Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland Review

Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland  Featured

Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland Boxart

Developer: Gust
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: PlayStation 3

Things were going fairly well for a teenager nicknamed Rorona. Sure, she was basically forced to work as an alchemist’s apprentice to pay off a debt, and her boss was a supreme creep, but it’s wasn’t that terrible! That is until the King decreed that her very shop was to be closed down – no townsfolk even care. This set of horrible circumstances are what awaits players as they play the introduction of Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland.

As Rorona, it is the player’s task to do a series of assignments for the King to sway him into sparing the shop. These twelve tasks are assigned one at a time and each have a due date. The final one being after three in-game years. With this obvious goal in mind, Rorona must work hard to scavenge items, fight monsters, use alchemy recipes, and fulfill the many requests lobbed in her direction. You see, it’s not only the King that has tasks but also the townsfolk and even your friends. Yep, poor Rorona is in for a seriously busy three years.

Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland Screenshot 1

There is a very rigid overall structure to Atelier Rorona, which means players can only ever do so many things before time runs out. You can venture outside of town to collect items for recipes and fight enemies along the way. Or, you can scrounge up some money and buy them from shopkeepers. Of course, who you choose to help is also up in the air. If you want, it is possible to completely spurn the King’s requests and help townsfolk exclusively instead, or vice versa. Although it is worth trying to manage both, chances are you’ll still not get the “true” ending without consulting a guide (or being awesome at time management).

In some ways, the game is simplistic. Instead of having a variety of points to draw from in battle, there is only HP. Rorona’s health is utilized for everything. Whether you’re performing alchemy or using a special skill, HP is pulled from. Of course, being attacked also drains some. However, there is no way to die. At worst, losing a fight will send you back home to nurse your wounds for a few days until they heal. Of course, you don’t want this to happen because it wastes precious days. Aside from HP, time is your main currency and it’s always draining!

Using alchemy is a surprisingly simple task thanks to smart menu design. The menu will always pull you to a specific section of items when one is needed for a recipe. Various traits of each item are also displayed, although this can become complex as you learn harder recipes. Without the right traits, you may end up with a poorly alchemized product. Gathering items, however, is not as fantastic. You can only carry 60 at a time and transferring them between the storage box at home and back is a tedious exercise. There are no easy ways to grab a section of items which would have been incredibly useful.

Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland Screenshot 2

Visually, Atelier Rorona is still a beautiful game. If you can ignore the sometimes fanboy-focused attire the design is otherwise very pretty. The world is pastel colored and the cel-shading is still as lovely as ever. Some backgrounds look uninspired, but it’s easy to ignore them when being put at ease by the attractive animation paired with a great soundtrack. Then there are the still pieces of art which also look divine. They’re highly detailed, colorful, and far nicer than the standard anime fare. Unfortunately, some of the game’s crude humor makes it into these scenes which really detracts from the overall atmosphere.

Atelier Rorona is a game of surprises. It doesn’t seem like such a pretty game would require strategic play to complete with a good ending but it does. Sure, you can fritter away the years, but then be left with an unsatisfying conclusion. As good as it looks, there are still instances where the writing veers into trite innuendo which has already been provided in many other lesser JRPGs. Although it leaves me with mixed feelings, Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland still managed to sink its hooks in. I’ll become a master alchemist yet!


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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  • Barrel~

    A more positive impression than I expected. I actually didn’t like Rorona a whole lot, but I’m glad I got to play it since it helped made me appreciate Totori/Meruru more. I would recommend checking those out sometime since I think you’ve done the part I’d find the hardest to encourage (playing Rorona with its questionable quirks and all). I’ll just say one thing about them though, they definitely help fix your problem with gathering and then some (granted, you have to “create” it, so to speak.).

    And yeah, stuff like the homunculi joke, ugh.