Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland for Playstation 3 has finally graced us with its presence. Much like the previous releases in the series, you take on the role of an upcoming alchemist who begins as an apprentice. What makes this series so unique are the tie-ins from previous sequels like Rorona and Totori.
This adds to the game’s overall appeal, especially if you have played the previous Atelier games. The biggest difference in this sequel is that the main character is a princess and she has far more obligations than any other main character in the history of the series.
There is a lot riding on Princess Meruru’s shoulders. Not only does she need to become a full-fledged alchemist, but she needs to take care of her kingdom. Meruru has three years to level from apprentice alchemist and to help her kingdom grow.
Everything Meruru needs can be created during the course of the game. This is done using item synthesis; there are many parts to the synthesizing process. You must harvest ingredients as you explore the world. Once you have acquired the necessary ingredients, you can then begin the process of synthesizing items.
The synthesis process requires a good amount of time and mana. Some items can take days to complete, so you will have to manage your time wisely if you’re on a deadline. Some orders have a set time and will require certain traits for the items.
The items you harvest in the world of Arland come with certain traits. These traits can be altered when combined with other items of different traits during the synthesis process. After synthesizing is complete, you can set the traits you feel are fit for each item.
But keep the following in mind: the more traits you add to an item, the more mana you will burn in the process. The less mana Meruru has during the synthesis process, the more it will affect the overall synthesis. This means the process can fail depending on the amount of mana Meruru has. The items you produce have a level. The item level determines the overall quality of the item produced.
Once Meruru’s mana has depleted, it’s important for her to take a break and rest. However, resting takes away valuable time that could be used for gathering, questing or doing missions for the kingdom. But hey — a Princess needs her rest, you know?
Meruru can restore her HP/MP/LP by resting on the sofa inside her workshop. Resting will also restore her party members. You can only have three members in your party, Meruru included. Atelier Meruru is a turn-based role-playing game that has an impressive combo system that allows you to perform amazing combos with other party members. The combos are impressive and very entertaining to watch.
There is a lot more to the game than crafting and harvesting. You must also help with the growth of your kingdom – the kingdom of Aris. As you grow as an alchemist, you can help your kingdom by developing farms and building structures that will help your kingdom prosper.
By developing facilities like marketplaces and extra lodging, you will help your kingdom’s population grow, making Arland a stronger nation. As this occurs, the land and the facilities that occupy these locations will grow, cleansing the neighboring areas around Arland.
Atelier Meruru is far more complex than its predecessors. There are more tasks to complete and there is never a dull moment while playing. Plus, smaller events occur during the main story; this prevents the game from feeling repetitive.
The map is divided into smaller zones to explore. Some zones are bigger than others, though. Each zone contains creatures to battle and items to harvest. One of the best features in this series is being able to see your enemies while exploring. This gives you the opportunity to fight or flee while harvesting items. Enemies that populate every zone drop items as well, so there are benefits to fighting.
Everything you craft/harvest can be stored inside a personal container located in the workshop. Anything stored inside the container is then organized into its own category; you are allowed to store up to 1,999 items.
Different shops and a wholesale store unlock as you progress through the game. Unlike other shops in Arland, the wholesale store allows you to buy items that you have already crafted.
You are only charged for the materials needed to craft the item. Plus, it will save you the time of synthesizing the items again. Even though buying from the vendor saves time, it prevents Meruru from gaining the experience she needs as an alchemist. If you rely on this vender too often, it will take longer to increase your alchemy level.
Atelier Meruru uses the same linear environments as its predecessors. When you’re out harvesting, there is always one way in and one way out of a zone. Some gamers may find the small environments confining, but I found this to be the complete opposite. The small zones have everything neatly arranged to help you harvest items quickly.
The graphics are some of the best in the series. The backgrounds are colorful and more detailed than in precious sequels. The music is upbeat and even comical at times depending on the situation. There is an option to change the in-game music to the previous soundtrack from Atelier Totori. The music can be changed anytime from the option menu when you visit the workshop.
Atelier Meruru is an entertaining JRPG (Japanese Role-Playing Game) that offers a great story and countless items to craft. There are not many role-playing games apart from the Atelier series that are built around a crafting system this advanced. And since the game is easy to understand, this means you don’t need to play the previous sequels in the series to pick up Meruru.
With a rich story and expansive crafting system, Atelier Meruru is the most engrossing and entertaining JRPG available today.
James ‘Daripp3r’ Pittaro
Platform: Playstation 3
Developer: Gust Incorporated
Publisher: NIS America
ESRB: T (Teen)
Price: $49.99 (Release date: 5/22/2012)
|Beautiful cell-shaded graphics.|
|Well composed music with a comical twist.|
|A fantastic role-playing game built around a very comprehensive crafting/gathering system.|
|The best in the Atelier series; a wonderful role-playing game that offers countless hours of crafting and exploration.|