I have been a big Atelier fan since first noting the design of Sophie from Warrior All-Stars. If you want to read my whole story on becoming a fan of this series, take a look at my Atelier Sophie 2 Review. Seeing Atelier Ryza get popular and also get a third entry was amazing to witness! I had to be the one to try and get my hands on the game to review its third and final entry, Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & The Secret Key.
Game Name: Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & The Secret Key Platform(s): PS4, PS5 (Reviewed), Nintendo Switch, PC Publisher(s): Koei Tecmo Developer(s): Gust Studios Release Date: March 24th, 2023 Price: $59.99
Let’s get the first question out of the way; Do you need to play the first two games in the trilogy to play this one? If you want to be able to comprehend what’s going on in this story, then absolutely. This helps tie in a lot of the plot threads of Atelier Ryza 1 and 2. It expands on a lot of concepts that were introduced in earlier games, such as The Underworld. Characters have a lot of growth that will only make sense if you have played the earlier Atelier Ryza titles. Playing the first two games is a must to understand what is going on in Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & The Secret Key.
Atelier Ryza 3 starts in the third summer of Kurken Island when an earthquake hits the island unexpectedly. When Ryza and her friends look to see what caused it, they see a bunch of new isles pop up in front of the ports to the island. The citizens are worried since they were starting to do better with trade and relations with the rest of the Roteswasser Kingdom. As it turns out, there are starting to be several isles popping all over the world with similar earthquakes happening. The people of Kurken Island turn towards Ryza to help find a solution to this problem.
Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & The Secret Key is a departure from some of the other Ryza titles. Rather than linear paths to places that expand, it is a lot more open-world areas wherever you go. Ryza’s bigger thighs aren’t just for show, she jumps a lot higher and climbs a lot farther now. This is something she needs to do in this entry as there is a lot of ground to explore with the four main areas you will be exploring in this game. Ryza’s search for the reason for the floating islands will take her to new towns, regions of the world, and even back into the Underworld. Luckily with the next-gen adapted in this version, you will be able to fast travel to any landmark you have been to before at lightning speed.
The staple of Atelier games is here of gathering materials and using alchemy to create items or synthesize materials. This means for me that I have to collect everything. The more things you create, the more recipes you unlock, and the more SP you gain. SP is needed to unlock your skill tree. The skill tree has a variety of things you can unlock, increasing the quality of the items you gather, increasing your gathering level, recipes, the size of the basket you have while traveling throughout the regions, and even extra alchemic abilities while performing alchemy.
One of the most interesting things I spent a lot of time customizing was Link Morphing. Link morphing is when you put a different ingredient in the first effect slot, to change the first effect of an item, synthesis material, or equipment. You can make a bomb deal different elemental damage than fire, or change the main attribute of a defense item to speed or evasion. Accessories that I felt were not useful but had useful secondary effects were all suddenly very useful, and I could choose what I wanted them to do based on the ingredients I gathered.
Combat in Atelier Ryza 3 feels very polished. You have a Wait Time bar that is highlighted as a giant circle. When it is filled up you can then proceed to do a combo of normal hits, skills, or even normal hits that combo into skills. Skills utilize action points that will go up as you and your party member do normal hits with your equipped weapons. You also have a tactic level. The total tactic level determines the max amount of AP you can have bottled up at a time. You can use AP slowly or you can bottle it up and then unleash a flurry of skills all at once.
You will have two party members actively fighting with you and two party members max as support. You can choose to have them focus on fighting with normal moves or skills. You can also press the triggers to manually control any of your party members on the battlefield. As they do combos, prerequisites will show up on your screen from your party members such as “Deal physical damage”. Attacking the enemy with a skill that deals physical damage will then have your character flip the enemy into the air and they will get a strong hit that can deal serious stagger damage. You want stagger damage to reduce the enemy’s stun gauge. Once the gauge is down to zero, the enemy will be broken and stunned for some time. Stunned enemies will get dealt extra damage from skills.
Final Trip to Kurken Island
Atelier Ryza 3 looks gorgeous on the PlayStation 5. This game gets a huge graphical boost, not just in resolution but in design. A lot of the character models in this game look extremely detailed and have a lot of focus. Grass effects, trees, water, and pretty much everything in the terrain look amazing. Sadly, some areas when you first arrive have frame dips that you can notice. They don’t last long, but you notice them while running in some of the bigger areas.
I will say one thing I disliked overall is how the balance of difficulty changes. I played on the Normal Difficulty in the game. For the most part, I could make a few incremental changes to my equipment and fight normal mobs and get a few levels in every area. There were three places I noticed enemies started taking a lot of time to kill, not just bosses, but also regular mobs. The last section of Kurken Island, The Underworld, and the final dungeon. After noticing an enemy mob taking a considerable amount of effort to defeat, required me to go back to the Atelier and craft a bunch of new items to increase SP and unlock more weapon and armor recipes. Luckily my mentality of picking everything up made me have a big backlog of ingredients to just turn into accessories, equipment, and consumables. After reequipping my characters, I felt like I was more on par with the mobs of the area. Once I got to the boss was when I noticed I had over-equipped myself. This was weird to me because the mobs were still a bit difficult to kill but just didn’t take a considerable amount of effort to accomplish. Having the boss fall to me easily made me wonder why the enemy mobs were so difficult if the bosses weren’t as difficult as them. This made me have a mentality of just skipping a lot of the enemy mobs and going straight to the boss as a better spectrum of where the difficulty lies. For the most part, the bosses were easy, aside from two of them.
Overall I think Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & The Secret Key is a fantastic conclusion to the story of Ryza. The gameplay was addicting, gathering ingredients and making more and more powerful items was always an enjoyable experience. Even if the difficulty didn’t make much sense with mobs being stronger than the bosses in my playthrough, it had many emotional moments. I also loved the art and sound direction. This is a great game in the Atelier series, though I recommend playing through the first two games first. There is a prologue video, but man, does it not do the other two games justice.
Review Disclosure Statement: Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & The Secret Key was provided to us by Koei Tecmo for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.
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Discover the ultimate culmination of the Atelier Ryza series with Atelier Ryza 3: The Alchemist of the End & The Secret Key. This exciting conclusion boasts new quality-of-life mechanics that elevate the gameplay experience to new heights. Explore a world of alchemy and adventure in this must-play game.
Very little loading screens
Combat is refined and engaging
Move and gather at the same time
Bosses seem weaker than the mobs that surround them
Prologue video not very helpful for those who haven’t played Ryza 1 and 2
Open world setting allows for more dips in frame rate