Alchemy is fine and just as complex when you get down to it, and battles take a more strategic turn as you can now position your party members around the enemy, affecting what support skills they can use. Through good usage of the battle system, a certain boss fight that is supposed to be “unwinnable” becomes winnable even on the first playthrough. The time constraints have become so lenient, even the quests from townspeople give you over a year to complete (even if it’s as simple as “get me 3 baguettes”), and hand out a lot of cash in comparison to the requests in the Arland series. There are no deadlines, Ayesha just has to save her little sister by the end of the game (3 years) and that’s it. Levelling up is also a lot faster, and reaching level 50 in both alchemy and adventurer levels is quite easy. Boss fights don’t really happen until late game, where a bunch of optional bosses pop up in large numbers. Character models look great, English voice acting is bearable but disappointing in that only around half the game is dubbed (please, if you’re not gonna pay for the JP voices, put that cash into giving a full dub!). Soundtrack is wonderful as well.
The problem is, the game feels lonely. Kinda like Atelier Marie, except with more character events. Yeah, all the characters have plenty of events with Ayesha, but there is a lack of group events or interactions between party members. Remember back in Rorona where bringing different combinations of party members to the world map triggered different conversations between them? Doesn’t happen here. I liked the Regina and Juris events, but the other party members don’t have many events with each other. Plus, the amount of party members feels kinda few. Or maybe that’s just compared to Meruru, which had loads of characters and group interactions. Anyway, Ayesha’s fellow party members not interacting with each other just left a big gap in my heart. It was like in Atelier Marie, where the adventurers only interacted with Marie, and not with each other. Even the bath event was Ayesha & Tanya only.
Well, ’tis the beginning of a new (hopefully) trilogy, so some things gotta go back to square one. A15 has been announced to take place in the same land as Ayesha, this time with a twintail protagonist! Yeah, take my money, Gust! I hope it builds up to the same liveliness as the Arland games, with returning characters and group events. I’m not done with Ayesha seeing as how I’ve got more endings to get (only acquired the endings for party members other than Keith), so maybe it’ll be livelier in some of the other endings. I’ve got no complaints about the characters themselves. Wilbell is a fabulous loli and Linca is moe. Please return in the next game! The lack of Sterk is saddening though, hopefully we get someone who can cut the moon again. Extremely badass specials is the best kind of MANservice.
All in all, it’s a fun game, but not as good as Meruru/Totori. I liked Kishida’s art better, but the new artist is not bad at all. It’s sad to see cutscenes be in full 3D instead of visual novel style with portraits, as good the 3D models are.