PS3: Atelier Tortori: The Adventurer of Arland
Published by NIS America
Developed by Gust
Rated T for Teen
Oh Atelier Totori, how I wanted to like you more than I did. Prior to playing Atelier Totori: Adventurer of Arland my last experience in the series had been Atelier Iris, a game I really loved. Iris had great characters, fun dialogue, and a great adventure . Unfortunately Totori has so much potential yet ends up squandering it with arbitrary time constraints and dialogue so awkward that it made me feel uncomfortable while I played it.
Atelier Totori centers around a young girl named Totori and her efforts to obtain an adventurer’s license. The adventurer’s license is critical to Totori as she needs it to search for her mother who was an adventurer herself when she went missing years ago. The plot is simple and engaging enough to keep you drawn in and to see the game to its conclusion.
Atelier Totori is a classic turned based RPG. You are able to have 3 members in your party at all times. One of which is always Totori. Characters range from your classic bruiser named Melvia, to your swordsman named Sterk. All of the characters have special skills you can learn and are interchangeable, so your party will consist of the people who’s personality you prefer.
Totori can use alchemy to create materials out of gathered items, that in turn can be used to create weapons, armor and items for combat. The gathered items have quality grades and random attributes that in turn can be carried over to the items/armor/weapons you create so the scope of customization is practically unlimited. This is enough to make you want to explore the world finding material to synthesize and there in lies the problem of Atelier Totori. Unfortunately all of the things you want to do takes time and time is one thing you do not have.
To qualify for your adventurer’s license you have to complete a set number of quests, explore a set number or areas and/or synthesize a number of items by a given deadline. Each of these activities give you points toward your license and once you get your license you have to continue doing these jobs in order to rank up by yet another deadline.
There is so much to do in this game; items, weapons and armor to make, locations to visit, moments to unlock and characters to build. Each of these things take time in the game. In fact everything you do takes time. Walking from one area to the next can take days. Traveling to the capitol from your fishing village takes two weeks by carriage and three by foot. Need to gather item for synthesizing? Every time you gather from a gathering spot you lose a quarter of a day. (Unless you create an item that prevents this later on.) Even synthesizing the items you need can take anywhere from a third of a day to five days per item. Getting into battles? You’re losing part of a day. All of the things you want to do and more importantly NEED to do eat up time. Time becomes such a focus that it starts monopolizing up all of your conscious thought. You start focusing on your deadlines, busting out math to crunch days and synthesis time and then you realize, you’re not having that much fun. You start wondering if your Outlook calendar can be used to keep your game appointments. While it’s a unique idea it drew my out of the game world completely and made me wonder if I was actually doing this for fun.
By now you realize that the time itself is not the problem but it’s the deadlines that are given. Once you get your license and are on your way to leveling it up, you have until the fifth year to obtain your permanent version. If you do not obtain the permanent license it effectively ends your game. Once this happens you will view the “bad ending” in which you never even get a chance to look for your mother. I wish I had known this prior to starting. Once the game ends you can start again with only the weapons and armor you have currently equipped. All other items you had are lost and every character you have start back at level one and you begin the story again. Achieving the permanent license however will allow you to continue on with your quest and give you a chance at getting the “true ending.”
Graphically Atelier Totori is a very pretty game with its mix of hand drawn cut scenes and cell-shaded-esque graphics you can’t help but being lost in the world around you. The battle and background music is quite enjoyable and the voice cast does a reasonably good job even though some of the dialogue can be a little bit awkward and suggestive. The only real issue with the voice overs is that during the battle scenes you will hear the same 4 phrases about 100 times in the first hour of play. Overall the presentation is well done and a joy to experience.
With a quirky cast and an engaging story at it’s core Atelier Totori is solid game with a lot to do and discover. It’s just disappointing that the time constraints really cause you to feel like you’re rushing to get it all done and without a walk-through you have virtually no chance of discovering half of what this game has to offer. If you can get past all of these issues there’s a reasonably fun experience to be had. I just hope the next Atelier game can lose the deadlines and give a more rounded experience.