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Game Info:

Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea DX
Developed By: Gust/Koei Tecmo Games
Published By: Koei Tecmo Games
Release Date: January 14, 2020 (original PS3 released on July 17, 2014)
Available On: Windows, PS4, Switch (PS3 as Atelier Shallie, and PS Vita as Atelier Shallie Plus)
Genre: Role Playing Game
Number of Players: 1
ESRB Rating: T for Fantasy Violence; Partial Nudity
MSRP: $39.99 (or $89.99 for the trilogy)
(Humble Store Link)

Thank you Koei Tecmo for sending us this game to review!

A sand ship slowly crosses an endless expanse of desert as the narrator describes the desperate situation the region is in. There is a drought happening and most of the towns are beginning to suffer because of it. Shallistera Argo, the daughter of a village chief that is suffering from this lack of water, has set out to the town of Stellard to see if they might possibly have a solution to this problem. Meanwhile a young alchemist from Stellard, Shallotte Elminus who has dreams of becoming a famous alchemist and making a lot of money, heads to the Cooperative Union Headquarters only to find that the only job they have for her is cleaning up the trash on the streets of the town.

Stellard, also known as the City of Water, is a major city on the continent due to the fact that it has a never ending water source. The longer the drought continues, the more people come from surrounding settlements, making it the biggest city in the area. They come from all over in order to survive, but even now there have been signs that Stellard's water levels are beginning to slowly fall. Upon hearing this, Central has sent a group of Alchemists to help investigate the issue as this could become a more serious if left untreated.

The game starts off with Shallistera Argo (Stera), who is on a trip to Stellard to get their help with the water crises that is hitting her village Lugion. Stera is the daughter of the chief of Lugion and currently the only alchemist in her village, and the only one they can trust to help find a solution. Once her intro is completed, the game switches over to Shallotte Elminus (Lotte). Lotte is a young alchemist who lives at home with her mother; her father was an alchemist that died before the game began. Lotte's goal in life is to become a great alchemist and make a lot of money so that she can help her mother and live an easy life. She does odd jobs for the Cooperative Union in order to make money and hopefully get them to give her better jobs.

Once both introductions to the Shallie's are completed, the game requires you to choose which character you want to continue with; Stera or Lotte. The choice you make will change the beginning few chapter's story as both the Shallie's don't meet till a later chapter and each have their own path to follow. However both the Shallie's synthesize the same things, the only difference between them is the skills they get for synthesizing different properties on items. Also choosing one or the other does not affect how the game plays out, though they both get different endings with different characters. Both character's main base of operations is Stellard, where they both use the Cooperative Union to get different jobs from Central. And once the two finally meet, they begin working together for the betterment of Stellard and to figure out if there is a way to save the outlying villages from the Dusk.

Stellard is made up of a few different locations: Cooperative Union, Shallie's Atelier (Lotte starts off at her own house but then uses the one on Stera's ship), weapon and armor shop, and a few random shops that carry different items. You will spend most of your time, when you are not exploring or fighting, in Stellard. The Cooperative Union is where the Shallie's will get most of their missions, and it also allows them to complete requests for the town. The requests consist of monster exterminations, item gathering, or synthesizing. Outside of that, the Atelier is where the Shallie's make their items; either bombs, healing, or random alchemic items used for quests. The armor shop is run by a separate alchemist; it allows you to synthesize weapons and armor, but you have to provide the ingredients and there is a cost in gold for them as well. Different shops pop up in Stellard throughout the game and each has different items, but all of them will eventually have recipe books that can be learned to give the Shallie's new items to synthesize.

Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea DX
Highlights:

Strong Points: Great story; good music; good voice acting; fun experimentation
Weak Points: Keyboard/mouse controls; multiple play throughs to get all endings
Moral Warnings: Fantasy violence against mystical creatures; smoking; some crude language; partial nudity; a character is a witch

Any items that the Shallie's make must be equipped in order to use them. These items can be only equipped in Stellard and must be equipped to a grid through a menu item called Search Equipment. The grid starts out as a small square and gets bigger as the Shallie's perform different tasks. The items that are made for the grid each have different sizes and shapes, and to put them on is like performing a puzzle to arrange in order to get the best search equipment to fit inside the square grid. Both Shallie's use the same grid, so in order to use items specific for either Stera or Lotte, space must be taken away from the other. But that also means that both the Shallie's can use the same item so there is no need to make duplicate items for both characters.

When the Shallie's receive their missions, they are sent out into the field. The location of their current objective is shown on the map, and in order to get there, they must fight monsters and gather ingredients on their way through differing points. Battles are the only way to level the characters up, so it is recommended that you do not avoid them as there are some battles that cannot be skipped in order to move the story along. Battles are turn based and turn is based on positions found in a grid on the right side of the screen. Order is determined by speed and skills, and whomever is on the top goes next. A battle consists of 6 people, 3 up front and 3 in reserve. The order can be chosen before a battle starts from the Formations menu, and can only be changed once the battle is over. Reserve characters can be swapped to the front row in a few ways; either through option selection, follow up attacks or character defense. Once one of them is swapped, the new reserve character cannot be used in any optional attacks until a certain amount of turns occur. Most battles are not difficult, but some of the bosses will require some preparation.

As the story progresses, the Shallie's will get more friend's to join them in completing their tasks. As they continue on, their friendship level with the character that you chose for the main character grows. As that grows, they will offer different friendship events that will deepen their friendship even more. Certain characters depending on if you managed to see all their events will provide different endings. All events will take place in Stellard, though some of them require the Shallie's to go to a specific place on the map in order to complete the event. Other times, they will require specific items in order to complete them. You will not be able to get all the character endings without a second play-through using the other Shallie that was not chosen in the beginning. It is also recommended that you use a walk-through on how to get specific character endings.

Atelier Shallie takes place in the same world as Atelier Ayesha and Atelier Escha & Logy. Timeline-wise it takes place about a year after the end of Atelier Escha & Logy. While it is not necessary to have played the original games, it is highly recommended that they are played in order; the order being Ayesha, Escha & Logy, Shallie. All the original protaganists end up making appearances in the game, and a lot of what they talk about are things that happened in previous games. Combat is where I believe Atelier Shallie outshines both Ayesha and Escha & Logy as it felt more streamlined and polished than the previous titles. Synthesizing also has a bit more depth to it than both Atelier Ayesha and Atelier Escha & Logy.

The game itself is very fun and an enjoyable experience for anyone who has played any of the other Atelier games. If it is anyone's first attempt at an Atelier game, it is very new person friendly other than the tie ins to the previous two games. The tutorials for the games help a great deal other than a few to do with some more complex abilities of synthesizing, the combat is fun, and there is no time limit for completing any of the tasks. The game is definitely meant for those who enjoy exploring and optimizing items to make the best for any of the tasks required.

Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea DX
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 88%
Gameplay - 17/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 10/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 66%
Violence - 7/10
Language - 7/10
Sexual Content - 5/10
Occult/Supernatural - 5.5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8.5/10

 

The soundtrack as with the previous games is very good. The voice acting is great with a lot of returning characters from the previous titles. As for controls, I feel that it handled much better with a controller than with a mouse and keyboard. Resolutions didn't seem to affect anything to much; I tried in both full screen and windowed mode and both looked great to me. The game itself was a port from a hand-held game, so graphic-wise it is a bit dated, but that did not detract from the game at all.

Now on to Morality. While most of the female outfits are modestly dressed, certain female characters had a lot of skin showing. Lotte, one of the main protagonists, wore a short skirt like found in most anime, and often ended up sitting in compromising positions though no panty shots were ever seen. There are a few women that had low cut tops and a few that had exposed midriffs. There is also a scene with most of the women in bathing suits, and also one scene of frontal female nudity, though they covered up the parts that would have made the rating rise even more. There is definitely fantasy violence through the game, but it is only against fantasy monsters that do not look real. Main types of attacks are physical, and some characters use bombs.There is a witch in the game that uses magic both in and out of combat, and she deals with elemental spirits and can summon them. There is also talk of a goddess in the game. One of the characters smokes a pipe.

There are a few scenes with swearing, using the word d**n, but there was not much else in the way of swearing. There are a few scenes with Lotte's childhood friend that is obsessed with automatons, which he constantly asks her to find. Some of those scenes his obsessions are worded rather suggestively, and during one of those scenes he is going on about how he basically can't live without them and the main character asks him if he is doing anything naughty to those automatons.

Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea DX is a great game, with a lot of exciting elements throughout. I felt a bit disappointed in the character development of the Shallie's as it seemed that they were focusing more on the story than the characters. However, the main over-arching storyline is great, it's very well fleshed out and even ties parts of the previous titles in the Dusk trilogy. The game itself isn't too long, I beat it in a little over 40 hours.

As always, consider any appropriateness issues before making a choice as to play this game or not, but if the things mentioned do not bother you, then I think this would definitely be a good choice for any RPG fan who isn't looking for the normal trope of trying to save the entire world.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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