Hooray, the first PS3 game that I beat through! I don’t regret buying my PS3, even though I can see myself still having a single digit number of games for the system a few years down the road. Games for it are expensive and its not really the go-to system for RPGs, but I view that as a good thing because it means less things I have to spend cash on.
Atelier Rorona follows the traditional style of Gust’s early Atelier games where you play as a moe girl who has to become successful at alchemy in a certain time limit. The main character is Rorona, the pupil of Astrid, the owner of the alchemy workshop in Arland. Astrid is lazy and doesn’t do anything so the kingdom decided to give her workshop 12 assignments over 3 years to complete and if they fail then the workshop will be closed down. She is a troll and makes Rorona take over the workshop and she has to learn alchemy and make stuff for the assignments by herself. The game takes place over a span of 3 years and making things, travelling to dungeons and exploring said dungeons take up days.
The main point of the game is t0 synthesize items and to learn to manage your time. There are various dungeons that get unlocked at different times and you get new party members as the plot progresses (but your party members charge you every time you go to a dungeon with them), but fighting is pretty much optional with the exception of one assignment and there are no required bosses. (Grinding is recommended though, or else you will have to have pro monster dodging skills in assignment 10) There’s bosses you can fight deep inside some of the later dungeons, but they are really only need for a few endings. Battle system is standard turn-based system except that you only have an HP bar and skills cost HP instead of the usual MP. That either translates into “sacrifice self to damage enemy” or “infinite healing.” Rorona has weak stats, but she is the only one who can use items and items will do more damage than you. Enemies appear on screen and if you hit them before they run into you, you start the battle with your turn first. Overall, battle system is pretty dry and each character only has like 3 skills. There is no final boss.
Item synthesis is much deeper than the battle system, thankfully. You basically combine several items to make a new item, but the item quality and traits depend on that of the materials you used. A bomb with better traits and higher quality will deal more damage, of course. You can also attach traits onto armor and weapons like ATK up or resisting poison or making your attacks become a certain element and such. I managed to randomly synth a skill that lets you regenerate 30 HP per turn so it is definitely worth it to mess around. Synthesizing items and materials for armor takes time, but making the actual armor doesn’t.
The only Atelier game with a similar style of gameplay available in English would be Atelier Annie for the DS, although that has resort-building and this doesn’t (whereas Rorona has larger dungeons and more endings).
The plot of the game is to prevent Rorona’s workshop from being closed down and gaining reputation in the town over the course of 3 years. Certainly not a grand plot, and there aren’t any mysteries or legends or anything. It’s like regular life for an RPG npc–do your job, make friends with the people around you, make money and keep up your reputation. If you’re looking for a game with a lengthy epic plot then stay away (and I will recommend the Trail in the Sky/Sora no Kiseki trilogy for you).
The charm of Rorona lies here. There’s a variety of characters you can make friends with, see events of, and bring into dungeons with. They’re quite a hilarious and interesting bunch, and fit into the game’s warm atmosphere. You can choose who to make friends with, and seeing certain events will let you have an ending with each party member (and Astrid) instead of the generic normal/good/true ends. Everyone has their own moe (even the old guy because a certain tsundere loli certainly seems quite taken by him)~ Everyone here has that “RPG npc” feel.
Rorona – Game’s main character who is intended to be your standard clumsy moe who everyone likes to tease. I think she’s the perfect wife because she can make food, healing items and she can also fight and earns lots of cash.
Cordelia – Tsundere loli. Also fun to tease because tsunderes are made for teasing. I got her ending on first playthrough and damn her dere side is cute. Watch her events with yuri goggles on, please.
Sterk – I keep accidentally calling him Stocke because they’re both the serious types who have trouble making friendly talk. Plus their names sound similar. Anyways, this guy is the knight who brings Rorona all the bad news and scares the crap out of her. His Japanese voice is really deep. I-It’s not like I like him in particular or anything. M-My inner otome just can’t resist Mel Kishida’s art style and swords! And the stoic seriousness!
Iksel – Rorona’s childhood friend makes food for her. He has that childhood friend aura, definitely. I guess he’d make a good wife too, considering that he can cook, heal, and fight (KAISER COOKING!!!!)
Lionela – Wandering performer who is extremely shy, not like her clothing would suggest. I didn’t make friends with her on this playthrough.
Tantris – Wandering perverted bard, this game’s Olivier essentially. Not as creepy, I think. I ignored him this playthrough, so maybe his creepy level will rise if I see his events?
Gio – retired 40-year-old. I wish I can retire by then too. He has really high attack and joins at level 30, but is also expensive.
Astrid – Master troll.
Mel Kishida. That pretty much says how nice the character portraits and CG events look. The 3D models don’t look like the character portraits though, and their facial expressions can look pretty awkward (like Iksel’s victory grin). Background environments look pretty nice. The awkward model problem also looks to be completely fixed in Atelier Meruru, where the characters look A LOT like Mel Kishida’s drawings. Definitely want.
They’ve got that heart-warming feel of a town. I’m pretty indifferent towards Gust music outside of Mana Khemia battle themes.
1) Game will hang at the loading screen at times. SAVE OFTEN.
2) Jumping is not so smooth. I have failed at jumping while running MANY TIMES.
3) Your a CG will only appear in your CG gallery if you save your system data after seeing it. E.g. you see a CG, but save the game and then quit the game, your CG will not appear in the gallery when you unlock it because the next time you start the game it loads your system data which is where the CGs are saved. In order to make sure your CGs show up, save system data. The game lets you save system data after an ending, but you can just change the voice language and it will prompt you to save system data.
Before getting this game, you should ask yourself some questions. Do you like item synthesis? Do you want an RPG that doesn’t have an epic long plot? Are you willing to overlook the technical flaws (AKA do you want to get the habit of saving often?)? Are you manly enough to play as a pink-haired moe little girl? If yes, get Rorona. A playthrough will probably only take 20 hours, but this is the type of game that should be played more than once. You only get your money carried over in New Game+, so it should still have some challenge in it since you still have to manage your time making items and leveling up.