Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings DX – PS4

It’s the last time to get all mysterious! Atelier Lydie & Suelle is the third and final game in the Mysterious Atelier trilogy (The first; Atelier Sophie was reviewed over here and The second; Atelier Firis over here) This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Atelier series (There’s quite a nice promo site for the event in May here) so why not kick off 2022 with a review! It’s time to gather some ingredients, mix them up, fight some monsters and see what we get in the finale to the Mysterious trilogy.

Atelier Sophie left me quite surprised why anyone rates this trilogy so highly but Atelier Firis was such a huge significant step up that I had high hopes that Atelier Lydie & Suelle would be even better. For the most part Atelier Lydie & Suelle starts off strong. It once again does the nice trick of moving the camera from the title screen into a new game when selected and sets up the characters of Lydie and Suelle nicely. It’s frustrating to go back into such a long winded tutorial for mechanics that are second nature by now but I can see people jumping into this game alone and in a Pokémon sense of appealing to new players, Atelier Lydie & Suelle does a good job of explaining all of the mechanics quickly and concisely.

Atelier Lydie & Suelle is a lot more like a classic JRPG than Atelier Firis was. You’ll be travelling the city, getting quests and chatting with characters then heading out into small linear areas that connect and unlock more with items. The alchemy, gathering and combat have all been refined and everything feels exactly what you’d expect from a generic JRPG for better and worse. There’s always something you could be doing and extensive journal entries for everything. Although everything is functional and clicks well together there doesn’t feel like there’s anything particularly unique or standout it all blends into one.

Everything does look fantastic in Atelier Lydie & Suelle. Despite the questionable clothing for characters; the menus, colours and world all have a flourish that look like the artists really enjoyed making it. The painted worlds have borders to add to the bizarreness and as you change them the designs and colours adapt. There is plenty of text to read and it’s thankfully clear and easy to do so. As with Atelier Firis the cutscene animation is a little janky but for the most part these don’t consist of more than talking and walking around. There are key moments shown with art you’d expect to see in Atelier games but these are a lot fewer than you’d expect.

Despite the main characters being the pair of Lydie & Suelle you’ll spend most of the game controlling Lydie (Dressed in purple). Suelle (dressed in yellow) follows you and has more options in combat with her pistols but your main for alchemy and items will mostly be Lydie. This fits with their personalities as Suelle is somehow construed to be a tom-boy for liking guns and Lydie a bookworm for not liking anything physically demanding. Despite the eye rolling moments the chemistry and dialogue between the two is surprisingly enjoyable with a lot of the best writing the Atelier games has had in years.

In a way, it’s a shame the dialogue is so good because the story and cutscenes progress at such a ridiculously slow pace that you’ll skip by most of it. Despite having numerous endings and a lot of side quests to see through to a characters ending you’ll spend a lot of Atelier Lydie & Suelle wanting to focus on the adventure loop. Picking up the main quests, going through the motions and seeing the conclusion. The core gameplay loop is the same as with other Atelier games but the wandering dialogue between the characters is surprisingly funny and snappy typically referring back to a previous cutscene. The combat is simple turn based stuff and the alchemy is the same as the past two with more effects in the colour matching thrown in to try and spice things up.

As with every Atelier trilogy, Atelier Lydie & Suelle has returning characters from the previous games in the trilogy. Sophie and Firis not only pop in as a cameo but become integral to the plot. The new characters are a lot more interesting than the previous games and thankfully despite a reliance on fleshing out Ilmeria (the rival alchemist in Atelier Firis) as a teacher for Lydie & Suelle the new characters have enough flair to make the interactions something to enjoy. The ‘rivalry’ with the successful and talented Lucia is right out of any slice-of-life anime and the obvious friendship between her and Lydie & Suelle is one of the games highlights.

Atelier Lydie & Suelle feels like a lazy days anime throughout and even thought the story tries to deal with death and poverty it really doesn’t seem to ever look closely enough to mean anything significant. The sisters are largely abandoned by their useless father throughout and the energy to get through every trial and issue regardless feels much a lot like magic girl anime energy. The ambitions the characters have act as side quests but even these fit that same slice-of-life vibe with Suelle wanting to appear more pretty and Lydie getting more muscle but both resulting in a little jokey cutscene where nothing really changes. Almost every side quest is resolved with everyone shaking their head and carrying on.

As with Atelier Sophie & Atelier Firis this review copy of Atelier Lydie & Suelle and the Mysterious Paintings DX came with a separate artbook app and just like the past games this feels like a bonus for die hard fans. Just like the previous Digital Art Book, the app is a simple slideshow with a few music tracks and some nice artwork to look at. Just as before you cannot take any screenshots or footage so I’m not sure who this is for. The artwork is nice enough but you can see this if you purchase an art book and soundtrack for the game. You can even find a few tracks for the soundtrack on the official YouTube page here.

Despite the shorter story length than a usual Atelier game there’s a lot to explore and collect in Atelier Lydie & Suelle. There are multiple difficulties and multiple endings. Once again Atelier Lydie & Suelle nails the music and sound effects by being a JRPG that you could watch clouds to. There’s something incredibly relaxing and wholesome about the scores the Mysterious games have and Atelier Lydie & Suelle has a fantastic one. The Japanese voice cast do a good job of covering everything and if you sliced the audio out of the game and layered it over an anime about girls creating a band from a garage it would fit incredibly well.

Atelier Lydie & Suelle is an odd Atelier, on the one hand it has some fantastic writing and enjoyable the dialogue but on the other it’s the most by the numbers and a pretty dull experience. There just isn’t anything gripping or urgent in the story. Other than seeing more interesting interactions there isn’t a drive to unlock more items and despite the combat being a nice turn based system there’s not a lot that requires much thought. It’s a really great JRPG if you want a basic experience that’s light, enjoyable and doesn’t do anything to make you think or focus too hard. Atelier Lydie & Suelle is an Atelier for a day where you are too tired to think and just want to see two sisters do better than their parents ever could.

7/10 – The Mystery was the friends we made along the way

Code provided by Koei Tecmo Europe Ltd. Check out their games here

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