Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey has a lot to unpack. In my brief time with the opening chapters, it’s clear that there’s multiple layers to the game and that’s not counting the open ended second half.
You begin the journey as Firis Mistlud, a young woman who lives in a mining town. Her unique ability is sensing the location of ores and minerals in the world. While her ambitions are to explore the world, she is held back physically with a huge stone door that stands at the entrance of the town as well as her parents refusal. This all changes once the protagonists from the previous game, Sophie Neuenmuller and Platcha, come on to the scene and introduce Firis to the world of alchemy.
Alchemy appears to be the main point of interaction in Atelier Firis as it serves as the moving point for the game’s time-limited first half. Using her newly learned alchemy abilities, Firis is granted permission to travel outside her village. With a catch. Firis must complete the official alchemy exam in one year, to gain permanent freedom. While I’m not a fan of time limits in games, this seems more natural than shoehorned in it’s premise. You can also adjust the difficulty to manage your expectations if things become too daunting.
Just about anything done in the game, whether exploring, fighting, crafting or even the act of walking expends time. It seems like the added time constraint encourages players to be learn the game’s systems and progress in an efficient manner. As you go about the world, you’ll gradually learn new recipes for synthesis in a way similar to Ignis’ cooking in Final Fantasy XV. Visiting a new area, using items, collecting resources will trigger Firis’s insight and results in unlocking with new recipes.
Visually, Atelier Firis is stunning with a mix of animated and in-game cutscenes to flesh out the dialogue and story. The cutscenes are voiced but speaking to townspeople occurs in speech bubbles and text reads. The music isn’t very memorable thus far, but this could change as the story progresses and different encounters occur.
That’s about it. This is a review in progress so look forward to a complete evaluation of Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey in a few weeks!