Ayesha lives all alone in a frontier land full of ruins. She makes medicines to sell to travelers and nearby towns. But after a chance meeting with an alchemist and some glowing flowers, she receives a clue about her missing sister, who disappeared two years prior and was thought dead. Now Ayesha must travel the world, learning the ways of alchemy and gathering clues about how to bring her sister back in Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk for PS3, the latest in the popular Japanese RPG series.
This RPG has heavy emphasis on item management. Ayesha and her recruited friends can gather items in towns and in the wilderness. Back at the workshop, she can combine items using recipes to make new ones. Some items help you in battle, like healing herbs and potions. Others you can give to people in towns who need them, who will in turn give you rewards. When out in the wild, you will encounter monsters that you must fight in typical turn-based RPG battle fashion.
The game also places an emphasis on time management as well. Everything you do in the map takes days off the in-game calendar, from gathering items to synthesizing them, and even travelling on the world map takes time. While it’s not apparent at first, you’ll want to finish your quest within three years. Luckily in most towns there is a place you can use as a home base to mix ingredients, so you don’t have to go back to your original workshop every time. As with other Atelier games, there are probably multiple endings depending on how fast you finish.
Most of the problems I had with the game are just personal ones. I like to take my time in RPGs and in this one you have to be careful managing your time and items, so it was more of a chore for me. Goals can sometimes be a little unclear as well. The game starts off pretty slow, too, and they don’t explain things as clearly as they did in past Atelier titles. Luckily you don’t have to have played other games in the series to enjoy this one. While I think other Atelier games are better, if you enjoy the series you’ll probably like this one, too.
Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk is rated T for Teen with ESRB descriptors of Fantasy Violence, Suggestive Themes, and Use of Tobacco and Alcohol. In battle you hit cartoony monsters with weapons and magic, and they just disappear when defeated. Most of the suggestive themes and use of alcohol and tobacco are referred to in text only, although some of the female characters wear slightly revealing clothes. But in typical anime fashion, it’s all presented in a campy way. I would be OK with some pre-teens playing this, but because of the high level of reading skill required and complexity of the gameplay, it’s really best for older gamers anyway.