Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4
Genre: RPG/Strategy
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Developer: Gust
Release Date: Jan. 26, 2021


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Switch Review - 'Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Jan. 26, 2021 @ 6:00 a.m. PST

In Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy, Ryza makes her triumphant return as the protagonist, making franchise history as the first character to take on the hero role in two successive titles.

Buy Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy

Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy is set three years after the original game. Ryza's friends have gone their own ways, and Ryza has been making her living as an alchemist. A letter from her friend Teo brings Ryza on a quest to a new land to investigate mysterious ruins, where she discovers and quickly becomes fast friends with a cute creature named Fi. Together, the two discover the truth of Fi's origins and the ruins.

Ryza 2's plot is basically a redo of Ryza 1's plot with a little fairy along for the ride. Atelier games usually avoid this by bringing in a whole new cast, but Ryza 2 brings back the whole gang. Combined with the fact that the story goes to very similar places, and it can sometimes feel like an enhanced version of Ryza 1 more than its own story. The new cast is drastically underused and just sort of exists. I used the original Ryza cast members more because they felt like they fit the story better. It's not too bad if you want to spend more time with the original Ryza cast, but I was hoping for something more.

In a lot of ways, Ryza 2 is a standard Atelier title. It follows the same basic gameplay loop of the recent offerings and is similar to its predecessor. You have a home base where you can craft items; in this case, it's an atelier in town. You can venture into the field to find synthesis material to craft items, which you use to craft better material. Along the way, you'll use alchemy to help people with issues and unearth some secrets. There isn't anything groundbreaking in this particular entry, but like the original Ryza, it's a solid place to start if you haven't tried the Atelier series before.

The titular Lost Legends are a series of dungeons scattered throughout the land. When you arrive at a ruin, you'll need to scout it and find specific items or defeat certain monsters. Once you do, Ryza's magical compass glows and highlights several memories scattered throughout the dungeon. Collecting them gives you hints based on the memories of ancient people, which you can tie to researched clues to create the full backstory of the area you're investigating. This rewards you with heaps of SP, which is a resource used to unlock new alchemy recipes and abilities for Ryza.

The system in Ryza 2 is simple but enjoyable. In essence, you match green-colored phrases in the clues to one of your gathered fragments, Occasionally, you get a curveball like a different word usage, but it's easy to figure out. I enjoy that this mechanic gives you the backstory and details about the location you're exploring, so it feel like an actual area and not just the latest dungeon. I wish there had been a little more puzzle-solving involved, but I enjoyed the attempt to give these areas some more depth.

Ryza 2's combat system is an evolved and improved version of the system in the original title. All combat takes place in real time, with the player having direct control over one character while the other two act automatically. Combat is built around three resources: AP, CC, and Tactics. A character's regular attack is weak, but it builds up attack points, or AP, which can be used on special skills to increase your CC meter and Tactics meter. As the Tactics meter increases, you can have longer attack strings and chain together various skills to create incredibly lengthy combos. Tactics build up the CC meter, which is spent to use crafted items. You can use up to three crafted items at once if you have enough CC to do so, and you can even perform special combos that inflict a massive amount of damage.

Combat boils down to building up AP and then spending that AP to power up your characters and perform attacks until you can unleash devastating swarms of bombs that usually obliterate enemies. As in the previous game, there are also special conditions you can meet mid-battle to activate special attacks, and you can swap between characters at any time. You can also spend AP to automatically use items without having to wait for your turn in case of an emergency need for healing or damage.

It may sound busy, and at first it feels slightly silly, but it's pretty satisfying. Once you're launching incredibly long combos and finishing them off with three nuclear-grade bomb explosions that basically melt anything in your way, you feel like all parts of the combat system work together well. I swapped between characters since battles got a little repetitive and I wanted variety, but that's a minor issue.

Of course, all that combat comes secondary to alchemy, since this is an Atelier game, and much like the combat, the alchemy in Ryza 2 is an expanded version of the original. Basic alchemy is simple: You are given a chart of ingredients, and you place items in slots to create an item. Each item has one (or more) elemental traits, and to get the maximum effect, you need to match elemental traits to unlock powerful bonuses. You can also create new items with certain combinations and create long synthesis chains to stack a ridiculous number of bonuses onto your gear.

Ryza 2 goes all-out in giving you ways to boost your creation's strengths. As in the previous game, you can reduce items into gems, which you can use to duplicate a crafted item, power up an existing item, or use elixirs to boost traits on a crafted item or double the effects of items so it's easier to craft strong equipment. You can also upgrade your gear, which yields large amounts of high-quality synthesis material.

If I have one complaint about Ryza 2, it's that it gives you too many tools to break the game. Making impossible super crafts is half the fun of an Atelier game, but this one gives you so much that I was regularly creating 999-quality superbombs with minimal effort, and I killed the final boss in a single attack. It's difficult to balance an Atelier title, but Ryza 2 could have been a little tougher so it would be more satisfying to create the best armor, bombs and weapons. It's hard to complain when the combat is easy, since part of the fun of Atelier is crafting the ultimate gear so that combat becomes easier.

Visually, Ryza 2 looks a lot like the first game, as expected. It's building on the same base that Atelier games have been working with for a while, and not a lot has changed. The models and environments are simple but do their jobs well enough, but it isn't a looker. One annoying thing is how the game handles depth of field. It converts a model to a low-res version of itself with a blurry texture on top, and it looked awful. I'm not sure if this is exclusive to the Switch version, but it's a distracting choice that I hope they do away with for the sequel.

Like all Atelier games the soundtrack is absolutely top-notch, with plenty of excellent songs that do a fantastic job setting the atmosphere. The voice acting is entirely in Japanese, and it does its job well enough. Since so much of the cast is returning, there isn't a huge difference between the original and the sequel.

Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy might not be ambitious, but if you enjoy Atelier titles, it's a solid and engaging experience. It's basically the original Ryza title, only larger and more polished. The Atelier franchise usually keeps things fresh with a new protagonist and cast for every game, but with the full cast from the original title, Ryza 2 can sometimes feel like a repeat of the previous adventure. This isn't bad, since the original Ryza was fun and the gameplay is solid, but it can sometimes feel a touch too familiar.

Score: 7.8/10

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