Atelier Dusk Trilogy Deluxe Pack

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4
Genre: RPG/Strategy
Release Date: Jan. 14, 2020


PS4 Review - 'Atelier Dusk Trilogy Deluxe Pack'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on June 25, 2020 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Atelier Dusk Trilogy Deluxe Pack includes Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk DX; Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky DX; and Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea DX, playable for the first time on current consoles, taking advantage of the improved system hardware to deliver high-resolution graphics and smoother gameplay.

The Atelier franchise is one of the longest-running RPG franchises on the market. New games come out every two years or so, and they all share a lot of basic concepts: creating items, fighting monsters, and cute outfits. They also vary their concepts and settings often. For instance, the earlier Arland Trilogy followed the original three games set in the kingdom of Arland, each following a different alchemist. The Atelier Dusk Trilogy Deluxe Pack is comprised of three games — Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk DX, Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky DX, and Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea DX — and the trilogy is probably the best JRPG collection on the PS4.

The Dusk Trilogy is set in a shared postapocalyptic setting. The world is slowly decaying and falling victim to a deterioration known as the dusk. Each game follows an alchemist (or alchemists) and their friends as they explore, attempt to use alchemy to change the fate of the world, and make a lot of delicious-looking cakes. They also represent a true trilogy, where the last game in series, Atelier Shallie, ends with the unified group coming together for one final quest. The ending of the trilogy isn't necessarily conclusive, but it ends on a good enough note to be satisfying.

Each game in the trilogy continues the mostly lighthearted atmosphere of the "normal" Atelier titles despite the grim setting. It's full of cute costumes, silly jokes, and an emphasis on helping people and making friends rather than dwelling on the darkness. To be honest, I find that the subtle hint of darkness adds a nice touch to the general Atelier atmosphere, since it gives the games a focused goal to encourage you to find the best outcomes.

The basic gameplay in the Dusk trilogy follows the familiar Atelier loop. You go out and explore in order to get ingredients, which you use to craft more powerful items, which you use to explore more dangerous places to get more powerful ingredients. By the point of the Dusk games, the developers have effectively gotten this down to a science, so the core gameplay doesn't really change much between titles. Perhaps the biggest difference is that in Ayesha, you explore a large world map and craft on the go, while in the other games, you have a home base.

The Dusk Trilogy also marks a significant turning point for the Atelier franchise, which means that all three games are significantly different. Atelier Ayesha, the first in the series, skews the closest to the previous Atelier titles with a focused time limit and set of goals. Atelier Escha & Logy massively reduces the time pressure to the point that most people will probably have an excess of time when finishing it. Atelier Shallie removes the time limits entirely, making the series more relaxing to play than the Arland Trilogy, but Escha & Logy hits the mark with the subtle pressure of a time limit without being too punishing.

The alchemy system in all three games is rather different, once again marking a trend from the older Atelier games to the newer ones. Ayesha's system isn't too different from the Arland trilogy, but by Escha & Logy and Shallie, you're seeing the beginnings of the "puzzle" alchemy systems that are used in modern games. The good news is that the alchemy systems in all three titles are fun and addictive in their own ways. The fact that they shift so much helps to keep the games from feeling repetitive. They may have the same gameplay loops, but you're doing things so differently that it doesn't feel tiresome.

The combat systems, on the other hand, are extremely similar. They are focused on rapid turn-based combat with a heavy emphasis on controlling enemy turns and swapping party members. Ayesha's is the most basic, but each of the sequels adds more ways for your party members to support and contribute to battle, even on the sidelines. By the last game, you're unleashing insane combos where every party member performs super attacks and obliterates everything in their path. They're solid and well-paced combat systems, and the only real flaw is that it gets repetitive over the course of three games.

It should be noted that none of these titles is particularly difficult. Just finishing the game and getting the generic "good" ending can be easy for casual players. There are some superbosses and rare special endings that require a lot of optimization. For people who love min-maxing, there's enough in the games to stay busy, but it's not required for people who want to spend time making pies and talking to their adorable anime friends. The final bosses can be a leap upward in difficulty, but by the time you get there, you should have plenty of options to power up without too much effort.

All three Dusk games are built on the same engine and look similar. They have brightly colored and charming character models who are the focus of most cut scenes. The environments are relatively nice, but they looked basic on the PS3 and certainly haven't improved noticeably on the PS4. They're not bad, just a bit lacking. However, the soundtrack is phenomenal. Most Atelier titles have an excellent soundtrack, and the Dusk games are no exception. Between all three games, you'll find a bucketload of amazing songs for exploration and battle. This trilogy contains most of my favorite songs from the entire Atelier franchise, and considering how good the music is in the series, that is saying something.

The Atelier Dusk Trilogy Deluxe Pack is expensive, but that $90 is probably the best JRPG bang for your buck that you can get on the PS4. It contains three excellent games that all offer a huge amount of content. None of them are flawless, but they are charming, cute, and incredibly easy to pick up and play. If you're a fan of the Atelier franchise or are just looking for some light, casual JRPGs to play, this is the collection you want.

Score: 8.5/10

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