Could have been an enjoyable game, but the lack of interesting elements from past titles and repetition make it boring.
- character models are 3D;
- it focuses more on Alchemy and less on fighting.
Things that this game lacks:
- you're limited to a three-members party;
- you can't switch between party members during battle.
This was what made previous Atelier Iris and Mana-Khemia titles battle system interesting: having more than three members on your party and being able to switch between party members during battles was what made it so flexible and powerful.
It's true Alchemy here matters more than fighting, but it would be a good thing if, when you encounter really though monsters, you could have members on your bench to call on when in trouble.
Also, grinding is grueling, because you receive very little exp.
You may want to switch over to a much more difficult map with tougher enemies when it becomes accessible, but you're in for a headache, since monster difficulty may vary A LOT between areas and sometimes there's a steep difference in level from one area and another; the reward in exp is of course, much greater...if you manage to survive.
The Alchemy system, compared with those from previous titles, feels as though it has been overly-simplified. There are no Manas and Elements here, so there's no longer the need to become skillful in using them, or at doing timely button presses so the synthesis won't get messed up picking the wrong Element. Also, there's no branching in recipes, so the recipes you acquire won't change if you mix in a different ingredient.
The list of ingredients is much shorter, too.
Now for the issue with graphic. It's a shame the beautiful cell-shading of character models only apply to characters.
After a while you won't notice, but it's weird at first, cause you're playing on a PS3 and character models look just like you might expect on a PS2 and the rest looks and feel like stone-age 3D modelling from the times of the N64, but the feeling is you're actually playing a 2D game, since when exploring you're limited to a set track and there's no branching, no side-tracking, no-nothing; and of course you can't rotate the camera freely, since everything is pre-rendered.
But what might make the game really frustrating, at a certain point, is its repetitiveness with Assignments, which show very little or next-to-none variation, and the stiffness of deadlines.
Done the first few very easy Assignments, then deadlines will become cumbersome, since it'll feel like you have a ton of things to do and little time to do them, just like in real life.
You may want to raise your characters' adventurers' level, or try and trigger as much character's events as possible, but most of the time you'll be stuck synthesizing something or other for an Assignment, and of course this will take up your time (and HP)!
Overall, I'd assign a score of 6.5 to this game, since it lacks many of the elements that made previous Atelier Iris and Mana-Khemia titles interesting, while not been outstanding as a game of its own.
It's still an enjoyable game, but it feels kind of outdated for a PS3 title.