Atelier Ayesha Review

A game about little girls for little girls such as myself. I wish.

Chances are that if you’re reading this website, you’ve at least heard of the Atelier series. Taking a break from the Rorona/Totori/Meruru universe, Ayesha starts over with a brand new world to explore, making it an excellent entry point for those of you that wish to initiate themselves to the esoteric art of meth cooking ALCHEMY. Like its predecessors, Ayesha is a turn-based RPG and as carries with it the cultural baggage of the whole genre. If you dislike traditional JRPGs, there isn’t much in Ayesha that will sway you. However for fans of the genre it successfully manages to be refreshing while keeping true to its roots. And this is achieved through Alchemy. The entire game really revolves around this mechanic: it’s the main tool of eponymous character Ayesha to not be completely useless in combat, but it’s also how you make money, solve sidequests and get better gear. In fact, most if not all the actions you undertake in Ayesha involve Alchemy in some way. If you’ve played an Atelier game before this is probably no big reveal, but as a newcomer to the series, I find the need to stress the prevalence of this concept and dwell a little upon it. Luckily for us, Gust has had close to 16 years of experience making Atelier games, and it stands to reason that they would concoct something both accessible yet possessing the depth necessary to keep players engaged after dozens of hours. And in that regard, they have succeeded.
At its core, Alchemy is simply a matter of following a recipe and dumping a couple items in your cauldron in order to make a newer one. The complexity comes from the choice of ingredients, which all have different quality rankings and special properties, which can sometimes be passed on to the created item. The system is crafted well enough that it’s absolutely straightforward to create a big stockpile of mundane items (heal pots, bombs, etc…) while at the same time allowing enough flexibility to allow players to tweak more important items to their liking. However, as varied and abundant as your recipes are, you are still constrained by them. There will be no throwing random items in the blender and hoping for something to happen. There is also no failure in crafting, a design decision in line with the “everything is just peachy” feel of the game. And that brings us to the next point: the plot.

In addition to consuming items, Alchemy requires time. Item gathering and traveling also necessitate this precious resource. The whole game is on a time limit: you, young anime-years-old Ayesha, are on a quest to save the soul of your younger sister. She only has a mere three years left and you must manage your time well if you want to save her. Except I didn’t. At the time of this review, I’m either looking at eternal damnation for my sibling and a “Game Over” screen or a completely rushed, borderline non-nonsensical Gainax end. I’ve spent a disproportional amount of time doing everything but investigating how to save my sister. I could blame myself here, but instead I will say it’s the game’s fault. Jokes aside, there is surprisingly little to stress the storyline. Things sort of happen as you run around the world: you meet new people, a bakery opens next door, some monsters overran the mine, … It really helps create the impression of a living world, but the downside to that is that it’s not clear which events are noteworthy, and I ended up blowing off this one NPC who I apparently needed to talk to for an entire year while doing other stuff. While the idea that I made this poor girl wait a year at a location I could’ve reached in 10 days is kind of funny, the realization that I had “wasted” a year was less so. I use quotation marks because, well, I enjoyed myself doing sidequests and I do feel like I played the game as intended. The characters and dialogue are as vapid and cliched as your average anime, but the game is supposed to be lighthearted, which it executes very well. It’s refreshing to see this lack of impeding doom and destruction in a genre that is rife with them.

The graphics follow the same philosophy: the artstyle is gorgeous, the environment feel alive and colorful, and as one-dimensional as the characters’ personalities are, the overall character design is cute and cheery in a non-nauseating way. It’s not all rainbows and sunshine though, especially in the animation department. Characters move their legs and seemingly glide on the ground, mouths are a’flappin’ when the voice actors are done talking, and perhaps worst of all, the framerate drops when a lot of NPCs are present. Considering a lot of your time is spent running around the main city, this happens often enough to be noticeable. It’s not game-breaking, but it irks. The areas aren’t even that big, which is another letdown. The limitations of the engine are quite noticeable, especially when one hits one of the all too common invisible walls marking the transition between two areas, which are for the vast majority extremely linear, if all very beautiful. It’s always a pleasure to enter a new lush and vivid zone, and I can only let out a sigh when it turns out the whole place can be cleared in 5-10 minutes.

And the majority of that time is spent running around and gathering, as combat is extremely easy. At the time of the review, none of my encounters have taken more than two full rotations of my party, even the supposedly difficult hunts. As such, it’s a challenge for me to write anything at all regarding the fighting mechanics. A typical battle usually only lasts long enough for me to toss a kerosene pinata and watch as it engulfs the cute bunnies and unicorns and whatnot in flames. Make note that this isn’t as huge a flaw as it might be in a more traditional RPG, where fights are pretty much the main gameplay element. The relative ease of combat also helps make the game less grindy. In fact, I never felt the need to grind for anything, really. Due to the way items are categorized, it’s usually more worthwhile to go explore new areas for materials rather than go back and search for a specific one in a previous location.
The whole experience is accompanied by a lithe and charming soundtrack, in line with the the overall tone of the game. Gust even added a music box option in crafting areas which allows you to listen to themes from the Arland series. I haven’t played those games so it means nothing to me, but the gesture is welcome and I’m sure long-time fans will appreciate. However, long-time fans are certainly less grateful for the lack of Japanese audio option in the game. Apparently, Japanese voices are de rigueur in Atelier games, and omitting them is a huge faux pas, to which I can only answer: c’est la vie. It’s regrettable that they have not included it, but it has never been a de jure standard and it defies logic to penalize Gust for what is, in the end, a purely optional feature.



-Beautiful artstyle
-Alchemy is expansive and engaging
-It never feels like you’re grinding


-Framerate drops
-Combat is lackluster
-No option to tinker with alchemy; set recipes must be learned
-(Too) Easy
-Areas are very limited in scope

Atelier Ayesha soars on the wings of a few very good ideas while a thousand trivialities peck at its feathers. However, even their combined might are not enough to bring down a solid and enjoyable game from the spot it deserves.
Final score: 7/10

Posted by Kyhz under PS3, Video Game Reviews | Permalink

8 Responses to “Atelier Ayesha Review”

  1. weilshiet says:


    >not mentioning the lack of jap audio


    • Kyhz says:

      >I mention it 10 lines above


      • unnxandros says:

        and added some french phrases there. Plus, the dub is pretty good, since it was handled by NISA and they did a pretty good job in the Arland series.

  2. Tyson says:

    >Isn’t Ayesha an African-American name?

    Wouldn’t doubt it. Probably spelled like “Eyesha” if so.

  3. Plasmacannon says:

    >Beautiful artstyle

    Picked up, Moe is enough reason to play Atelier series.

    >Lack of Japanese audio option

    I take it back, though Gust usually has good dubs.

    Maybe i will pick it up if i had the time and space, thanks for the review.

    How long it took you to complete it?

  4. Recently says:

    TK fucked up huge by not adding Japanese audio. Luckily they wised up and made sure Atelier Totori Plus on the vita included it.

    The series has gotten progressively more lenient when it comes to time-restraints IMO. (that and maybe i got more used to it). Efficient/early use of Chims is really important; i remember ignoring them completely the first time i played totori for example, and got the bad end in that my first play through.

  5. toplel says:


    >little girls

    Too gay for me.