My introduction to the Atelier series was actually the first Atelier Sophie game. I got interested after playing the game, Warriors All-Stars and seeing the character design for Sophie. When I saw that Atelier Sophie 2 was announced, I was instantly interested in going back into the story through the eyes of Sophie once again. I was also excited to hear that turn-based combat was making a comeback so my hype for this game was extreme! Did this game live up to that hype? Let’s find out.
Game Name: Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream Platform(s): PC (reviewed), PS4, Nintendo Switch Publisher(s): Koei Tecmo Games Developer(s): Gust Studios Release Date: February 24th, 2022 Price: $59.99
Atelier Sophie 2 begins at the end of the first game, where we find that Sophie is still trying to help Plachta find a way to return to her original body. Luckily there is a pretty good little summary of the first game that will help you understand the relationship between Sophie and Plachta and everything they went through that led them to this game. As they are searching for ways to return Plachta to her body, they stumble upon The Dream Tree. This tree opens a portal and they stumble into a Dream World overseen by Elvira. This Dream World has people from all sorts of different time periods who get pulled here in order to get fulfill their dreams before getting put back into their respective times.
The first question I will answer you are probably wondering is do you need to play the first game to play this one? Honestly, it is something important that you do play the first one to understand this one, ultimately what you are getting into. The first game introduces mechanics to alchemy that gets heavily updated in this game. The sad part is the tutorials don’t always explain everything you need to know in order to get past certain requirements in the story. Trying to go straight into this game without playing the first Sophie game will make the Alchemy sections extremely difficult. That is why I wouldn’t recommend playing this game without playing the first game.
This game has a pretty consistent loop. You have a problem that needs to be solved, so you have to create something with Alchemy to solve it. After the object is created you then get into story sections that have cinematics and will want you to go somewhere. Along the way, you will find enemies to fight and materials to collect and gather. It is extremely important to create the tools to gather resources such as Pickaxes and fishing poles early on in order to grab things as soon as you can. You will be incentivized to collect everything you can but at the same time, you need to be smart with what you need. You have a limit to the space of materials you can have in your alchemy basket. You can dispose of them into your Atelier once you get the basket full, but it’s important to keep going back to drop off your materials anytime you hit a fast travel spot in case you want to gather more resources. My issue with the Atelier games is I want to collect absolutely everything just in case it has a better quality or a different element that would help an item that I can craft. I also like to have an abundance of resources in case I need to use them.
One thing I really enjoyed was seeing was that the turn-based combat made an appearance. Ever since Atelier Ryza made combat a little more real-time, I was worried the other Atelier games would follow suit. Luckily that was not the case here. Atelier Sophie 2 not only brings back turn-based combat it also amps it up a lot. You get three main party members and three support party members. When you are under attack you can use the support members to come and shield the character that is being attacked which will make them shift places. You can also combine attacks with a support party member which will also result in them switching places with the main party member. You will be switching party members back and forth quite a bit in combat. It makes the combat more engaging due to this mechanic alone.
Enemies also have aura guards that defend better against certain elements or get damaged more easily against other ones. When an aura is taken down you have a few turns to do some serious damage to the opponent. Usually, this results in keeping harder hitting moves for when the enemy is stunned and is no longer guarded by an aura.
If It Isn’t Broke
The stylistic art of Atelier is still here and the graphics still look very nice. One small gripe I have is how the character’s models are just focused on their default clothing. You will get a lot of customization options but it doesn’t fit with a lot of the characters because their model is framed to run, battle, walk and even move with the weight of their original clothing models. It is a bit of a small gripe but it is noticed by me pretty early on when I tried to switch Sophie into the clothes of Ao from Blue Reflection. It does look good on Sophie until she starts to walk or utilize her moves in combat. It just feels weird to have her elbows at the angles she has when wearing her longer robes of an alchemist.
The game itself does look good but the engine that Gust Studios uses in this does not feel well optimized for PC experiences. Originally I started playing the game at 1080p with my Nvidia RTX 3060 graphics card. Frames would drop for almost no reason between loading the areas for the first time and would have to get running before it got to a stable 60FPS. I eventually turned the resolution down to 720p just so I could play in full-screen mode, with a much solid framerate. Otherwise, combat animations, and especially the combination moves look fantastic and have very nice effects. I really appreciate the love the aesthetics have gotten and the world itself. This truly is a dream world with fantastic visuals. All of the landscapes feel carefully crafted, with each location having its own unique feel, such as the great snow levels and even tropical rainforest areas.
Atelier Sophie 2 definitely is a project of passion. We learn a lot more about Sophie, her attraction to Alchemy, and her love of helping people. There are even characters you meet in this dream world that would be difficult to meet any other way. Which also adds a lot more character to Plachta who we only get to see this way thanks to them putting the game into the dream world. This game is about 50-60ish hours long if you want to enjoy the world and gathering elements. You could probably speed through it in 30-40 hours though if you knew where everything was. It is well worth the bang for you buck. If you want to enjoy a more upbeat game that has dark elements to it, this is the one for you. Just try to find the first Sophie game to get the Alchemy mechanic down pat. I want to point out that this game is only fully voiced in Japanese with English subtitles.
I enjoyed my time with this game! I loved diving back into the world through the eyes of Sophie.
You can purchase Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream on PS4, Nintendo Switch, or PC.
Review Disclosure Statement: Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream was Bought by The OuterHaven for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please go review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.
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Atelier Sophie 2 adds a lot of new features that help engage the players of the previous Sophie title. Combat feels fresh with the support party member mechanics. One problem is the alchemy system needing prior knowledge of previous games to succeed.
welcomed new advancements to combat and the Alchemy system
Upbeat with plenty of fantastic visuals and landscapes
Great character moments
Weird optimization issues
Will need prior knowledge of mechanics to succeed in the new ones