In Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana, Klein, a young alchemist travels the world in search of hidden and lost objects of mana power. During his journey he is joined by Lita, a bash monster hunter with secrets of her own, Delsus, a wondering ladies man, and others. Eventually Klein’s journey will put him to the task of saving the world.Atelier Iris is made in a classic 2D style with rich colors and detail. The characters are drawn well and animated and done in a not quite chibi way of past role playing games. Backgrounds are full of detail, from shingles on roof tops to the stone roads and paths. The monster are just as detailed as the characters but fall to the palette swapping that happens in many role playing games. Spells and special abilities are not too flashy but are decent enough.
The music is rich as well, and has the right sound for each of the areas. The sound effects are what you would expect in a role playing game. As for voice acting the game is chalked full of it and it’s good too. The cast is the familiar Manga Anime team, they are responsible for the characters, the non player characters and the monsters. The acting is good, some of the dialog is cheesy but not too bad.
The game is a nice mix of both turn based and action role playing games. The combat system is the turned based part and provides the standard fair. When not in combat comes the action part, collecting items, over coming obstacles, and puzzles. As the game progresses you gain more abilities to use outside of battle. Also the game’s mana system allows you to make mana items in place of other game’s magic. You have to find a mana item and collect the correct mana energy before you can make these items to use in combat. You also have to find the various mana elemental spirits and have the correct ones to assist you in making mana items; you equip them onto your characters for added ability boosts. Also you can find throughout the areas items for non player characters to use to make new items for their shops. Whenever you get a new ability you get the option to watch a tutorial on how it is used. They are often amusing but well detailed and help with the game. If you skip one on accident you always have the option of watching them over. Lastly there is no camera control, for the most part it isn’t a problem but there are times when it would be handy.
There is plenty to do in the game, yet it is linear with extras such as item collecting and gathering monster data which can add more to the experience. Yet as with most role playing games there is a lack of replay value and save for playing through again for stuff you may have missed, there isn’t any real reason to play through again.
Pretty graphics and music, great voice acting and its mix of traditional and action role playing elements makes Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana a fine game. Yet its cartoony 2D look will put off a lot of players because it isn’t “cutting edge” so to speak and if you have that bias this isn’t the game for you. But if you love role playing games and don’t care how they look this is a game worth picking up. It the first game of the series to be released here in the United States, but it is the sixth game in the series. Hopefully more of Gust’s games will get published here for they are a nice change of pace.
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