2 review
The step backwards that we just cannot accept is the one made from the point of view of alchemical synthesis, which has always been the main pivot and focus of each chapter of Atelier. Abandoned the Ryza knot synthesis, widely appreciated by anyone for its simplicity and depth, we return to the genesis of the franchise: recipes, levels and grinding. A choice that, to be fair, we did not really understand: Ryza’s formula was precise, fun and addictive and led the player to explore the various nodes to find all the recipes and all the possible objects. Not here.
In fact, in Atelier Sophie 2 the cookbook is back, listing all the recipes learned and not by the protagonist with all the tedious steps necessary to unlock them. The need to be of a certain level in order to synthesize a certain object also returns, with the risk of having to spend some time in the alchemical cauldron synthesizing completely useless objects, just to be able to continue with the plot. Once the knots are gone, the synthesis of the objects takes place through a grid on which to place the various components, similar to the five elements (fire, ice, thunder, wind and light), and on the basis of which the quality and characteristics of the product will then be determined. the final.
A note: the alchemical synthesis of Sophie 2 is not so bad (if we exclude the walls due to the level of alchemy too low)Indeed, it also offers some interesting mechanics based on the level of friendship you will have with the co-stars. The problem arises when it is inevitable to compare the title with the two Ryza chapters, which laid the foundations for a revolution in the franchise, this time involved in too many aspects and, above all, reworked by adding the classic tediousness typical of the first Ateliers.
Sophie Chan! | Review Atelier Sophie 2
On a technical and artistic level, Atelier Sophie 2 does not differ much from the comfort zone of the franchise, remaining a low budget title and not particularly refined. Compared to Ryza 2 we have noticed a few more edges and, in general, perhaps less refinement in the details, especially in the sprites of the characters, which are all very inspired and definitely iconic. We did not detect technical problems of any kind, a rather obvious factor considering the weight of the title, but which we wanted to underline in the review.
Even the soundtrack is kept on the same levels as always of the franchise, with a fair number of tracks all different from each other and quite pleasant to listen to with headphones. Also in this case, the Italian localization is missing, but since the franchise is very niche, nothing else is to be expected. Fans of the brand will be pleased to know, however, that the Japanese dubbing seemed more inspired than usual. We strongly recommend that you play it in the original language.
In conclusion of this review, it is difficult to rate Atelier Sophie 2 as such. Let’s admit that, if Ryza’s two chapters hadn’t been there, probably many of her criticisms would have gone unnoticed and the rating you would have read below would have been higher. Despite everything, we would like to recommend the title to all those who appreciated the first chapter and the character of Sophie, who remains unquestionably one of the most lovable of the entire franchise. If you manage to put aside the annoyance for an alchemical synthesis not in step with the times, you will find yourself in front of a simple and functional narration and a very pleasant combat system, albeit anchored to the past. And then let’s face it … Sophie is always Sophie!
Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream è ora disponibile su PC, PS4 e Nintendo Switch….