The seventh in the series, second to come out in the US, this turn based RPG is one of the easiest to play without the loss of the detail that one would expect for a game rated 10 and up. Implementing an advanced gauged battle system and the ability to play dual personas makes this game stand out from the average E rated RPG.Our story takes place over the span of 2 worlds, Eden and Belkhyde. Eden, a peaceful world where the humans and mana live together in harmony, is a place where alchemy is the main science and lifestyle. Eden resides within a series of islands in the sky. Felt and Viese, two orphans raised in the Eden Temple are not your average ‘warriors’. Viese is studying to become a full-fledged alchemist, while Felt would rather be out adventuring for the materials Viese needs. Felt has the capacity for alchemy as well, although we don’t find that out until later in the game.
Belkhyde, a world at war, is a place that Felt and Viese have only heard of. It is much larger than Eden, and built on earth and sea. Populated with humans and other creatures, this vast land is now not only beginning to collapse from the constant war, but is at the same time causing adverse effects to take place in Eden. On Belkhyde, alchemy is only mentioned in books, and is conceived as a ‘dark’ magic.
Within the first few stages of the story, we see Viese become the full-fledged alchemist she has always wanted to be. At this time she obtains a Share Ring. She and Felt go to explore the Belkhyde gate for clues as to what is causing the destruction of Eden. The gate has never been opened. They come across the Azure Azoth, a sword embedded in stone that no one could ever remove. Felt, of course, is the one who can, and in doing so activates the opening of the Belkhyde gate. Seeing this as his destiny, he and Viese go back to the Temple to get the advice of Viese’s master, and some supplies before venturing out. Once the first battle on Belkhyde has been fought by Felt, and Viese learns to use the power of the share ring, the game continues with both characters playable in each world. Felt stays on Belkhyde, and Viese will join him there in a later part of the story, but for now will remain in Eden to craft items for Felt to use in his quest.
There are six total playable characters, but only Felt and Viese share a common bag and cole, which is the currency of the game, through the Share Ring. If Felt finds a recipe for alchemy on Belkhyde, you can switch it back to Viese to learn instead. This opens up many more ways to support the entire team overall. The other four characters are Gray, a dragon who is your main tank, and Noin, who is a caster as well as a fighter, and usually accompanies Felt and Grey in Belkhyde. Fee, mainly a caster, is heavily relied on to debuff, and Poe is your guy for ranged attacks. You can tag in and out any characters throughout combat, except Viese, until episode 19, then Viese joins Felt on Belkhyde and is able to battle as well.
You can choose between 2 different kinds of attacks: the Break attack and the Charge attack. A successful charge attack will create ‘meter’. Meter is in reference to your Skill Meter. You can build up to 3 full bars of meter using the different characters in order to allow one character to expend a skill for a finishing shot, combo, or area effect. Over the duration of a battle it is possible to earn several meters to allow multiple high level combat moves. Six full meters would allow two characters to execute each a high level move, or three characters each one slightly lower level move. Break attacks will affect the enemy’s turn, therefore pushing the enemy back further on the turn meter. Once an enemy is “in the yellow” on the turn meter, it will become stunned. Using a combination of Charge and Break attacks allows you to gain meter and get in more turns, while lessening the enemy to a stun, then execute a combo or chain attack for the win! The use of the meter here is simple and easy to follow. There is also an Encounter gauge. This gauges random encounters in any given area. When this gauge is empty, you know that you have fought everything in an area, and may go back at any time and explore at random without any surprise attacks.
Gathering in this game is also very good. Items respawn if you exit a place and then go back later. You have the choice to either loot something, or extract its elemental power, or sometimes both. For instance, a barrel that may contain an item may have the power extracted, and then you can also loot it to claim the item. Some items can be expanded on to enhance them, such as a lootable plant; you could pick it and use it as is, or it may be doused with something special to make it grow into something more useful or rare. Elements are shared between Felt and Viese, and can be used in two different ways. Felt can extract elements and call on Mana Synthesis during battle, whereas Viese cannot until later in the game, but can use the element supply for True Sysnthesis. True Synthesis is creating something from nothing and Mana Synthesis is applying an element to something, like a weapon or gear. Viese is the only character that can perform True Synthesis.
Overall, Atelier Iris 2 has nice features for it’s rating. Even though it is generally easier than most I’ve played, there is still enough content to make it interesting to older players. The soundtrack is slightly more upbeat than normal for this genre, and there are nice anime cut scenes thrown in for effect. The game graphics are also colorful and detailed.
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