The story, while lacking, is entertaining. Basically you are Rorolina a student under her master Astrid, they run an alchemy workshop that doesn’t do a whole lot. One day the knight Sterkenburg comes to inform you that the workshop is going to be closed down unless you can perform assignments given by the king. Astrid, the owner of the shop, hands the workshop down to Rorolina in order to avoid work and from there your daily life starts. Yeah it may not be action packed or anything, but the dialogue and characters keep this story moving and entertaining. I hate to use this term but it’s basically a Slice-of-Life game about a girl and her workshop.
The graphics of Atelier Rorona are pretty decent. They aren’t amazing but they fit this game very well. One funny fact is that the characters look loli~ish while their portraits that are viewed while talking look older. Getting back on track, the colors are nice and lush and everything is pretty smoothly done. Sometimes you will notice weird “glitches” on the characters but it doesn’t happen often. I also notices the frames per second drop occasionally but for the most part it is pretty smooth. The game utilized the whole 2D/3D cellshade style of graphics, which are a personal favorite of mine. Certain lines can look slightly jagged at times but overall it is very nice looking.
I should mention if you play this game in 480i using the Composite cables that come with the PS3, this game looks like a PS2 game. Extremely jagged edges and low detail. I’ve played other games in 480 to hook up to my capture card, but they usually don’t look this bad. Just a heads up, that’s why there are no images featured in this review.
The gameplay is rather different than what most are probably used to. In Atelier Rorona you must synthesize items, gather ingredients, level characters, and explore dungeons. Wait a minute, that sounds like pretty much any run of the mill game, well not quite. All these things must be done while trying to manage your time. You see, for each task you are given to complete there is a deadline and pretty much everything you do consumes time. For instance, when you synthesize an item it can take anywhere from 1-XX amount of days to complete, and when you explore a dungeon it also takes up days. Pretty much anything except shopping takes up time.
The main objective of this game is complete your tasks, it’s pretty much
Get Assignment>Gather>Synthesize>Turn in Assignment. It may sound repetitive on paper, but when you are actually playing it does not feel like that at all. Although the game is pretty straightforward it can be pretty challenging at times, some people may be scared away from this title or become frustrated with it due to the time managing. At times the game will also dump the mission on your lap and you could spend the whole time trying to figure out where to get the recipe for an item, that can be frustrating for people new to this style of game.
In the beginning the game will be both hard and easy at the same time. For newcomers to Gust games, it may feel difficult trying to figure out what the hell it is you need to do to get ingredients and synthesize the items. That is where the hard part is, luckily for us the first assignments are pretty easy to get a full 10 star grade. As the game progresses though you will find it much more hard to get the full 10 star, or you will find out that in order to gather a certain ingredient to turn in you need to be a higher level than you currently are. Be sure to balance both your adventure level and alchemy level.
Battling is pretty much the usual for gust games. The battle system is turned based but there are some things that spice it up. Once a character attacks enough he or she will be able to either link an attack with Rorona or defend her if she is about to be attacked. Another thing that is slightly different from the norm (but nothing new) is the fact that Special Attacks drain HP instead of MP.
You’re allowed to have 3 members in your party at once. You have to pay to hire members to join you, be wary as each you go explore somewhere you will have to pay them so you can suck up your precious money that way. Also, in order to hire members you have to actually go to where they are located in town and talk to them. This felt a bit annoying I would have rather you be able to hire from a billboard or something like that. Don’t get me wrong it’s not a flaw or something that will be a deal breaker it was just something that bothered me personally.
You have two different types of levels for Rorona, the first being Adventure Level which is leveled up by defeating monsters found in dongeouns and the second being your Alchemy Level which is leveled up by synthesizing various items. This is where some things get tricky, I mean you want your adventure level to grow so you can go gather ingredients, yet you want your alchemy level to grow so you can succesfully synthesize items. These both will eat up time leveling up so try to find a nice balance. I personally found it much easier to level your Alchemy Level.
One thing you’ll be doing a decent amount of is gathering ingredients for synthesis. When you enter a dungeon you will see certain things marked with a star icon above them, these are ingredient gathering places. They will have a random number of items you can grab from them as well as varied quality. Sometimes it will be tough to decide what to keep and what not to, you see, you store items in a basket and your basket will only hold up to 60 items. So sometimes you may be forced to give up ingredients.
You can also have Hom gather ingredients for you so you can go do your own thing while she goes and gathers as well. This is nice for when you need extra items or are running low on time and need to increase the rate of finding stuff. One thing that kind of bugged me is that there are alot of times when the jump button would delay so when you are trying to jump over an enemy sometimes you would just run right into them.
Exploring dungeons is pretty straightforward. You select the dungeon you want to go to and explore (for a lack of better words). Each dungeon is made up of different sections and each section requires a certain amount of days to go there. For example some places take 3 days while others take 1 day. So even when exploring you must be wary of your time, sure you can spend all your time exploring and leveling up but what are you going to do about your assignment, dont forget that also takes up time.
Synthesizing is pretty easy, you select which recipe you wish to make up and you select your ingredients and presto it will be made, however, when you are trying to get certain traits, effects, or quality into the item you are making it can get somewhat challenging. The different ingredients you use to synthesize an item will effect what kind of traits or quality you get out of the item. We’ll use cloth as an example. If you use low level ingredients the outcome will be a low level piece of cloth and vise versa. Some ingredients will introduce a trait into the cloth so if you synthesize using X ingredient you may end up with a piece of cloth that includes Muffcott or Nylonfeather. Some side jobs you take will require you to have certain traits or certain qualities. Another thing to keep in mind each thing you make will take a different amount of days to complete and the bigger bulk you make of said item, the more time it will consume.
I should also mention that the success rate will vary depending on your Alchemy level so keep that in mind unless you want to end up with scraps. Hom can also synthesize for you if you give her ingredients, this is useful for when you are low on time and need to double up on stuff you are doing or if you wish to go gather stuff but need to synthesize at the same time.
Other than just doing your main objectives, you will be given opprotunities to do various jobs for people. There are two different types of these jobs. The first type is for money, and the second is to build frendship levels. When you build friendship levels the cost of hiring a character goes down or the price to buy an item at a shop will go down.
The town map and world map are pretty simple, just use the dpad to select where you want to go and hit X to confirm. No world map exploration just the simple (but effective) point to point destinations. You can however explore the town areas, but it’s kind of pointless unless you are hiring a character since it is mostly dead space with random NPC’s around.
The music is absolutely great in this game, its the usual style of music that you’ve come to know in gust games. It’s very light music that just gives you the feeling that this game is meant to be a lighthearted and relaxing game. You don’t need music on an epic level that you would find in Tales of Vesperia to play Rorona.
Voices are available in both English and Japanese and are switchable at any time. I tried both out, English for the 1st Assignment and Japanese for the 2nd. They are both decent audio tracks, but I ended up sticking with the Japanese. In the English track some of the way things are said and some of the little jokes are completely lost. Rorona trying to pronounce Sterkenburg in the Japanese version is funny because of how its pronounced in Japanese, but in the English version it’s just completely lost. The game itself is fully voiced in Japanese, I can’t comment if the whole thing ended voiced in English because I haven’t played it as much in English, but during the entire 1st assignment it was so that may be a good indicator that it is. Rorona can get a bit high pitch and loud at times and that may deter people from playing the original track, but it all adds to comedy of dialogue.
There are a few things I can nitpick like the character hiring and such, but most things are just me being lazy and personal preference. One thing that somewhat bothered me that there is no option to go back to the main menu once you have loaded a save, I also didn’t like the fact that you can’t load a save unless you are in your workshop. This makes it a pain if you screwed up timewise and don’t want to have to leave the dungeon to reload. Some trophies look a bit hard to get, but I guess thats what will keep you going through the multiple playthroughs.
8/10 if you are a fan of Gust’s games then you should pick this up. As the first of their games to land on the PS3, it is a good step in the right direction. It may be a simple game but it works on many levels. Time management adds a level of challenge and keeps the game entertaining. Good character interactions and dialogue will keep you playing this game.
Please comment. Tell me whether you like this game, want to get it, or just tell where I can improve my reviews.