So Japanese games have at least some kind of rudimentary coverage in the English world, even if it’s sometimes sparse depending on the particular game in question, but one aspect of the gaming world that has almost non-existent coverage are games from other Asian countries – Chinese, Korean and so on.
Today’s entry was brought to my attention by someone who thought it might be of interest to me – a Korean RPG that’s supposedly an Atelier clone. What magical surprises are in store for me…?
Now, I know of certain Korean games such as the Magna Carta series and several games that Falcom (creators of Ys) localized for Japan such as Rhapsody of Zephyr and War of Genesis, but judging from my Google search results, this game seems hella obscure even in Korea.
I only really found 2 Korean “database” websites with some basic information of the game. I do believe there’s a grand total of 0 English coverage of this game, so once again I’m a super trail-blazer covering new ground.
I’m not even quite sure if this game’s name really is “Adith: The Forgotten Alchemy” or if it’s just called that because it’s the only recognizable English text on the boxart and title screen.
Incidentally, if you’re looking at that starting screenshot (and the proceeding ones) and thinking “Hey! You silly billy, that’s Chinese text, not Korean! What are you, some kind of racist who thinks all Asians are the same HMM I’m going on Tumblr right now and writing 10 paragraphs of text on how racist you are!”, yes, I’m playing the Chinese localized version of the game… mostly because I have 0 knowledge of the Korean language.
Mind you, I don’t have much knowledge of Chinese EITHER but I can pretend to recognize the carryover Kanji from Japanese… wait, I shouldn’t have typed that. OH NO, FRAUD STATUS REVEALED.
We start off our game with an old-timey faded photograph picture of our heroine as a tiny child playing a harmonica. CLASSY.
But soon you are woken up by childhood female friend that may or may not be a lesbian, as per customary Atelier cliche.
Incidentally, this particular text line of the game has “automatic text” which is mostly way too fast for my system to handle. It’s an interesting touch I suppose. Also a lot of characters have blinking animations while talking to you, which slightly livens the Visual Novel-like presentation up.
A look at our character stats. Jeez, those are a lot of stats. Also I think our main character’s face got hit with the ugly stick a little here.
For those who have only played the modern Atelier games, a lot of the “art direction” in this particular games feel like a pretty unabashed attempt at replicating the style of early Atelier games such as Marie. They do a surprisingly good job at it without straight out ripping assets from that game, I suppose so… points…?
It does somehow feel cheaper than the first Atelier game though, which is saying something, because that game was done on a shoestring budget.
Exploring the town, here’s the shop, the function of which should be self-explanatory, and the bar, where I guess you’re supposed to talk to people in order to collect information. If only I could actually utilize that help by understanding the language because I’m certain it would make the next parts of the game less painful…. OOH FORESHADOWING.
(Geez, even for a barmaid that outfit seems ultra skimpy)
Eventually you’ll come across the Magic School and you’ll get your first task of the game… collecting ingredients. Which I suppose you need to do first because what would you use for the process then… but I always imagined an Alchemy game should focus on what’s supposed to be the important part of the game first…
Oh did I say your first task of the game? I mean “first three tasks.” Yes, the game makes you waste time on item collection THRICE before you will even be allowed to throw anything into a pot in an alchemic fashion.
Gosh, the female characters in the game are mostly easy on the eyes but these guys are pretty hideous. I’ll be glad to get away from them, let’s get out of town and start collecting stuff…
AAAAA AAAAA AAAAA AAAAA *girlish shrieking*
No Ganon, I do not wish for you to make my face the greatest in all of Koridai.
Ok, so here’s something I don’t get – most of the characters in the game have this faux Anime look, because they’re trying to copy Atelier and that game was Japanese, no?
But a lot of the male characters in the game are drawn with this strange “realistic caricature” style that makes them really jarring to look at. Is this a thing in Korea? Someone enlighten me if they have any idea why they chose to pursue this strange art decision. NOWMOVINGON
So here’s the biggest departure from Atelier so far – the original Atelier Marie did not have explorable “dungeon/outdoors” areas and instead just had a simple menu-based simple for gathering ingredients. Exploration was added in later games, but I believe in the timeline, since Adith was created in 1999 and the feature was added in the PS2 Atelier games, Adith technically has them beaten to the punch!
In addition, rather than using a turn-based battle system that Atelier does, Adith instead uses grid-based action gameplay. A completely different better system is definitely a big change, no?
Now if only the system was actually good.
I’m not even sure where to begin to explain how bad the system is, but let me try anyway…
First off, Adith uses an isometric view, which would be fine, that’s the view that the original Atelier games use too… BUT NOT IN A DAMN ACTION GAME WHERE DIRECTIONS ARE MAPPED STRANGELY. It takes a while to get used to the fact that say, pushing up does not make your character walk straight upwards but instead moves them a step to the top left. while hitting right moves them towards the top right.
It’s not particularly a very complex system for an Action RPG, you have one button for melee attacks, and can cast up to 3 magic spells which don’t appear to have much in the ways of differences outside of their MP cost. They mostly cause a projectile to fly forward from your character and deal damage when hit.
I ended up flubbing projectile shots a lot.
Also, the enemy doesn’t really seem to have any sort of attack pattern or timing at all to their attacks. Since being hit causes you to enter a “hitstun” animation, it’s possible for the enemy to just wail on you constantly causing you to be unable to even get a single hit in and entering a sort of “soft stunlock.” It’s only not a hard stunlock because you could always move out of the way and run if you find yourself in such a situation… unless you got yourself cornered, in that case… too bad!
So if for some reason you manage to get a hold of this game, here’s my tip – just stand around the starting area and grind until your character doesn’t suck because there’s not much of an opportunity to “outplay” the enemies here.
The ingredient gathering system… has issues. Pop Quiz: What can be searched in this picture to get items?
Surprise, it’s a trick! The answer is “Just about every object on the map here, which might potentially give you different items depending on which direction you approach it in”
There does seem to be a general pattern such as how searching a lake is almost going to randomly give you some sort of water based item or ice crystals… but some items seem to be a lot harder to collect than others.
To make matters worse, I actually had a lot of trouble fulfilling two of the mandatory item gathering quests in the beginning. Amongst other things, they ask you to hand in around 8-10 “Animal Bones” Having searched for most of the screens in the forest and even having to delve deep within where the enemies are much tougher, I’ve literally found a grand total of TWO spots which RARELY produce the desired material when searched.
You’re almost certain to gather every other item on the list outside of said Animal Bones and it makes you wonder if they accidentally asked you to collect Unicorn Horns instead because I’m pretty sure those would actually be less rare than Animal Bones in this game.
Eventually, I got around this by simply attempting to get one particular spot to respawn its item multiple times until I finally collected all of them…
Which reminds me… so by the way, you can’t just repeatedly search a single spot over and over if you’re just looking for one particular item that you really want a huge quantity of. I have no idea what triggers respawning of items, because some spots seem to respawn much quicker than others… as far as I can tell, it seems to be “number of other items gathered” or maybe “numbers of screens traveled”
In this game’s defense, I’m almost certain the people at the bar are telling you about where certain ingredients can be found… so perhaps there’s actually a super secret technique I could have used to collect Animal Bones more effectively! But I doubt it.
Annoying, annoying annoying, but eventually the task is done (after hours for me…)
This guy’s your Alchemy Teacher. I just wanted to point out that he’s one of the few male characters that doesn’t have a scary face. Also, because…
Unlike other Atelier heroines who learn from the school of Hard Knocks, Adith has to PAY for her Alchemy classes, which come in sessions of 2-3 days. So I guess this is sort of like Princess Maker.
A little… they’re cutely animated.
There’s really only 2 different kind of lessons so far – which seems to be “Theory” and “Practical” Alchemy… what’s the difference…?
Well, the library contains a bunch of books and your “Theory” stat determines whether you can read it at all, which allows you to learn a couple of recipes per book.
Honestly I think buying and reading the books themselves is more satisfying but eh…
The “Practical” stat is for actually crafting the item, of course.
And of course, there’s the Atelier staple job board where you give someone items and they pay you for them… kind of nice that they put a picture of the desired item right there, early Atelier games just display the names instead, so that’s another interface advancement before Atelier does it… small victory though.
So can we FINALLY go get some Alchemy done?
Mmm, yes, this interface does not look similar to anything at all. mmm.
Alchemy requires you to take off most of your clothes, apparently.
Once again, if you’re only experience with the Atelier series are the modern ones, it might shock you to know that crafting was pretty simple back in the early days.
You have the ingredients, and you have a percentage chance to craft, and you rolled the dice and that’s it. No traits, colours, inheritance, loops, quality or any form of super complex mechanics that would come to define Gust’s expertise at developing crafting systems in the future.
So I suppose in this case… I’m just going to call it a draw. Comparing its alchemy system to games that come 10 years later is a bit unfair unless you believe the creators of this game were time travelers.
So this is where my look at the game sadly ends, because I suddenly thought to myself “Ring of Jeebus, I gotta go out and endure the terrible battle system and collect ingredients again? NO NO NOOO NO NO NO…
Now, I’ll admit that this isn’t the most completely fair look at a game. For one thing, one strength of Atelier games, outside of the gameplay, have almost always been character interaction and this is something that is completely lost to me due to the language barrier.
The game DOES seem to have some kind of overarching plot going on judging from the CGs that seem to pop up once in a while… maybe this game had a good plot or something that might justify sticking through it…? But the gameplay system isn’t very fun to play and doesn’t encourage me to stick around for longer so there’s that.
That being said, I think it’s an interesting and weird look into a game developed in a foreign country whose games are almost entirely not talked about outside of MMOs with tons of grind.
The game just looks so much like someone wanted to recreate an Atelier game so badly that you do wonder about the thought processes that went behind it considering the country divide…
Guess it’ll remain a mystery though.
Tumblr picture dump – contains some images that didn’t make it to this post.