Alchemy is an art of science and supernatural mystery. The very laws of science and universal definitives are bent to create something in the world of alchemy. But, alchemy can be a dangerous practice though if wielded for good amazing opportunities are possible. This is the quest of young alchemist-in-training Lulua and her desire to become a great alchemist. She is the alchemist that everyone in her small town knows and she goes about her day performing simple tasks with her skills. But destiny has other plans and by magical happenstance, her life changes forever as she embarks on a massive new adventure. This is Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland from developer GUST and Koei Tecmo Games. The 20th installment in a long series of games, with its beginnings in 1997, this newest series takes a big step forward for the franchise, becoming an experience that anyone can jump into.
Lulua yearns to use her alchemist skills to better the lives of herself and others but remains under the tutelage of her firm and friendly teacher. One day, following an adventure in her town, a mysterious book materializes before her eyes. This mysterious text appears as a blank book for others, but for Lulua the book is filled with clues and riddles to form recipes and perform amazing feats in alchemy. This allows her to build special items for exploration and combat. The book, later named the Alchemy Riddle, puts Lulua in a position to see the world and make a huge difference for other people. With the mysterious book in tow, she embarks on a massive adventure with her crew of alchemists and warriors to face whatever challenges lay ahead of them.
Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland first impresses players with its presentation and character development. Even if players have no prior familiarity with the other Atelier games they can still play Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland and feel right at home.
The primary protagonist, Lulua, is an interesting and enjoyable character. SIlly but honest, steadfast but empathetic, Lulua will find herself surrounded by other friends and strangers, many of them women. The story was mostly heartwarming and wholesome, as Lulua and the party embark on many adventures and discover new and exciting traits about themselves and each other. Love, family, community, humor are the important pillars of camaraderie are evident throughout the adventure. The interaction of Lulua and her crew are commendable as not only are they interesting, but they do not fall into the same tropes and fallacies of other games.
Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland is a game about adventure, discovery, and alchemy, as well as one young woman’s ambition to better herself and the amazing people in her life. In addition to the characters and story, Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland sports a solid presentation with the incredibly polished anime-inspired aesthetic as well as vibrant colors within a dynamic European-inspired fantasy setting. The characters’ outfits weave bright hues of purple, greens, and pinks to emphasize the welcoming warmth of the game. This is a refreshing impression as other JRPGs foster grey, orange, and a dystopia of some sort. The music features an eclectic collection of music to underscore the activity. Piano and softer tracks play during moments of town exploration, and heightened, more energetic tracks play during adventuring and combat.
Presentation is only a small part of the offerings from Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland. The game focuses on three attributes: alchemy, exploration, and combat. As an alchemist, players will explore various parts fo the wide-open world, discovering new and exciting elements to use. If it sparkles, pick it up as each area has an assortment of sparkling items that can be retrieved. Later in the game, players will be able to fish for creatures and use a net to grab insects, all for the use of alchemy. Players can hold a large number of items before filling their basket and return to their Atelier Wagon to store them. Players will begin with simple items, and their recipes, to get started. Players will be able to create and customize their recipe and the item they wish to use. For example, if a medicinal herb needs grass to be created, the player can choose which type of grass to use and that particular type may bring about a different effect, including offensive, and defensive perks or efficiency.
With the book, the AlchemyRiddle, players will be able to unlock more secrets to alchemy. The book contains the paramount alchemy objective for each of the game’s ten chapters. The game is filled with hints and riddles, suggesting where the player can search for specific ingredients. While each chapter has a series of paramount objectives that further the story, a long list of secondary objectives within the book can be completed. These secondary objectives will greatly enhance a players experience with Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland, unlocking new alchemy recipes for synthesis. These objectives aren’t spoon-fed to the player, but will not be a terrible challenge to accomplish. A quick look online will help any player stuck at finding a specific objective.
There is a large assortment of things to do in Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland. Talking to characters at various locations yields a special request, or the opportunity to obtain more items for synthesizing into alchemy. At various locations, players can take assignments and earn money. That money can be used to either buy more items or buy the items themselves including, those of most importance, books. While players have the AlchemyRiddle, players will need to acquire more books throughout their adventure to learn more alchemy recipes and the nature of the items they are synthesizing. Players will get the most out of Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland if they explore every square inch and take every secondary objective possible. Over time, players will become accustomed to the systems of exploration and alchemy.
Players will fight a very large roster of enemies in their quest. Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland plays as a turn-based combat game, with players making their moves to either fight or defend against their foes. Initially, the game will be easy, with most enemies being felled quickly. However, by Chapter 2, the enemies ramp up in difficulty and sophistication, encouraging the player to level up and use their alchemy skills to their fullest.
Fortunately, the battle system in Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland is streamlined and also takes full advantage of the alchemy portions. In a party, players can perform link attacks with other members, where one special skill attack, which uses magic, will yield further attacks by the other members of the party. Additionally, players can use the “interrupt” command by equipping a specific item to utilize during said command. If players find themselves being attacked and backed into a corner, they may employ the “interrupt” during that action. This can range from deploying health or magic regeneration to throwing bombs. Using this interrupt is essential for maintaining an advantage of on the battlefield. The enemies are not to be underestimated despite their innocent appearances.
When the aspects of Alchemy, exploration, and combat come together, Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland becomes a tremendously refreshing JRPG. Collecting ingredients, slaying foes, and using their items for synthesizing is always an ambitious reward as the player is constantly invited to keep exploring, keep synthesizing, and keep investing in the story. There is an air of mystery but warmth throughout the experience. The Alchemy Riddle is mysterious and no one knows how Lulua acquires it, but she uses the book to help others and solve seemingly impossible challenges. Successfully defeating tough enemies and discovering new items of synthesizing is always a joy. Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland offers plenty to do. Between the alchemy mechanics and secondary objectives, players are looking at a JRPG that can last well over 50 hours.
Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland is a strong JRPG, but it does suffer from the common trope of being painfully slow in the beginning. The game does a good job showing the ropes to the player, but the first few hours of the game are slow and can push the player off to an extent. However, once players make their way into Chapter 2, Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland takes off with new lands to discover, new enemies to fight, and new recipes to procure.
The game can become rather repetitive during long sessions, but the story kept holding my interests. Finally, some of the objectives of the Alchemy Riddle may have been slightly too vague. One objective wanted me to secure nectar when there was no indication as to where to find nectar. A quick look online revealed that I needed to use honey instead, which was easy and in abundance.
Overall, Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland is a remarkably, bright, and colorful JRPG that JRPG enthusiasts or newcomers should experience. Its collection of characters, unique gameplay trifecta, and whimsical presentation provide a different and distinct JRPG experience that players will embark on, enjoy, and remember long after the credits roll. Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland whips up a great adventure.
Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland is available now on PlayStation 4, PC, and the Nintendo Switch
Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland
Overall, Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland is a remarkably, bright, and colorful JRPG that JRPG enthusiasts or newcomers should experience. Its collection of characters, unique gameplay trifecta, and whimsical presentation provide a different and distinct JRPG experience that players will embark, enjoy, and remember long after the credits roll.