The Atelier franchise has long been one that suits the gatcha “free-to-play” genre. Thanks to the over-20 games that have been developed across two decades, there are an almost unlimited number of characters to draw on, and the core alchemy system that sits at the centre of Atelier lends itself to hoarding large amounts of resources. Gatcha games, too, rely on players endlessly collecting. And so, with the match made in heaven, now we have Atelier Resleriana: Forgotten Alchemy and the Polar Night Liberator.
I’m not going to give this a review score and such, because it’s free to download and I firmly believe that “reviews” are only there for games that cost something to access. However, I have been puttering around with it for the past week, and as a card-carrying Atelier fanatic, I feel obliged to share some thoughts about it.
The first thing that immediately stands out about it is the character art. Atelier Resleriana was always going to be “fan service” in the sense that you’re collecting your favourite characters from the entire Atelier series. I was over the moon that in my very first draw (using the free in-game currency that the game offers new players. I haven’t paid for anything yet) I got Meruru. Meruru is my favourite Atelier protagonist of all. By such a long way. I love Meruru so much.
What I was not expecting is that Resleriana is very much that kind of fan service, too. Team Ninja is listed as one of the developers, and that team must have been in a mood when they worked on this. Possibly because they haven’t had a chance to work on Dead or Alive in quite some time and have instead be tasked with the decidedly un-sexy Nioh and Wo Long titles. This is a digression, but imagine landing your dream job in Team Ninja, knowing what they used to develop, only to end up working on ugly demon monsters instead?
So, in short, Resleriana has a lot of bouncing, wobbling chests and perfectly-placed camera angles to maximise the male gaze. It’s not extreme, mind you. There are no swimsuits (yet), and while some of the girls (including the protagonist) have very short skirts there’s also an absence of panty shots… for now. However, it’s still decidedly fanservicey and after Atelier Ryza was surprisingly low-key about the fan service (despite the character having thunder thighs and a back-breaking chest), I was surprised – pleasantly so, you could stay – to see that Resleriana goes to town with that stuff.
Beyond the eye-catching characters, the rest of the game is also gorgeous, and aside from the menu UI being a little too cluttered with a very F2P interface, it looks the part for Atelier. Combat is cheerfully cute and classically turn-based as it pits you against the series’ iconic baddies, and cut scenes and worldbuilding are all rendered in nicely detailed 3D.
Atelier Resleriana is, however, very simple to play. Combat lacks the nuance and strategy of the normal Atelier games, and enemies tend to have a lot of health and take a lot of wearing down, presumably to ensure that you keep grinding to keep your character levels up and don’t rely on skill to get you through the game. Skill is anathema to gatcha games. But an even greater loss than the combat nuance is the alchemy system. In proper Atelier games alchemy is about carefully planning out ingredients to produce powerful and high quality items. Most of them work like a mini-puzzle game and really test your logical skills. Here you make a few mindless clicks and let the gatcha system do the rest of the work. In this area, more than anything else, Atelier Resleriana loses sight of the series heritage.
The other downer is the narrative. Atelier games have always been focused on the coming of age of the protagonists, and technically that’s the case with Atelier Resleriana too. But as adorable as she is, Resleriana is just an airhead and the game’s journey never manages to get deeper than her desire to get better at alchemy because she really, really loves alchemy. Along the way she gets to help people out and do heroic things and all that, but the thin narrative is spread over too much and really there’s more story being carried by the way the characters all have lollypops and those kinds of gravure scenes with them. Seriously, though, I know gatcha games aren’t exactly known for rivaling Shakespeare, but even in context with other gatcha games this narrative is perfunctory.
It’s a game with a lot of pretty girls, and therefore I don’t actually regret playing Atelier Resleriana, but, I mean, c’mon. Team Ninja was involved in this one and everything. Atelier Beach Volleyball would have been a far better way to achieve what this game blatantly sets out to achieve, without tarnishing the respect that people rightfully have for the Atelier alchemy and combat systems.
By purchasing from this link, you support DDNet.
Each sale earns us a small commission.