ATELIER DUSK TRILOGY DELUXE PACK / DEVELOPER: GUST CO. LTD / PUBLISHER: KOEI TECMO / PLATFORM: PC, PS4, SWITCH (REVIEWED) / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
The Atelier games have been around since the late 90s and there are now more than 20 titles spread across several different sub-series. Finding a place to jump in for the first time can be more than a little bit daunting, but the Dusk Trilogy might just be the perfect introduction.
The three games included here (the 14th, 15th and 16th Atelier games, if anyone's counting) are set in a slowly decaying world following the catastrophic events of “The Dusk,” and each follows a different set of characters who all have their own deeply personal stories to tell. One thing they all have in common, though, is that they're all alchemists, and their individual quests will test their abilities like never before...
Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk, focuses on Ayesha, a herbalist whose sister has disappeared. Players control Ayesha as she travels the land, meeting some excellently-named characters (Keithgriff Hazeldine!), teaming up with friends to defeat monsters in typical JRPG-style turn-based battles, gaining experience and levelling up, buying and selling goods, gathering ingredients, crafting items and learning the ancient art of alchemy. The other two titles – Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky and Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea – play out in much the same way, although they offer a choice of two characters to control, both giving different perspectives on the stories that unfold, as well as increasing the size of your battle party to add some extra oomph to your attacks.
Beautifully drawn and animated, with some truly excellent music in a wide variety of styles, the Dusk Trilogy certainly can't be faulted as far as presentation goes. Some of the dialogue can grate at times though, and there's a fair amount of waffle to wade through (as well as some peculiar sexual tension between some of the characters, which wasn't quite expected!). But, on the bright side, these releases are ports of the enhanced DX versions, which allows players to speed up conversations as well as including all previously-released DLC.
Each individual title in the Dusk Trilogy is a self-contained adventure, but all three are based within the same universe. It isn't totally necessary to play the games in order, but playing them out of sync might mean that some aspects of the story might go over your head. The games get more complex with each instalment too (the crafting system – which you'll spend a lot of time with – can get particularly intricate) so, as with any long-running series, the best thing to do is to start at the beginning, learn the ropes and work your way through. A bumper package with an immense amount of content, the Atelier Dusk Trilogy Deluxe Pack will keep JRPG fans going for many hours.