Coincidences don’t often happen, but the probability heightens when it comes to video games. You’ll once again be able to join Ryza and the old crew on a new journey if you were craving another Atelier Ryza game, or just want to see what all the hype is about.
Three years after the events of Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout, Ryza sets out to the royal capital, Ashra-am Baird. This is after she receives a letter from her friend about ruins that could be related to alchemy. Mysterious stone in hand, she’s now faced with a housing problem that pushes a secondary objective upon her.
The central plot point that unfolds doesn’t differ much from the first. There will be many character events in the form of cutscenes full-voiced in Japanese for players to enjoy. Autoplay and skip features have been a blessing in disguise for those who wish to stop mashing that A button. Sometimes autoplay isn’t the best feature to enable as the reading waiting period delay can take away from dramatic moments.
Do You Need To Play The First Atelier Ryza?
You don’t need to play the first game to get the gist of this sequel; however, it’s better if you do. This is because there is no story recap. There will be relationships that have already been established between characters that you’ll be jumping in the middle of. There will be cutscenes that reminisce their past selves, and of course, they will bring spoilers from the first game.
Atelier Ryza 2 doesn’t stray far from its original roots. You’ll once again have to explore ruins, fight monsters, and save the world from the unthinkable. It feels like a true continuation of the first game but with new mechanics, minor adjustments, and a fresh set of content. Familiar faces return with the introduction of new ones.
Similar to the first game, Atelier Ryza 2 heavily focuses on exploration and the gathering of materials. There’s still a limit to the number of items you can gather throughout the land. However, it never evolves into a tedious experience because of the ability to fast travel. You’ll be able to quickly transport yourself back to your Atelier to offload these materials and return to the map’s entrance to resume your gathering.
Traversing the map couldn’t be better
Each time you open the map, you see a legend. It clearly identifies each central point to make navigation a breeze. The difficulty does spike up when the compass is activated. However, traveling through the area again to collect memory fragments could have felt barebone without this shortsighted vision.
Motion is as good as it gets. You’ll be able to see Ryza bend down to forage materials, swing her axe, and crawl through tiny holes. The developers have certainly done an extraordinary job to make this work. Although not needed, swapping between character models in the overworld and having the adorable little creature, Fi, visually follow you around would have been remarkable additions to the experience—petting Fi would have been a plus.
Fragment Collection and Exploration Diary
New to Atelier Ryza is the Exploration Diary. Each ruin has a set of memory fragments for you to collect. Collecting them all will allow you to fill a chapter of the Exploration Diary and unlock their goodies. Failing to check the rewards and fill out the diary can cause a halt in progression. This is because some of the rewards are essential to advance in the story campaign. It’s one of the easiest and only ways you can get stuck when playing the game.
Filling out the Exploration Diary can either be intriguing or boring. Depending on the type of person you are, you can have a good time filling in the blanks by matching the pieces that make the most sense. There’s no penalty for incorrect matches. So, those who do not want to waste their time with it do not have to. You can simply collect all of the lingering fragments and match them by trial and error. Completing each ruin’s page leaves generous rewards to help the protagonist with her alchemy.
Atelier Ryza 2 introduces several new methods to gather materials in the game. The most notable is a ridable mount you’re now able to summon. Riding this creature comes in handy more than you may be able to imagine, while the materials it finds are even better. Another of the new methods is questionable as to how it’s even feasible. It’s possible that alchemy has a role to play in it.
Gathering materials in the game remains relaxing like the first. Although the effect could have died down if you recently played the first game. It’s convenient to swap between tools. Now you’re able to get a preview of the materials you can acquire before executing an action. This makes it easier for you to decide what goes in your basket and what remains as is.
You’ll often hit the basket capacity in the game. Sometimes you may not want to restart the area from the entrance, eliminating fast travel as a viable option. Mass discarding from your basket is a little disheartening. This is because you must relinquish each item individually. However, it improves when you hit your maximum capacity. Veteran Atelier players will be at ease knowing that each material’s full details are displayed when deciding which items to discard.
Atelier Ryza 2 maintains its turn-based combat with real-time elements. However, the developers have pushed it a bit further with the addition of an interactive defense mechanic. Party members are now able to defend themselves from most attacks. Similar to the previous title, a gauge informs you about each enemy’s turn. Paying careful attention to this and the enemy’s movement on the screen is key to defending yourself from attacks. You’ll have to press a button on incoming attacks to protect your current party member from the attack successfully. It’s an impressive addition to make combat even more interactive. However, you may only find yourself using it in the tougher difficulty modes.
Newcomers will still be able to utilize the key combat elements from the previous game. Skills, Core Crystal Items, Action Orders, and Fatal Drive all return in the latest entry. There’s always a lot taking place on the screen during these fast-paced battles. It can get overwhelming at times—but that’s a good thing. The large number of flashy moves you’re able to utilize rarely gets old. If they do, you can simply change your party members to keep things interesting. Whether you use a character or not, they’ll all grow in level with the rest of the party. This makes everyone a viable candidate at any time to change between.
The game retains the 3-character party with an additional backup slot that wasn’t available in the first game. You’ll still be able to interchange control between these three characters. However, you can also exchange one of your front liners for the one set backup character. Switching immediately activates a Shift Skill to add to the madness that goes on during combat and get some extra damage in on your enemies.
The game has three initial difficulty modes and two that you unlock upon finishing your first playthrough. The initial three difficulty modes are the standard set you would usually find in any RPG: Easy, Normal, and Hard. You unlock the ‘Very Hard’ and ‘Charismatic’ difficulties when you finish the primary story campaign. These newly unlocked difficulty modes aim to push you to the limit with the experience you’ve gained throughout your first run to see how well you can manage.
You won’t often find your HP dropping in the Normal difficulty unless you’re clashing with the enemy for the first time. The Hard mode offers more of a challenge where you’ll be put to the test with the game’s interactive mechanics and crafting the best gear you’re able to. You’re not locked into any difficulty mode when playing. So, you can adjust the difficulty level to your preferred setting whenever you desire.
Crafting plays a significant role in Atelier games, and it’s no different with Atelier Ryza 2. The original synthesis system from the first game has received a chunk of new content, and it’s not only synthesis materials. New mechanics will become accessible as you progress further in the game, and the game made minor changes to differentiate it from the original. Learning most crafting recipes now comes down to using SP to unlock them from a Skill Tree. Recipes can still be morphed into new recipes in a similar manner to the first game, but it’s one of the many unlockable skills available through this new Skill Tree.
The basics of synthesis in the game aren’t challenging to pick up for newcomers to the series. The game properly cracks down on the system’s fundamentals, but you’ll have to dig deeper through the Help menu to broaden your knowledge. Fans of the Atelier series will likely find themselves spending hours crafting the best items they’re capable of making. It’s easy to indulge yourself and lose track of time trying to craft all of the available recipes at their best and expand this list. The game makes it clear that you’ll be spending a lot of time in your Atelier, and it wasn’t joking about it; that in no way means the rest of the game is lacking in content.
Minor Issues With Crafting
With that said, the system isn’t perfect. There are minor hindrances that make crafting inconvenient. Although filtering and sorting options are present, some crucial options are missing. As your recipe list grows, you may find that scrolling through it can be a nuisance. The ability to sort the list in alphabetical order would have been much appreciated. Switching to a different category tab helps to mend this, but only if you’re familiar with what you’re looking for. Jumping to a missing ingredient’s recipe from another recipe would have saved so much time, too; the current procedure demands the cancelation of your crafting project and resumes only when you’ve crafted the missing ingredient.
You’ll be able to accept two types of quests in Atelier Ryza 2. The main quests revolve around the various characters in the city who will need your help. There’s a decent number of these quests paced out well throughout the game. It’s not difficult to tell that the most effort has been invested into this type of quests out of the two. They come with their own cutscenes and aren’t as large in number compared to the alternative.
The other type of quests in the game can be accepted from the billboard at the Cafe. These quests are the usual jobs you’ll have to tackle with the intention of farming for money or gold coins. A fresh new set of tasks will replace the number of completed quests on the following day. You won’t ever have to worry about a dry streak and can accept as many as the game will allow.
One of the side activities in the game lets you customize the inside of your house. You’ll be able to change the wall, floor, rug, and accessories around the house. These items can be obtained through different means in the game such as completing specific quests or purchasing from merchants. There’s a lot of content offered here for you to get creative with the designs, but it may take time to obtain them all. Some will be costly early in the game which will make it tough to decide between important items and decor.
One of the biggest concerns you may have with Atelier Ryza 2 is with the playable characters. It can be worrying having to play an RPG sequel with the same characters all over again. You’ll be able to rest easy knowing that even though the same Secret Hideout crew returns in this game, they won’t exactly operate the same in battle. Tao has dropped his Hammer to learn the art of the dual blades; Klaudia now has a thing for archery; Lent looks a lot cooler than he did before, and his skills certainly show that he’s improved with the blade.
These changes don’t come without sacrifice. The developers have cut Empel and Lila from the list of playable characters, but they replaced them with worthy additions. You’ll be able to dive into the combat with three new playable characters, each with their own battle style. It’s intriguing having to learn the new mechanics of one of these new additions in particular, but it may not appease to everyone’s liking during the long-run.
It’s a little disheartening having Empel and Lila removed from the list of playable characters, but there is always the possibility they will be added as DLC later. Still, the three new character replacements are sufficient enough that you may not even miss them too much. Having more choices is always welcome, but the game already has more playable characters than the first game to warrant more.
The game includes a Photo Mode to give players more control over the surroundings if they so desire to post a screenshot to social media. You’ll be able to adjust filters, the time of day, depth of field, and much more using the tools offered. Adding in characters, moving them around, and making adjustments to their surroundings wouldn’t take much time to get accustomed to. The mode likely wouldn’t be fully utilized by most players, but there will still likely be a large number who would be pleased with its addition.
There isn’t much to do after finishing the game if you’ve already experienced most of what it had to offer. You’re given a choice between continuing before the last boss and starting all over again. The first option unlocks a hidden, stronger boss lurking somewhere in the world. While the latter allows you to restart your journey with most of your possession and achievements.
What you keep when you enter New Game+
- Gold Coins.
- Equipped weapons, armor, accessories, and core items.
- Shop development progress.
In addition to the above, you can unlock two new difficulty modes. The post-game content isn’t much to look at, but it’s at least something to let you continue playing.
In addition to the base game and early purchase costume DLC, Atelier Ryza 2 can be purchased in two bundles: the Digital Deluxe Edition and the Ultimate Edition. These bundles are priced at $71.99 and $109.99 respectively. While costly, these bundles add additional content to the base game.
Digital Deluxe Edition Details
- Kurken Island Gathering Tour: adds new gathering areas from the first Atelier Ryza game.
- Another Style Costume Set: three new costumes for each playable character.
- Summer Memories Costume Set: four new costumes for each playable character.
- Helpful Items Set: four items to help you early in the game.
- All You Need! Gem Pack: 100,000 free gems.
The huge amount of costumes from this DLC bundle seems to be the most noteworthy content. A lack of clothing in the base game is disappointing, but paying a few extra dollars will solve that problem. The helpful items and additional gems included aren’t too difficult to get. All four of those items are simple to craft and the gems are obtainable with some grinding.
Ultimate Edition Details
- Everything from the Digital Deluxe Edition.
- Season Pass: 12 DLC that will be released in stages.
A large chunk of extra cash will score you everything from the Digital Deluxe Edition bundle and the game’s Season Pass. The contents from this Season Pass are set to release in stages beginning March 2021 through May 2021. Some of the goodies to expect are swimsuit costumes, new crafting recipes, a new area (Keldorah Castle), a new high difficulty area (Flame Sun Island), and GUST’s ‘Extra BGM’ pack.
Graphics and Performance
You won’t find any high-quality rocks in Atelier Ryza 2, but what you will find is a gorgeous world filled with charming artwork and beautifully-designed character models. There’s a mixture of high-quality and low-quality assets, but the high-quality content always reigns supreme. Rain can look weird when it’s falling from the sky, but these minor setbacks aren’t enough to ignore the great visuals that have been brought to life for the rest of the game.
Similar to the first title, battles yield no lag. The developers have surely maintained the quality they’re known for. Especially considering that the game consists of multiple actions simultaneously taking place during a fight. The game runs smoothly in both handheld and docked mode on the Nintendo Switch. There’s a minor framerate drop at the Atelier when loading a save file, but that lag comes to a halt when playing further.
The game’s soundtrack is absolutely marvelous. The melodies included are good enough to keep you calm while exploring the various lands and ruins. They also help maintain the thrill of the battle and work exceptionally well to keep you on your toes. It’s no doubt that the composers who brought the game’s soundtrack to life did an astonishing job and deserve all the praise they can get.
Atelier Ryza 2 returns with a brand new journey that doesn’t stray far from its origin. It certainly has brought the band back together and expands upon what was offered in the first title. Although there’s still room for improvement in the synthesis system, it’ll still appease Atelier fans. With a difficulty level for everyone and more interactive combat, the game surely won’t disappoint as Atelier Ryza’s sequel.
Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy gets a 9/10.