If you're out collecting items for alchemy then you're going to be getting in to fights. Thankfully Gust didn't ditch the on-screen enemies, so no random battles, which is always appreciated these days. Unfortunately the desire to enter combat just isn't there this time around, with battles that are a grind to get through, which is quite different from past Atelier titles. Every attack feels like an overly drawn out display, which is kind of contrary to past games that were all about speed and getting through combat quickly. Every combat action results in a camera cut, as if to highlight the attack, which feels superfluous and unnecessary. Battles are also quite difficult in the early going, with enemies in the third chapter that are able to easily decimate your entire party, and having only one character available to use items doesn't make things any easier. Only alchemists are able to use items, while others are able to use skills that can heal party members or restore status effects, or they can be special attacks. Skills come at the cost of hit points which can be restored with other skills that use hit points (spend 9 hit points to regain thirty or so? Sure!) or by spending days sleeping on the couch back at the alchemy shop.
In conclusion, Atelier Rorona feels like a very rudimentary entry in the Atelier series of games. It almost feels like I've returned to 2004 when the first Atelier title entered the scene on PS2, but it doesn't feel new in any way. It's incredibly simplistic to the point of being a negative, it just does not advance the series in any way. Combat is the opposite of what the series is known for, slow and downright boring to play. The characters are archetypes that feel incredibly shallow with no one but Rorona having what feels like a legitimate reason to be present. Worst of all, it just didn't feel fun, at all. Previous Atelier titles had a sense of magic about them that made them stand out more, whether it was the ridiculous school system in Mana Khemia, or the interesting combat mechanics of Ar Tonelico. There are a few moments where the story is charming and endearing but those feel like rare instances when you have to spend so much time wading through mediocrity. All in all I really can't recommend Atelier Rorona, but here's to hoping that NIS can bring out Hyperdimension Neptunia, or even Atelier Totori and perhaps they can turn around this string of lackluster PS3 titles.
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* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
A by the books experience that feels dated and boring long before it has a chance to even show a spark of interest. Atelier Rorona will only satisfy the most die-hard JRPG fans.
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