Atelier is a huge series of games. Atelier Ryza 2 : Lost Legends and The Secret Fairy may have a ridiculous title but it’s the 22nd entry in a series that feels like the formula has been refined to the point where you’ll know roughly what to expect going in. The first entry for each trilogy will be an experimental JRPG with new systems and mechanics with a core focus on alchemy. The 2nd entry will build on this and add in more systems and the 3rd entry takes everything previous and rounds out the trilogy ready for the new entry into the Atelier encyclopaedia of games. Going into this I had no previous experience of Atelier Ryza 1 but plenty on the series, the only knowledge of Atelier Ryza 2 I had was from Tokyo Game Show last year with the ridiculous cosplay moment (see more about that here) Is Atelier Ryza 2 worth buying? Let’s mix up some items and see what happens!
The core gameplay loop in Atelier Ryza 2 is where it really shines, when you get going everything feels like a great Atelier game. You’ll be exploring large areas, collecting and harvesting various items, taking them back to the atelier, synthesising new items, learning new recipes and unlocking new areas as you progress. The story continues from Atelier Ryza 1 but you don’t need any prior knowledge as this is a new adventure in a new location. It’s fairly by the numbers but there’s enough to keep you exploring and adventuring throughout. There are systems within systems in Atelier Ryza 2 and one of it’s strong points is how well paced it is for a huge game. You’ve your regular JRPG tropes of combat, fishing, collecting, levelling and exploring but Atelier Ryza 2 feels like it took these basic elements and has refined them to a tea. The pacing for everything throughout is impressive as Atelier Ryza 2 makes sure you’ve got a handle on the basics before unlocking the next system or mechanic.
Atelier Ryza 2 has a really enjoyable combat system which is good because you’ll be fighting through a lot. Each encounter has you timing your attacks on a timer cooldown and chaining skills and items with your allies to build up meters that allow you to attack more. You can switch between characters or simply let the Ai control them in a support or attacking role. Although the simple fights feel fairly grindy when you get into a big boss battle and you’re getting into the rhythm, keeping an eye on meters and timing everything to pay off, it’s fantastic fun. Each combat encounter gives you traditional EXP which levels up your characters and you can improve stats with equipment. As you explore a ruin you’ll need to comb every inch of it to collect clues that fit together to make a completed picture of what happened there. This all works to gain Skill points which you use to upgrade gathering, synthesising and learn techniques and recipes. It becomes a balance of exploring fun, tedious grind and superbly fun battles against stronger foes.
Let’s get the biggest problem with Atelier Ryza 2 out of the way. The character design is simply ridiculous. There are some ridiculous camera angles (especially when crawling) and there are far too many cheesecake moments that will have you rolling your eyes. I realise the fanservice aspect is one thing Atelier games can sometimes push for but it’s frustrating as the potential with some of the designs is obvious. Ryza herself could have been a character using prosthetics instead of a singular glove and boot. Serri we could have been a character who’s ornate clothing was for more than just her top and it just feels like there are a few missed beats with all of them. Ryza is often leaning forwards and posing during in-game scenes and it jars with a character that feel well written and artwork that continues to be amazing. The animal companion you can ride is beautiful and there’s some definite highlights despite the bonkers missteps. The animation can be clunky at times during cutscenes and the random world weather can rain so heavily that some scenes characters will be chatting away during torrential rain with semi-translucent clothes as if it’s a normal Wednesday afternoon. The style can only be described as a little too much over-over-over the top.
There’s clearly a lot of love for the characters in Atelier Ryza 2 as every party member has fleshed out extra scenes with an impressive amount of voiced dialogue. This Atelier game changes the formula in the best way with Atelier Ryza 2 having a single story ending and no time limit, this results it a less stressful experience to see it through. The sound of the summoning whistle for your animal companion is ridiculous but for the most part the hits and explosions are fine. What’s a real delight to find is that Atelier Ryza 2 has some of the most mesmerizingly peaceful music of any JRPG ever made. It really is the best “calming” music I’ve ever heard in a JRPG in years and I found myself just chilling to the rhythms from time to time, humming away as creating another bulk of cloth or ingots. Even if you don’t think this game is for you I really recommend you check out the OST it’s an absolute gem.
Atelier Ryza 2 is simply ridiculously in scope. Not only do you have all of the side quests for each character but there’s the option to build up your reputation with Citizens, Bandits, Artists and more in the city via side quests at the Café. You can morph items you normally synthesise into new recipes, upgrade and customise your core gems for using items in battle, complete monster challenges and even unlock and change the layout of accessories and furniture in your atelier. Even when you think you’ve seen all the core mechanics a new character will be introduced and with it a new set of different abilities in combat to get to grips with. You can try to get through it as fast as you can but there’s always going to be more to get on with. It’s best to pace yourself, explore until your basket is full, quick travel back to drop off the items, speak to the characters and then quick travel back. It’s a snappy loop that is really fun.
Every time I’ve gone back to Atelier Ryza 2 I’ve had the same feeling, it’s a fantastic launch title that will be classed as a hidden gem in years to come, despite its flaws. Atelier Ryza 2 runs fine on the PS4 but the weather changes, lighting effects, large amounts of reflective surfaces and huge areas are clearly built with the PS5 in mind. If you want a JRPG that will take you months to finish, more content then you expect and a story that’s very cookie cutter but enjoyable enough then Atelier Ryza 2 is for you. Just be aware there’s a fair amount of cheesecake here and if that’s too much, simply listen to the soundtrack and look at the artbook. Atelier Ryza 2 is a really enjoyable adventure with just a dash too much fanservice.
8/10 – The secret ingredient isn’t a lost legend but a melody
Code provided by Koei Tecmo Europe Ltd. Check out their games here
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