Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings is a turn based JRPG with heavy emphasis on collecting and alchemy. You follow two sisters, Lydie and Suelle who are living with their often carefree father. While looking around in basement, our protagonists are sucked into a mystical painting, which lets them collect unique items to be used in alchemy. This encourages them to take part in promotion exams as they aim to be called the best Atelier in town. On their journey, they spend most of their time fighting monsters and collecting materials while finishing quests for the townsfolk.
Combat follows a fairly standard turn based structure. Your party takes turns attacking multiple enemies on the battlefield and can utilize skills if required. You can equip weapons, armor and accessories. You roam around straightforward fields, fighting enemies and collecting material along the way, before heading home in order to report quests, do alchemy or to simply store everything you have collected. The battle system works, even if it is unremarkable.
Outside of combat, Alchemy forms the core of the game. It feels like a puzzle on it’s own, as you try to mix and match different materials in order to get the best results in an efficient manner. After selecting the material, you are required to take part in a grid like puzzle. Each ingredient has its own pattern which is defined by adjacent squares belonging to a color set. You must place them on a grid, while aiming to fill the entire board, thereby increasing the quality of the item. This process of puzzle solving is quite engaging, and finding the right combination is rewarding.
There is a daily structure to the game and time passes every time you perform various actions such as fast travel. As expected, quests must be completed within a certain time frame. Over the course of the game, you will undergo many promotional tests where you must prepare an item and present it with a certain level of quality. It helps in raising your rank which unlocks new recipes, characters and worlds to explore. The vibe is refreshingly different from other JRPGs, which is reflected by its overall charming characters and relaxing music.
One would hope that after so many years on the market the presentation would see a major overhaul for a new PS4 game; but the image quality, character models, scope of the world, and general assets are at par with what can be considered the bare minimum. The environments are shockingly bland and the movement feels stiff. While its clearly a lower budget game, they need to refocus so that future games look at least pleasing to the eye. Another disappointing aspect is the complete lack of an English dub.
Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings is a solid entry in the long running series. While its high time the visuals got a complete overhaul and the lack of an English dub is disappointing, the loop of collecting and synthesizing is well designed to the point of being addicting.