As mentioned a while back when I wrote my first impressions of the remake, Atelier Rorona was the weakest out of the Arland trilogy mostly for the fact that the graphics was the weakest aspect of the game. I didn’t play the original mostly because there was a good possibility that Gust would be remade it and I was right.
New Atelier Rorona pretty much took all the good aspects of Atelier Meruru (and some aspects from Atelier Escha and Logy) in terms of gameplay and graphics while adding cross-play compatibly with the PS3 and the Vita and combined them together with the original story. Since I have finished most of the game, it’s time to take an overall look at the game.
Note: Like with all the Arland games, the Plus versions were rereleased on the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch as DX on September 20, 2018. As with the Plus version, the review will cover the DX versions as well.
The story pretty much follows the original as a young apprentice alchemist named Rorona Frixell receives a message from a knight that the kingdom doesn’t need alchemy anymore and they are planning to shut down the workshop. The only way for her to stop this is to do a series of assignments over the course of three years to convince them not to shut it down. She receives help from her friends as she develops her skills in alchemy to complete her tasks.
Like the previous games, Atelier Rorona places a lot of emphasis on time management. Unlike Meruru and Totori, you have a fixed schedule of 79 to 89 days to complete all the tasks, meaning that you have to use your time efficiently (in total, you have three years excluding the 1 year extension, which is unlocked with a cleared save data). Thankfully in this game, battling and collecting items do not take up time. Furthermore, you don’t have to worry about having your LP depleted from traveling and attacking monsters. This means that you have to worry more on how much time you spend towards making new items, resting and traveling. If you make any of the decoration items such as the Travel’s Shoes, you can use your time more efficiently. Like in Meruru, these items will carry over in a New Game Plus just like your equipment and cole.
As for the tasks, you are only required to do the main task. Depending on the quantity and quality of the item will determine how high of an evaluation you will get. Ideally, you should at least get 8 small stars, which will give you 3 big stars for the fact that you don’t need separate saves to get every ending. Like Escha and Logy, New Atelier Rorona now determines the endings by the choices the player makes at the end. This means that you need to focus more on triggering all the character’s/event flags rather than reducing the valuation/popularity. Aside from that, all the other tasks are optional. If you complete them, you can receive a stamp on the bingo board and line them up to receive a reward in addition to receiving tickets. You can exchange the tickets to get items such as ingredients, weapons, accessories and new costumes.
As for the battling and alchemy system, it’s pretty much the same just like in Meruru. However, there are a few differences in the battle system. All the assists are now shared between all the characters and all three alchemists have additional skills (including assist abilities and a finishing move). If you make the best equipment (from my experience, I use Rainbow Power, Soul Power, Snow Power, Master Skill for the weapons and max HP, defense, MP traits), you can defeat most of the powerful bosses, especially in the extension. I managed to beat almost all the bosses in Makina’s Domain and Abyss Tower, except the final boss, which is impossible without the best items and equipment.
Overall, I did enjoy New Atelier Rorona quite a lot. The characters, especially Cordelia, Lionela and Esty (yes, she is playable along with Astrid) are enjoyable. While the idea of shutting down the workshop is grim, the antagonist/villain is never taken seriously. To me, the story feels more like a light-hearted slice of life with a few moments of drama. I think Gust did a good job improving the old game while adding new goodies to the game such as costumes, extra music, ability to pass traits through seeds and two new tough dungeons to beat.
With the Arland trilogy finally completed, I wonder how Atelier Ayesha Plus will fare when it releases in two weeks. Still, I will definitely recommend this remake over the original for those who are new or already played the latter two Arland games once Tecmo Koei (which is the parent company for Gust) ever decide to localize it.
Strengths: Improved graphics/gameplay, additional characters/dungeons, the ability to customize outfits of other characters (Cordelia, Lionela, Sterk), new event options such as ability to skip events, view previous dialog and asterisks indicating character events. Also, additional rewards from doing tasks, enjoyable characters and story.
Weaknesses: Getting the Rich ending takes more effort (ability for Hom to collect of dragon items is moved to the extension, meaning you need to grind on Gray Punis). Moreover, I had the game crashed on me several times (although this is probably not true with the PS3 version). Also, Cross play requires one to buy the PS3 and Vita copy separately.
Recommended Japanese Level: Upper Intermediate