Gust’s Atelier series isn’t showing any signs of slowing down; Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland is the twelfth installment. And lucky thirteen entitled Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Twilight Land will be in Japanese stores next week. We probably won’t get that game until next year, but that’s okay Meruru’s adventure will keep you entertained until then.
The Story – Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland tells the story of a princess named Meruru. She wants to become an alchemist so she enlists the help of Totori (the last game’s protagonist), but to practice alchemy she must agree to help out her kingdom.
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Title: Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland
Release Date: 5/29/12[/toggle_box]
- Alchemy Rules – It’s all about the alchemy. Synthesizing items quickly becomes addictive, and if you aren’t careful you’ll waste lots of time trying to craft the perfect item. You can assign different traits to your items and better ingredients equal better items. Most of this game’s fun comes from finding new recipes, searching for ingredients, and them cooking them up in Meruru’s huge pot.
- The Clock’s Ticking – You only have a finite amount of time to carry out your goals; this means you’ll have to choose wisely when it comes to accepting quests. This adds a bit of urgency to the game’s otherwise relaxed narrative.
- Meruru & Friends – Meruru is a little goofy, but she’s likable. The same goes for the entire cast, their personalities aren’t the most unusual (once you’ve seen one tsundere you’ve seen them all), but none of them are what I’d classify as annoying.
- Development – Meruru is a princess and it’s her duty to make sure her kingdom is flourishing. You gain development points by completing tasks and once you have enough you can build new facilities in your kingdom. There’s some strategy involved, you have to constantly weight the opportunity costs of building one thing over another. Plus you have to stay popular among the townspeople, without them you’re going nowhere fast.
- All The Pretty Colors – The production values are a step above the previous game. The graphics look crisper and there are a few nice effects. It has that living anime look and a plethora of pastel colors.
- Previous Experience Isn’t Required – You can still enjoy this game if you haven’t played previous games in the series. There are a few cameos, but the story can stand on its own, though, if you want some background information check out the included prologue.
- Go Kill Four of XXXX – Some of the quests are a real chore, but this is natural. Find me a JRPG without fetch quests and I’ll give you a $1,000 (obvious lie, but you get the point).
- Okay Combat – The battle system has been improved since the last game (it feels more fluid), but it’s still a little on the shallow side. If you’ve ever played a turn based RPG then you know what to expect. You won’t fall asleep while fighting monsters; you’ll just want the battles to end quickly so you can go back to gathering goods. Like I said earlier — it’s all about the alchemy.
- Chatterbox – Sometimes the characters don’t know when to be quiet; a few conversations left me feeling exhausted. Meruru’s attention span isn’t as short as she thinks.
- Not For Every JRPG Fan – I don’t have any major gripes with Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland, but I realize that some will find the game underwhelming. If you crave the standard “let’s go save the world from some super-evil dudes with bad hair” JRPG then this isn’t for you. Like always, this series is targeted at a niche within a niche.
Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland is better than it’s predecessors, and thus it’s easy to recommend to everyone who played the previous games. But thanks to a story that can stand on its own, you can also pick this up if you’ve never heard of a place called Arland. The wonderfuly deep items crafting system, developing your kingdom, candy coated visuals, and the calm atmosphere will keep you coming back for more.
[box_light]We believe that the score is the least important part of a review. It’s tough trying to assign a numerical value to an experience. Furthermore, is there really a difference between a 7.5 and an 8? Gamers place too much importance on arbitrary numbers. This is why our scores are hidden by default. Only look at them if you absolutely need a number between 1-10 to see if a game is worth your time. You can read our review guidelines here. A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.[/box_light]
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Replay Value: 8
Great – Many strive for greatness, and fail. Not this game, it looked greatness in the eye and lived to tell about it. We recommend purchasing it.[/toggle_box]