With fifteen core installments as well as numerous spin-offs and remakes, the Atelier series is undeniably prolific, allowing players to explore the intricacies of alchemy since its Japanese debut in 1997. Stateside, the fruitful role-playing franchise has enjoyed a growing following, thanks to poignant plotlines and an ever-increasingly intricate set of play mechanics. In anticipation of the release of Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky on March 11th (European gamers get the game on the 7th), we spoke to Nao Miyazawa from acttil, who answered a few questions about the game.
Tech-Gaming: The Atelier series and its spin-offs haven’t seen a game with multiple protagonists since 2003’s Atelier Marie, Elie & Anis ~Message on the Gentle Breeze~ (Edit: @Rarutos points out that Mana Khemia 2 had two protagonists) Can you tell us a bit about each hero and the bond the two share?
Nao Miyazawa from acttil, representing Atelier Escha & Logy for Tecmo Koei America: Escha (Escha Malier) is a newly appointed officer at the Development Department. She is a mostly self-taught alchemist, and she uses an ancient style of alchemy that has been passed down in her family for generations. Logy (Logix Ficsario) is a young official transferred to the Development Department from Central City. He holds the ability within him to merge swordplay and the “new” style of alchemy. These two meet at the Development Department for the first time. Overcoming their distinct personalities and managing to build a strong friendship is one of the enjoyable aspects of having two main characters! Also, their special skill during the battle, Double Draw, is a lot of fun to play around with!
T-G: How different is each hero’s journey? Will there be different endings for the two characters?
Nao: The primary story progression is basically the same between the two, but players can enjoy the characters’ different views and perspectives regarding events. For example, players will be able to see what Logy thinks and how he feels he should react to Escha when they first meet in Logy’s story. Players see his reactions, but won’t really know what Escha thought of him or that situation. So when the player opts to play the Escha story their second time around, they will see Escha’s first impression of Logy in more detail. Even if you follow the same basic story, you’ll see a difference in how you perceive the events depending on the character you select. Logy’s story tends to be a bit more serious than that of Escha because of his personality, and this reflects on the story itself. There are some sub-events that are specific to each character, so players will definitely want to play as both characters! There will be multiple endings to achieve, too.
T-G: Can players expect any characters from Atelier Aeysha to make an appearance in Alchemists of the Dusk Sky?
Nao: There are some characters from Atelier Ayesha in this game! So those who played Atelier Ayesha will be able to see some familiar faces in Escha & Logy. Even if the actual characters do not appear in Atelier Escha & Logy, there will be some references to characters from previous titles, too. This way, players can get a small update on how those characters are doing! For those who haven’t played Atelier Ayesha, they can definitely enjoy the story and game without requiring any previous knowledge of the characters and story because this story is independent from the previous title.
T-G: Not long ago, GUST was acquired by Tecmo Koei. One of the developments of this merger is that Alchemists of the Dusk Sky uses the Dynasty Warriors engine. Will that mean that Escha & Logy plays remarkably different from previous franchise installments?
Nao: Players will definitely see a difference in the battle scenes, which have become even more seamless and fluid. The character models look gorgeous, too! Overall, the graphics have improved a good deal. Also, thanks to the Dynasty Warriors engine, the game’s load times are noticeably improved. That said, the player’s gameplay experience should be more pleasant overall!
T-G: Have any notable changes been made to the game’s battle system?
Nao: Players can have total of 7 characters in their party in Escha & Logy. 3 characters fight on the front lines, 3 are in the back, and 1 character acts as backup (meaning 6 characters will be in the battle party). Players can also change the characters’ placement, or add characters to the party at any time (no need to be at HQ to change your battle party)! The support gauge is now shared among all characters, which means that it is now much easier to activate. The characters can level up to 99 in Escha & Logy, whereas previous titles had a Level 50 cap. There will be lots of strong enemies to fight as your level rises!
Also, even if you use synthesized items during the battle, the items will automatically be replenished once you return to town. That means that you don’t really need to worry about using and losing your items during battle! When you play the game a second time with a different character, you can carry over not only your money and equipment, but also the items you gained from the previous playthrough, under certain conditions. There are more new changes to the battle and synthesis systems, so we hope you will find out what’s been added and improved on in Escha & Logy!
T-G: Traditionally, urgency has been articulated in the Atelier franchise by a pressing timetable. How forceful is the scheduling in Atelier Escha & Logy?
Nao: In Atelier Escha & Logy, there will be assignments every 4 months. You’ll have to complete the assigned tasks by the given deadline. Unlike the previous entries, Atelier Escha & Logy is more lenient with its time management, so you should be able to schedule out how you’ll complete the task, conduct thorough searches, and perform a whole ton of syntheses within each deadline.
T-G: Undoubtedly, one of the most rewarding components of the franchise is the alchemy system? Can players expect any changes to this mechanic?
Nao: There have been some changes made to the alchemy system. The new system gives you more options and freedom with synthesizing and creating new items. That may sound like it’s gotten even more complex—by giving players even MORE options—but it actually helps to make the system simpler and more fun. Even newcomers to the Atelier universe will be able to get the hang of the system without feeling left out. There will be tutorials to help everyone out, though!
T-G: Recently, it was announced that Alchemists of the Dusk Sky has inspired an anime from Studio Gokumi (The Ambition of Nobuna Oda, Kiniro Mosaic). Will the plotline duplicate or advance the plot of Atelier Escha & Logy?
Nao: There have been several discussions to make the Atelier series into an animation in the past, so to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Gust, they are very excited and happy to finally be able to make Atelier Escha & Logy into an animated series! How the plotline will be adapted in the show hasn’t been announced at this time, but more information will be revealed soon enough!
T-G: When Atelier Escha & Logy was released in Japan, first print copies received a digital voucher for Mana Khemia 2. Are there any plans to replicate those rewards for stateside adopters?
Nao: Unfortunately, there will be no voucher code for Mana Khemia 2 included in the US and PAL versions of Atelier Escha & Logy. However, there are preorder bonus costumes from GameStop and Amazon!
T-G: a few final questions: who handling the game’s localization? Will Atelier Escha & Logy provide dual audio?
Nao: acttil has been working on the localization for Atelier Escha & Logy. And yes, there will be both English and Japanese voice overs!
Thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to talk about Atelier Escha & Logy!
T-G: Thank you for your time, Nao!