In the JRPG world if a game is mildly successful the developer makes a sequel. Now Square Enix is known for their sequels involving numbers but not all of the game connect. Just because the games don’t connect does not mean that the game isn’t a sequel. Square’s way of sequels (direct) is slapping a “-2” on the end of the title. Gust CO however does things like intersecting characters and environments. The previous Atelier games have mini franchises in them. As in, the sequels are one story. The current ongoing Atelier story takes place in the land of Arland. And Atelier Rorona was the first one to introduce this new land and the clumsy alchemist Rorona.
With Atelier Totori being the second in the series and a direct sequel it is natural you will come across Rorona. Turns out, Rorona is a teacher traveling to towns spreading the word of alchemy and what it brings. In short, Totori saves her life because as usual, Rorona is not the brightest of the bunch and she becomes lost and exhausted collapsing in in front of Totori’s village. To pay Totori back for her kindness she teaches her about alchemy.
A new job has come to fruition in the land of Arland. The knight order is dying and Adventurers are all the rage. The Adventurers act as traveling knights taking jobs from townsfolk about killing monsters mostly. Alchemy’s success in Arland has made it the recent craze and becoming an adventurer is Totori’s dream. With her knowledge of Alchemy she is able to adventure out and become the adventurer she has always wanted.
Atelier Totori’s story up front is a light hearted tale about a country girl who wants to do more. While her sister is opposed and wants her to be safe she is still her number one supporter (sort of). You meet many characters from the previous game like Sterk, the knight who helped Rorona save her workshop. All of the friends that run the shops are still around. You even see Cordelia in her royal garb as she helps run the new adventurer guild. The best part is, they all look different and appear they have aged a few years. Rorona doesn’t look like a child, neither does Cordelia or Iksel. Sterk looks more mature even though it appears Nomura (Final Fantasy Character designer) got a hold of the sketchbook with all of his trench coat leather belt garb. It still works, and it shows that this game is a real sequel.
Some problems with Rorona seemed to be organization. While the alchemy system was phenomenal it seemed to be thrown together, it needed to look cleaner. Totori does just that. It has cleaned up the menus and is significantly easier to look at. With this new appearance upgrade the difficulty also increased. So there is nothing lacking in terms of what to do and how to do it. Completing the town requests from both the adventurer guild and your hometown. Juggling the two can be daunting, but once you get in your groove, it feels natural. Everything you get needs to be crafted, armor, weapons, healing items. That is what makes the Atelier series unique. If you want great items, you need to create them. If you buy things from a store, the quality is average but they do not carry any special traits. The alchemy in Totori is spot on. It is clean, easy to learn but difficult to master. I love that, the game has what other games lack, a means to continue playing. It doesn’t rely on mediocre multiplayer, or gimmicky looks. You have to become the best alchemist in Arland, simple and to the point.
The second gameplay mechanic is the battle system. It got a drastic overhaul. There weren’t many real issues in Rorona in terms of battles, but in Totori it is just an upgrade and it feels more like a turn based JRPG like it should. You can recruit many people to your party new and old including Iksel and Cordelia (with DLC). Every character is unique and they all have their own missions to fulfill with alchemy. Fulfilling these requests earns you a better ending for every character, just like in Rorona. There are multiple endings so expect to be playing this game a lot. The music is great and fits the mood and atmosphere. The art style is nothing short of fantastic. And the in game models look more like their 2D counterparts.
Totori is a real sequel and game developers should take note. Gust Co knows how to treat their fans, and I feel privileged to play their games rather than the other way around. I give Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland a 9/10. It is exclusive to the PS3 and is published by NISA. Happy gaming.