So I finally finished ‘Atelier Escha & Logy’ using both characters. So, as the name suggests, you can play as either Escha or Logy. The two alchemists join the R&D department of Colseit, and go about completing missions and creating lots and lots of items. Overall, I enjoyed it enough that my second playthrough as Logy wasn’t too painful. It’s the sort of game though that won’t appeal to everyone, as the main focus is on item creation.

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While you can play as two characters, it doesn’t affect the game a whole lot. Though Escha and Logy use different types of alchemy, that doesn’t affect what sort of alchemy the player can use. Depending on your choice of character, you’ll get different endings, and a couple of the scenes are different. You’ll also get a different ending if you complete the game with both characters.

The main focus of the game is alchemy. You spend a lot of time gathering ingredients, and synthesizing new items. The tutorial and guides within the game are helpful, and the assignments encourage you to experiment with new skills. There’s a lot of depth to the alchemy system, and the same item with different properties (which come from the ingredients you use) or effects (which come from the elemental points you use), can be quite different in terms of strength and effect. The game does a good job of introducing you to the system, and I think new-comers to the series could pick it up without too much trouble.

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As with other games in the series, every action you take in the game takes a certain amount of time. You’re given four months to complete a main task. Moving around the map, alchemy, fighting monsters and gathering materials all takes time. As well as the main task, you have 8 other tasks on the ‘inner square’, which you can see at the beginning of the assignment period. Once you complete these 8 tasks, plus the main task, the outer layer of tasks will open up. Completing tasks gives you rank points, which lets you unlock more research items, and also gives you certain bonuses, such as recipe books, and stat enhancements. I never had any problem completing the assignments within the given time frame. Despite this, I had a lot of fun filling out the assignments, unlocking bonuses, and getting my assignment completion stamps.

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While moving around and making items takes time, there are a couple of features in the game that streamline this process. Before leaving Colseit for the world map, you can equip search equipment to Escha and Logy. Each character has a limited amount of space, and each item takes up a certain amount of search equipment frames. When you return to Colseit, the provisions deparment will restock everything in your search equipment, so you don’t need to spend heaps of time always synthesizing basic bombs and healing salves. Later in the game you’ll also be able to get the homunculi to replicate certain items and ingredients in exchange for candy, which you’ll get for completing requests (killing monsters, gathering certain ingredients, and synthesizing items).

You can also use the ‘search gauge’ to instantly collect all items on the map, and save yourself some time. You build up the search gauge by fighting and gathering. You can then use it to collect all the materials on the field at once, fight a strong monster, or collect relics, among other things. Relics are useful as you can disassemble them to learn their recipe, and also to get rare properties to use in alchemy.

Now, on to fighting. You take 6 characters into battle, 3 on the front line, and 3 on the back line. Characters in the back line will recover their HP and MP. You can switch them with the front line, and also use them for support guards and support attacks. The placement of the character on the field determines who they’ll switch with in the back line. It generally works well, though sometimes the characters will move around when they’re attacked, or when you use support guard, and you won’t be able to switch them with the character you want, which can be annoying. The characters only have 3 skills they can use in battle, and I generally found myself using the same strategy in all the boss battles. I didn’t find the fighting especially challenging, but it wasn’t bad either.

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The tone of the game is more serious than the Arland games. The story is kind of loose. The assignments for each period are only tenuously connected, and the story doesn’t really pick up until near the end. There isn’t a whole lot of context provided in the game either – apparently the world is entering a period of ‘Dusk’, and this is bad. I only know this from the instruction booklet though, no one in the game mentions this, though they do talk about crops failing. I haven’t played ‘Atelier Ayesha’, so I don’t know if that story provides more background to ‘Atelier Escha & Logy’.

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Overall I enjoyed the game, because of the strength of the alchemy system. The story was a bit vague and the fighting was ok (though there wasn’t a whole lot of variety in the monsters). If you enjoy item creation games, I think you could enjoy ‘Escha & Logy’. There are a lot of items to create, and the effects and strength of them vary depending on the ingredients and skills you use to create them. The tutorial system is helpful, and even if you’ve never played an Atelier game before, you should be able to get into this game.

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