Game Info:

Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream
Developed By: Gust/Koei Tecmo Games
Published By: Koei Tecmo Games
Release Date: February 24, 2022
Available On: Windows, PS4, PS5, Switch, Steam Deck Playable
Genre: Role Playing Game
Number of Players: 1
ESRB Rating: Teen for Fantasy Violence, Suggestive Themes, Alcohol Reference
MSRP: $59.99
(Humble Store Link)

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

Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream continues a pattern that Gust/Koei Tecmo started with Atelier Lulua and then Ryza 2. This pattern is to break their previous convention and 1) make more than three games in a series and 2) make direct sequels with the same protagonist. Atelier Sophie 2 breaks both of those unwritten rules at the same time, and I'm glad it did. It's really charming, and easily one of the best Atelier games I've played to date.

Atelier Sophie 2 takes place after the completion of Sophie's first adventure, Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book. In that game, Sophie discovers her grandma left her a talking book, and discovers it has a name - Plachta. Plachta was an alchemist of another time, and somehow her soul was in that book. While Sophie was unable to make a new human body for Plachta, she was able to transfer her soul out of the book and into a doll. This doll gives Plachta the ability to live independently, and move around freely. After their adventures in Sophie's hometown of Kirchen Bell are complete (as documented in Mysterious Book), Sophie and Plachta depart looking for more adventure. Sophie's primary goal is becoming a licensed alchemist, just like her grandmother who died when she was young. Sophie really looked up to her grandma, and credits her, along with Plachta's help, of becoming the woman and alchemist she is today. She also hopes to give Plachta a human body again someday.

While on their way to the mining town of Ertona where Atelier Firis eventually takes place, they find a massive, beautiful tree. After getting a closer look at it, a strange portal opens up, and Sophie and Plachta are sucked inside and separated. Sophie wakes up in a strange new world with people she's never seen before. Once she remembers what happened and realizes that she is separated from her close friend Plachta, she understandably freaks out. Thus begins her unexpected adventure in Erde Wiege, a strange world where dreams come true.

Like most recent Atelier games, this game is fully 3D rendered, with lots of bright colors and vibrant music to encourage a feel-good mood. These games ooze positivity, and most characters espouse an encouraging, can-do attitude. Sophie is particularly optimistic, as she believes most of the problems she faces can be resolved via alchemy, and she often finds ways to do just that. Once she realizes that she needs to open a portal to a new dimension (for example), she quickly forms a plan and executes it with the help of her new friends.

As it turns out, this special place, Erde Wiege, is a world outside of time where people are gathered to fulfill their dreams. It's quite literally a dream world, and it violates many of the laws the real world is bound by. For example, people don't age there, and time that has passed in Erge Wiege has not passed at all in the real world. Also, those inside come from all different times and places, allowing for some really interesting and unexpected meetings.

For example, it is quickly revealed that several people close to Sophie in her life happen to be in Erde Wiege - but they are from different times. For example, you meet Pirka, a distant relative of Corneria, who also possesses the ability to duplicate items. (Corneria is a character from other Mysterious games.) However, the biggest surprises are that you meet a much younger person also named Plachta, and also a woman in her early 20s that suspiciously has the same name as Sophie's late grandmother!


Strong Points: Perhaps the best Atelier game yet; surprisingly good game to start with, despite being a sequel; lovable characters; seeing younger versions of certain characters is great; looks really good for an Atelier game; music and sound (and Japanese voice acting) are excellent as always; great pacing; one of my favorite Atelier crafting systems; nice story; excellent turn-based battle system; works well on Linux via Steam Proton Experimental; Steam Deck Playable
Weak Points: Being a sequel, it might keep some from playing this excellent game; weather changing puzzles can be a bit tedious
Moral Warnings: Fantasy violence; a goddess plays a central role in the plot; alchemy is present (as expected of Atelier games) where you craft new things in a cauldron with various materials; some female outfits are incredibly impractical with a massive amount of cleavage, and exposed skin from all over (but no nudity); breasts can sometimes be seen jiggling, and the camera pans over alluring parts of the body; minor sexual humor, and some statements that could be interpreted as being sexual/lesbian (but I don't think they are); a patron at a bar speaks about his love for alcohol; minor curse words like 'd*mn' and 'h*ll'

Sophie's charming and upbeat personality finds her making friends quickly, and she joins forces with Alette, a local merchant and adventurer, the younger Plachta, bodyguards named Olias and Diebold, and eventually Ramizel, her suspected (eventually confirmed) grandmother. This rounds out the party to six. Sophie, Plachta, and Ramizel are all alchemists, but Ramizel isn't currently training, so Sophie and Plachta are the most skilled alchemists in Erde Wiege, and often work together to solve the issues that arise.

Like most Atelier games, there is a pretty even split between adventuring and crafting via alchemy. Having played the most recent title (chronologically) in the Mysterious series, Atelier Lydie & Suelle, what I can say is that this game has the best crafting and battle system of the ones I can remember.

The crafting system is fairly simple yet quite nice in my opinion, though it really opens up once catalysts are introduced. Each recipe is made up of ingredients. There are usually four, but sometimes more (I can't think of cases with fewer). Each ingredient has one to four 3x3 grid patterns that it can populate, and they are one of the five elements: fire, ice, wind, lightning, or light. Early on, you have a 5x5 grid where you place these components. As you fill up the grid, your recipe traits for each element gets stronger. There are regular and link components; the link ones can match up with other links of the same color to grant bonuses or unlock gray spaces, which block additional effects. Piecing together all of these components is a type of puzzle, and is actually kind of fun once you get used to it. Doing a better job matching and arranging them leads to better crafting outcomes.

Once catalysts come into play, things get even better. Once you find your first one, be sure to craft a better one immediately. You can increase the size of the grid to up to 7x7, and also add some useful traits. I found myself using the Growlia catalyst for most of the game, but near the end I used the Absopta catalyst the most. These also unlock additional levels for effects for most items, making them more powerful than was previously possible. For example, the simple Bomb can only max out at Fire Damage M before the catalysts become available, but can reach Fire Damage L afterwards.

All items have both effects and traits. Almost all ingredients when you get them have traits listed in their description box. Some apply to armor or accessories, some apply to weapons, and some apply to healing or offensive items, and others to crafting new materials (that are then used to craft something else). The system is deep and complex, but to summarize, effects are what I mentioned before where you raise a component meter up while crafting, and traits are added to the final item based on traits that the ingredients have on them. For example, you can add or remove uses, increase the quality level of the final items, increase destructive or healing power, and much, more. There are hundreds of possible traits, and some even combine together to make more powerful ones. Each item can have a maximum of three traits added to it, so choose carefully!

In order to get all of the many ingredients required to craft to your heart's content, you need to go gathering. Since both gathering and adventuring take place in the many fields, caves, and so on scattered about Erde Wiege, I rarely found myself going out to just gather. Monsters also drop ingredients, so while you can skip many battles (and the game seems to be prepared for you to skip many fights), you should make sure to get a sampling of each enemy whenever you go to a new place to make sure to fill out the monsters list, as it makes this much easier later. It also helps keep your experience levels up, because you do need to fight, though for much of the late game what matters most is how powerful your crafted equipment is, as I hit max level long before the final area.

Thankfully, battles are turn-based and fun to play. There was a concern among Atelier fans that Atelier Ryza's real-time battle system would mean no more turn-based combat, but thankfully that's not the case. I also love the row system used here. Each character in the front row starts the battle, and they can attack, use skills, items, or try to run. Unlike some Atelier games, all characters can use items, though some are limited on how powerful they can be. What's interesting is that there are two meters you can charge up: TP and DG.

TP is Technical Points, which are used for Twin Actions and Support Guard. Support Guard means swapping out the character being attacked for someone in the back row; this not only switches them out, but drastically boosts their defense. Twin Actions are also great, because while it does switch who is in the front row, it also executes skills from both characters at a discount. You can also use items in a Twin Action. It's a fast and fun mechanic that the game encourages heavy use of through plentiful TP. I love that you don't have to choose between back row and front row skills before battle, but can switch freely. I found the old mechanic in Atelier Lydie & Suelle frustrating because you couldn't take advantage of a character's full power easily. Here, you switch constantly and it really feels like you have a full party of six. It's so much fun.

DG, or Dual Gauge, is the other meter. Once it is charged to 100% or more, you can execute a powerful Dual Trigger attack. Each pair of characters has one, and they are extremely powerful and can turn the tide quickly. That meter takes much more effort to charge, so Dual Trigger attacks are used much less frequently.

If you keep up on your crafting and use advantageous traits and effects smartly, you can make some truly powerful weapons and items. Through smart crafting, I made armor and weapons that carried me through half of the game or more, and even when I upgraded, the new weapons were only a bit more powerful. Sometimes smart applications of damage and stat boosts can go a long way, rewarding you in battle quite well.

I found the balance between crafting and combat/exploration to be remarkably well balanced. In some Atelier games, I eventually found crafting to be a slog and avoided it, or I hit such a bad difficulty wall that I knew I had to do it, but it just wasn't any fun. Somehow, with Sophie 2, they balanced the crafting and gameplay aspects so well that I never really got bored of either, but instead enjoyed both on their own merits. I don't know how they did it, but they got the balancing spot on.

Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 92%
Gameplay - 18/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 10/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 80%
Violence - 7/10
Language - 9/10
Sexual Content - 6/10
Occult/Supernatural - 8/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Like many Atelier games, there is a ton to see, people included. Sadly, only a small percentage of the citizens of the town can actually be interacted with. It's better than some of the games, but not as good as other series' I've enjoyed. Nevertheless, it's not all bad; at least you don't feel like you're wasting a ton of time talking to NPCs if you don't want to. Fast travel is always available, and you rarely lose much progress as long as you are smart on when you leave. In a level there are checkpoints that you can teleport to once activated, and you can fast travel to any entrance you've entered as well. There is a ton to do in this game; according to my Steam playtime, I've played this Atelier game the second-most of all games I've played in the series, with only Lydie & Suelle being more, though that game felt tedious at times in comparison, where with this one, the time flew by.

One aspect to exploring I haven't talked about much is the weather control system. In each area, there are Dreamspace Stones where you can use weather controlling items. This mechanic is honestly really neat, but some puzzles can certainly get tedious as in order to explore the area fully, you may need to switch between sun, rain, snow, and lightning to get everywhere. Since switching the weather expends uses on an item, this can become tedious as you have to go home and make more uses every so often.

Like other games, there is also a quest board. Here, you fulfill requests for citizens. These typically include things like making or finding a certain item for delivery, or defeating certain monsters. While quests are generally optional, if you complete them the game gently guides you in fighting certain enemies and unlocking recipes you might not have otherwise, making the game easier in the long run.

Morally, Atelier Sophie 2 is cleaner than most Atelier games, but far from perfect. Of course there is violence, though relatively minor; you hit fantastical enemies with your weapons, skills, or items by giving orders and watching them happen. Many of the effects are magical in nature, and alchemy takes place in a cauldron where the alchemist is seen mixing ingredients together in it. Alcohol use is mentioned by NPCs, where at the bar he mentions his love for it. Minor curse words are used, with words like 'd*mn' and 'h*ll' present.

Unfortunately but as expected, female characters wear clothes that often exposes significant skin. A few show lots of cleavage, while others show skin all over the body. Others wear tight outfits. If you beat the game, you can unlock swimsuits. There is a hot springs scene, but it could have been a lot worse than it was. On some occasions breasts can move/jiggle, but it's not that noticeable. The camera does pan over bodies from bottom to top at times, making sure the player doesn't miss anything. Some statements made in the game could be interpreted as being sexual in nature amongst members of the same sex, but I don't think that's the case, as love from deep friendships doesn't have to be sexual in nature.

The PC version is pretty solid, with a lot of graphics options and decent performance. It did crash once on me that I recall, but it autosaves quite often and I lost almost no progress. It even runs great on Steam Deck, though I had to use Proton Experimental for much of my time with the game if I wanted to hear music with videos. I also got to see Valve fix a Proton bug after a while, which was neat. It's listed as Playable, since you do have to tweak the settings for best performance on a Deck. On my Linux desktop, it runs almost flawlessly.

Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream surprised me with how much I enjoyed it. I ended up playing it close to ninety hours and never felt like the game overstayed its welcome. While it is a sequel, I never played more than the first hour of Atelier Sophie, since we had another person review the game, and I still followed what was happening quite well. It helps that there is a 'Story so far' option on the main menu, which summarizes what happened in the first Atelier Sophie, so you won't be lost. I'm sure having played Atelier Lydie & Suelle no doubt helped also, as this wasn't my first time getting to know Sophie, but I feel like most first-timers can still enjoy Atelier Sophie 2. If you are curious what this crazy combination of crafting and combat is all about, I feel like Atelier Sophie 2 is a great place to check it out. I really enjoyed this game, and I think you might also if you like cuteness, crafting, and combat (not to mention exploration and gathering!).

Login Form



Please consider supporting our efforts.  Since we're a 501 C3 Non-Profit organization, your donations are tax deductible.