Ever since I regained my interest in Japanese Role Playing games back in 2012, besides the Tales of games (so far, I played some of Graces f and finished Hearts), I decided to give some of the Atelier games a try. When I started playing it, it differed from other Japanese RPGs not because it focuses less on combat, but rather more on the time management aspect. After playing five games from the franchise, I wonder what lessons I learned along the way in order to use the in-game time efficiently.
If you haven’t played an Atelier game, the games can be summed up as this. It’s basically a slice of life, item crafting and time management as a role-playing game. While the first few games (Atelier Marie and Ellie) were primitive at the time as the games lacked an over world, it was innovate since it didn’t follow the same old formula of saving the world, but rather on item crafting.
When I started playing Atelier Meruru for the first time, I didn’t give any regard to the important aspects and played it just like any role-playing game: craft items without giving a care in the world about the properties and effects so that I can complete a task and earn development points to build more facilities. I learned the hard way as tasks later in the game has specific requirements such as an item needing a specific quality, property or effect to finish with fewer items. As expected, I ended up wasting more time to make new items, finding ingredients and earn money to duplicate already made items. The same goes for battling. No matter how much grinding you do, you will still have a hard time defeating tougher monsters unless you have strong equipment.
Regardless of what game you play, each action (synthesizing, resting, battling, traveling, gathering ingredients) takes a certain amount of time. For instance, crafting a bomb usually take one day. Therefore, you want to save time by delivering the items all at once opposed to making multiple trips and most importantly, make the item right the first time. It’s better to focus on using the right ingredients when crafting items so that you can get the desired effects/properties. This means that you should craft items with the best properties a price down so that you can save time and money when you buy wholesale items. While coming up with the best items, especially equipment can be time-consuming, it will pay off in the long run as you won’t have to waste time making more items or struggle against a hard boss.
On the other hand, getting used to the gameplay is also important. While playing the game, I didn’t know that making and equipping adventure items such as the coveted Adventure Shoes could actually save time. Not only that, using the Homunculi and warehousing features are convenient as I can receive duplicate of items or new ingredients without having to do it on my own. In other words, your first play though or attempt is going to be rough, especially when you are trying to see all the character events. Through the experience you gain over time, the game will become more enjoyable the more you get better at it. Not only that, you will find out how many things you missed during your first play through. Eventually, you will be able to see all the events required for the endings.
While it’s sad to see the time limit removed from Atelier Shallie, I feel that this gameplay mechanic is what made these games exciting to play since one’s success is dependent on how well he/she plays the game. Sure, there are other games such as Persona and The Idolmaster, which also have time limits as well. I still feel that this aspect is more exciting in the Atelier games since there are many things the player can do to efficiently use the free time he/she has.
What are your experiences do you have with time limits in role-playing games? Do you personally find it annoying or make it more challenging?
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