I discovered the Atelier series with Atelier Rorona. The game didn’t look very great in 2010, but I knew I had just unearthed something amazing, that would become my favorite series this generation. Four years later, Gust uses a youth potion on its very first HD title.
Atelier Rorona is a lot more light-hearted than the following Atelier games : no world to be saved, no hideous monster to repel, no member of the family is missing, just a tiny shop to keep afloat by making and delivering alchemy objects for the kingdom and the people. The interest therefore lies down to the vicissitudes of Rororina Fryxell, young apprentice left to do all the job by her lazy master. Although the unscrupulous minister Meriodus will constantly try to get in your way, but it’s always in a humorous point of view. More than ever, it is your own affinity with the series that should dictate your choice.
One of the points of this remake is the change in graphics to make the game more modern. Not quite like the spectacular jump made in Atelier Escha&Logy, Rorona + borrows the 3D engine from Meruru + with more or less success. Dungeons are still unimpressive, but water is well rendered. Most characters are really well made ( Rorona, Cuderia, Lionela, Esty, Totori et Meruru), but Sterk and Astrid are pretty much failed imo. Animations have improved tenfold and do have very nice effects. In short, the title is quite correct for Vita, but maybe a bit weak on PS3.
As for the game system, and it’s actually surprising, Atelier Rorona + is not totally up to date. Understand by this that you still have to use MP for alchemy, which is a hassle, costs a great deal of time and makes your sortie with Rorona having low MP! In parallel, you also will be paying your companions. Okay, it matches with some joke thrown in Atelier Totori, but frankly I would have tolerated incoherence because paying friends is plain stupid. While annoying, those details don’t weight that much given the qualities of the remake.
More importantly, alchemy and battle make a time travel to Atelier Meruru +. Changes made for Dusk series (Ayesha, Escha&Logy) are not taken into account : alchemy is back in hardcore mode in which ou have to synthesize each object one by one, although with the possibility to register some in shops in order to resupply faster. Alchemy consumes a lot of time and deadlines are the same as before (up to 1 month in the game). It is hard to achieve balance between alchemy, delivery, battle and gear-making. Furthermore, popularity and cash appear incompatible, which is a real problem by the end of the game. Despite that, the main story is not difficult to clear since there’s a great deal of tolerance on objectives. Fights lose the possibility to flank enemies, but are still dynamic enough thanks to the return of assists in full. It is strategically still way above average compared to other RPG s since you have to make your own stuff from scratch. That said, events looked difficult to trigger : in Dusk, it’s pretty natural to reach each characters’ ending, but here event flag conditions seem atrociously complex and far-fetched. It’s almost like you have to progress with an eye constantly on walkthroughs.
Last but not least, Rorona + adds a long chapter after the main story : in the wake of another of Astrid’s failed experiments, Meruru and Totori and sent in the past. It’s quite a nice idea and a real pleasure to have the three heroines in the same team, but the highly punitive difficulty level is likely to make a lot of people kill time in the atelier.After 7 hours drawing blueprints of weapons, armor, accessories, potions, clocks, and at least as many utter defeats, I had to throw the towel. There’s still a lot to be done of the main story, and the race to ultimate strengh and flawless strategy is still hypnotic. To conclude on something more positive, let’s stress that Rorona + has in-game quite some well-crafted outfits, and a additional character for the main story (Esty like she appears in Atelier Meruru).
Atelier Rorona + is a very good remake : a lot richer than the original, it is also quite satisfying visually speaking. In fact, maybe it’s the game itself that looks a bit old-fashioned after Dusk or the Arland sequels. Consequently, it is destined for Atelier veterans.