(Articles in the Ramble Ral section are presented “as is” with minor editing. For more information please see its section page. They will probably contain spoilers for the game in question)
I think I’m about to finish Atelier Ayesha, if the sudden forced tough boss battle is any indicator, so I’m going to throw in some of my thoughts that probably won’t change too much when I actually complete the game.
– Well, I don’t want to bring up the dub only thing but… oops, I brought it up.
Anyway, I think the males are good, Keithgriff and Harry are fun to listen to. Not that there are many male characters in this…
The females are a mixed bag. My favourite is Wilbell, and some characters like Marionette do a decent job, but the VAs who are trying to do “teenage cutesy” voices are annoying (Ayesha is included in the list).
This seems like a general weakness of dub VAs trying to imitate the intention of the original COUGH VANILLE COUGH and I don’t know if this is like a cultural thing that doesn’t transplant well.
– I spent most of the game with only Regina, Wilbell and Linca as party members. I unlocked Juris in like… year 2. I’m pretty sure there are more than 4 playable characters in this game but somehow my playstyle led me to not unlocking them for a long time.
– I like the music best out of all the PS3 Ateliers, though I don’t know why. It’s kind of all over the place though where you can enter a new area and go “wtf” at the music choice.
This is the only Atelier game that doesn’t have a “homebase” BGM that drives me nuts.
– The game makes some changes which aren’t improvements which I don’t understand. For example, instead of getting all your jobs at a tavern, you got to run around town and get the quests from generic NPCs themselves. This adds an additional layer for annoyance for no real reason.
I guess you could “Well, it gives you an opportunity to know the NPCs unlike getting jobs from the bar” but yeah, no, the NPC questgivers are about as lively as an MMO questgiver, it’s just 1 short sentence and then DELIVER 10 FRUITS.
– They changed the Alchemy system from Arland but I can’t really say it’s better, just… new. I suppose if they reused the same system for the 3rd time I would probably be bored to tears by now but it definitely needs some kinks worked out.
First problem, you can’t really “unlock” the potential of the system until you get all 4 usable alchemy powers. It takes a while to reach there so you’ll be creating close to generic items for a while.
Secondly, they seem to cut down on the “carry over” aspect of item synthesis. Arland asked you to go back to the basic items once in a while to build them with high quality materials so you can chain them into future project but Ayesha doesn’t. It feels weird that Item Quality doesn’t seem to do jack at all.
Because items lead into each other less, it makes half of the items in the game kind of useless outside of doing the achievement thing to gain bonuses.
The system is also surprisingly terribly explained by the game and I had to read an FAQ to understand how to use it.
Some improvements though. They normalized all the item quantities needed so you never have the situation of “Okay, this item needs 1X, 2Y and 3Z components, and I want 7 batches, so I will need OI_)!*$QWLJAhurgh” type arithmetic nightmares. If you want to build 2 batches of each item, you need 2 of each item, done.
Also they got rid of the percentage chance of failure. Thank God because I never want to see another “WHOOPS I’M GOING TO CAUSE AN EXPLOSION” scene in an Atelier game.
– For some reason this doesn’t seem to happen to many people, but my game seem to crash randomly during and after battles. It’s definitely not a disk problem and GUST is the only company I know whose games crash on my PS3.
The only thing I can find is that some people think it’s the model of my PS3 but no confirmation.
Here are my final thoughts on Ayesha which may not be organized.
As odd as it sounds to be saying this about the 4th in a series of RPGs for a console, Ayesha will probably end up like Rorona as being a “transitory” game to a newer style that will be forgotten once the 2nd polished game is out (and they pretty much announced it already so…)
I don’t know if I like the direction they are taking. The game seems to be an attempt to blend in the more “Adventure/combat” elements without completely abandoning the Life Simulation gameplay structure (like Iris did)
This is kind of the most (unintentionally?) combat centric mainline Atelier game. The time taken for combat is significantly reduced, they give quite a lot of items upon defeat and they’re the only way to get equipment drops, so you’re actually encouraged to fight as many battles as you can.
The problem is that the combat system is still too simple to support heavy combat-centrism. There’s some strange half-baked attempt at combat positioning and characters have battle niches but for most random battles your strategy basically boil down to “Use AOE a lot.” Does knockback even do anything? They move a tiny bit distance back but they’ll probably die before you get a chance to take advantage of it. Shrug.
And the characters may have niches but it doesn’t help if the enemies don’t have them, because they’re kind of generic and you fight the same ones over and over again. Seriously I think there are like, 7 enemy types total in the game?
Kind of reminds me of Dragon Age, but I guess at least this game has the excuse of being done in 1 year only.
To top it off, the battle pacing is completely wonky. The game is super easy right up to the end, where the game FORCES you to fight 2 tough bosses if you want to beat the game and if you want a “party member” ending, you’ll have to do their sidequests which culminates in an additional boss battle each.
I think this is COMPLETELY uncharacteristic to the Atelier series to do so. Most of the mainline series do have superbosses to fight but it’s generally confined as a sidequest to the most “combat-centric” character archetype, not ALL of them.
Beating those two stupid bosses was like running into a brick wall BTW. I had to spend half an hour grinding and crafting to get past them.
And all the areas are kind of super tiny because of budget so there’s not a lot of joy in exploring them, really. It’s just not one of the strengths of the series if you can’t spend enough money on it.
As far as the non-combat parts of the game goes, I already wrote my feelings on the Alchemy system so I think I’ll go into something else…
I sort of like how they tried to simulate a world where there are calender events/festivals/celebrations and where you can make friends with characters whose jobs are basically wandering merchants and run into them on the world map which gives a more “alive” feeling to the world, but I don’t think there’s enough of those.
Heck, the only ones I can remember now are Bazaar Week where your party members set up shops you can patronize and the Item Appraisal Contest.
Anyway I think the summary of the wall of text would be that I would kind of rather have GUST focus on more economic and simulation aspects of the game rather than wolf genocide because I have plenty of other games that I can play if I wanted those, but shrug.
Next post: Some stuff about the story.
Ayesha Part 2:
So I think what this game taught me is that my least favourite female character type is “Airheaded bimbo”
Seriously, Ayesha was really a poor choice of archetype for the game’s plot.
Rorona was a airheaded moron, but her game’s plot was some wacky hi-jinks about property closure (which wasn’t good, but appropriate), Totori was shy and had self-esteem problems which fits into the plot of a girl dedicated to looking for her missing since childhood mother.
Ayesha is an airheaded moron in a plot about finding her missing sister in a kind of cliche world where people misused technology in the past causing a great disaster which caused technology to regress into a more primitive state.
That is a bit of a mismatch.
Ayesha seems to treat the task with about the same importance as going to the grocery store to pick up some milk.
I think Ayesha’s really weak personality contribute to me not finding the characters very strong due to their interaction. Ayesha just handles most conversations in the game by going “TEEHEE”, tilting her head and having some vapid thought while the other characters speak.
In fact I would kind of say the best scenes in the game would either be
1) Ayesha is watching two other characters interact and doesn’t contribute much herself.
2) The other character she is interacting with has a very strong/assertive personality that it pulls her up, such as Wilbell or Harry.
And the worst scenes are basically the ones where both characters are just “TEEHEE TEEHEE it’s nice to be friends!” like with Nanaca.
I think she’s kind of a bland character overall. I would like to round her up next to Serah from FF13-2 and execute them both by firing squad. Then I would replace her with Keithgriff as the main character.
Anyway, as for the plot, well, it’s an odd mix of slice of life all the way up to the end, where they jam in some stuff that feels “important” which feels like an attempt to appease people who require their games to end with beating up a big monster dofus. I mean, shrug.
SUPER PLOT SPOILER: Also, a tree named Yggdrasil who comes into conflict with the main characters because of its orders to preserve life which it takes literally leading our main characters to destroy it and thus feel guilty about it? Man, why does that sound familiar
Okay final summary, I would probably still rate this game decent to good and I certainly had more fun playing it than that overrated POS Suikod… *Is mobbed to death by rabid fanboys*
But I think the series is wearing a little thin, and it’s only sort of slightly mitigated by the fact that there’s not exactly a flooded market for Simulation games.
Still I would rather see one “super polished gameplay” Atelier than more “Buyers = Beta Test for game concepts” Ateliers.
Super Random Comment: Why does Marionette not wear her apron properly? Is that supposed to convey that she’s a slob? She certainly doesn’t seem like one… How does it stay on if one of the straps is completely off anyway?