Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout starts an all-new story from the GUST Studios’ popular Atelier series published by KOEI Tecmo. This role-playing game follows the escapades of Ryza, an adventurous teenage girl who dreams of getting away from her tedious village lifestyle, alongside her best friends Lent and Tao.
One day, while the teens are exploring a forbidden island, looking for adventure, they meet an old magician that changes their lives forever. After some convincing, the magician agrees to teach Ryza the bewitching ways of alchemy. This eventually sets her on an adventure that will ultimately lead her on a quest to save her hometown from the mysterious and deadly darkness that is hiding just beneath the surface of the placid town.
One thing I really enjoyed about Atelier Ryza was the character designs. The game has a vast variety of fanciful character designs from Ryza and her best friends Lent, Tao, and Klaudia, to other secondary characters like Agatha, Empel, and Lila that they meet along the way. I specifically like the anime-esque styles used for the characters that are in the same vein as those from previous games in the series.
Atelier Ryza is an open-world game with beautiful scenic designs for your explore on your journey with Ryza. The designs in the game, similar to others in the series, have that colorful anime look and feel while also putting more importance on light and shadows compared to the previous games. This really helps bring the world that Ryza and her friends explore to life. I also feel that the use of cel-shading in the game makes the environments and characters really pop on the screen. If you have the ability to do so, I highly recommend docking your Switch and playing this game on a bigger screen. Playing on a bigger screen really made me appreciate the game’s design and details even more.
Another thing I enjoyed was the Real-Time Tactical Battle system, which is a big change compared to the previous games’ turn-based combat like in Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland. During battles, time doesn’t pause when you are choosing character actions; it continues to pass.
However, characters and enemies can only make moves when it’s their turn. You can have a maximum of three characters in your battle party, and you can freely switch between characters to control their actions. Something else to be aware of during battles are the Action Points. Action Points, also known as AP, are accumulated by putting basic attacks together and are tied to special combat skills. After you earn the necessary amount of AP, then you can use them to perform stronger attacks. The Action Points, however, are shared between all party members, so it is very important to use them wisely and strategically if you want to be victorious.
While I like this new gameplay, it is a bit difficult to get used to at first. However, it is very refreshing and fun once you get the hang of it. I like that it adds a new strategic challenge to turn-based battle play. I also think both old and new fans will be able to enjoy the new battle features.
Something else I enjoyed about the game was crafting materials with the new ‘Linkage Synthesis’ system. This is a revamped synthesis interface that displays all of the required materials to create items and the effects that can be added to items. The new ‘Linkage Synthesis’ system also features a set number of cells that can be unlocked through strategic item placement. This expands into a variety of results that can imbue the final products based on the way the cell branches.
The game makes the crafting process very easy to understand and fun to experiment with all of the materials you collect on your adventure. I especially liked playing this game on my Nintendo Switch because it allowed me to keep hunting for materials and craft items when I was on the go. Which I feel made collecting materials more efficient in comparison to playing the game on a non-portable console.
One thing I didn’t care too much for was the amount of dialogue. I personally love a game with a good story-driven plot. However, there were some parts of the game that I felt like there was too much dialogue. Luckily, if you skip the scenes you can always refer to the menu and read an abbreviated summary of the dialogue with the highlighted takeaways you should pay attention to for your current objectives or quests.
Overall, while it may take a little time to learn new features like the combat system and new material crafting, the game is a lot of fun once you get the hang of it. Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & Secret Hideout is a delightful and visually pleasing Japanese RPG filled with vibrant colors, a variety of characters, beautiful open-world environments to explore, and tells a heart-warming coming of age story about wonder and adventure. I highly recommend it for both old and new fans alike. I think the new features offer an opportunity for newcomers to enter the franchise while also giving veteran fans a new and refreshing challenge to the popular series.
Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & Secret Hideout is available on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & Secret Hideout
Atelier Ryza is a delightful and visually pleasing Japanese RPG filled with vibrant colors, a variety of characters, beautiful open-world environments to explore, and tells a heart-warming coming of age story about wonder and adventure.