Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky DX Review — Come Sail Away
Koei Tecmo recently released the Atelier Dusk Trilogy, and we're breaking down our impressions of each entry in the collection. This review focuses on Atelier Escha & Logy, but be sure to can check out our Atelier Ayesha DX and Atelier Shallie DX reviews too.
If Atelier Ayesha was inspired by Atelier Totori before it, then Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky is based solidly on Atelier Rorona. As the title and opening movie show, it follows the story of two alchemists, Escha Mallier, the pink-haired one with a tail (??), and Logix Fiscario, the silent swordsman.
Their combined stories are a first for the series in more ways than one. Not only do you choose your protagonist, but their stories are actually intertwined with a more traditional RPG narrative that, while not on par with many others in the genre, is still quite good on its own.
It builds on a lot of what makes Atelier Ayesha so enjoyable, while adding even more refinements to the system and deftly reintroducing things like stricter time limits to make what's easily the best title in the trilogy despite some shortcomings.
The game takes place mostly in the town of Colseit, a frontier village struggling to hold on to its identity — and government funding — through aiding in ruins exploration.
Though the overall narrative arc focuses on the mysteries of these ruins and goes deeper into the problems plaguing the world, the specifics differ slightly depending on which character you choose. I chose Logix (Logy, for short) just for a change of pace. He's an alchemist from the metropolis of Central City sent to the boonies of Colseit for reasons he keeps to himself.
You'll be using both synthesis skills to take on tasks both for the R&D department and the government in general. These run the gamut from repairing windmills to exploring new areas, locating lost explorers, and pretty much everything in between. However, this time around, you're back to having a time limit for story tasks. You get four months for each task, which is more than enough — entirely on purpose.
After you complete your main tasks, assuming you have time left over, you enter Free Time. This is where you're, well, free to do whatever. And there's plenty to do.
You get a card each month, with your main task in the middle and multiple side tasks spread out around it, sort of like Rorona but more aesthetically pleasing and with greater purpose.
These cards unlock as you meet certain requirements or finish nearby tasks, and should you complete the inner nine and outer ring of tasks, you'll be rewarded with stat boosts, rare items, or even better, alchemy books. A lot of these require things like gathering, traveling, synthesizing, or combat, which all take in-game time, so the additional leeway granted through the extra month is greatly appreciated here.
On top of those, you'll be picking up requests from Solle, the government agent in town. These are the usual "destroy monster X" or "make thing Y" tasks, but completing them gives you more than just a paltry reward. You'll earn rank points for every task completed, and as your rank goes up, your monthly stipend increases and you get access to better items and rewards.
Though Escha & Logy doesn't feel as open and "I'm on a grand adventure" as Ayesha, it more than makes up for that feeling with a huge number of tightly interconnected systems that always reward you for taking the time to explore and complete them. That's not to say the story isn't rewarding, though; it still builds to a satisfying crescendo that starts tying some of the plot threads from Ayesha together.
One huge improvement is how the game handles what it dubs Adventure Items. These are things like healing and attack items you use all the time and typically spend time and items to routinely make. Not anymore.
The R&D department has access to a group of homunculi (it's a thing) that supply adventure items you register. Every time you come back to town, voila: you've got a new supply of bombs, crafts, salves, and whatever you were able to register (depending on your rank). It sounds simple, but it's a huge time saver and cuts down on a lot of drudgery.
While Logy isn't the most developed character in the series, both he and Escha have distinct personalities and stand out more than Ayesha does. The interaction between the two is also enjoyable. It's not deep, but the two learning from and helping each other is definitely cozy and warmhearted. It's something the Dusk trilogy does much better than Arland, which had a rather unpleasant tendency to mix "friendship" with "treating the girl like a complete idiot and insulting her."
The writing is still a bit iffy in places, though it seems to smooth out as the game progresses — even if some areas do seem too literal again. One curious thing is that some terms from Ayesha are changed, so I'm guessing a different editor worked on this one and Shallie. The voice acting is much better this time around too, with Logy being the only somewhat bland one in the bunch.
Combat takes one step back from Ayesha by removing the movement-based attack bonuses, even though it leaves "move" as an option. However, it takes a few steps forward in other ways. The pacing is faster, and your alchemists both get the ability to use items and special skills. Support guards and attacks make a return, only this time, support guards don't use much from your assist meter.
That's good, because you'll be relying on them a lot. Combat in Escha & Logy is a very satisfying affair, with a good mix of simple and difficult battles available right from the start and a variety of different options to keep it from ever seeming stale.
Synthesis is largely the same, with even more emphasis placed on special alchemy skills. You have different options available depending on the item type and its attributes and elemental affiliations. Some skills let you emphasize an elemental quality to get a different result, some reduce the Cost Points required to craft and thus let you create higher-level items, while others strengthen the existing traits.
Combined with the boost and order effects from Ayesha, plus the Imbue system for equipment, there's actually a lot going on in Escha & Logy's crafting. Fortunately, it's easy to understand thanks to simple tutorials and even easier once you start experimenting with it all.
Escha & Logy has more endings than Ayesha, because some of them are tied to specific protagonists. Between that, the customization options and variety of tasks available, plus the slight differences in each character's story, there's really a lot here to keep you a happy, busy little alchemist.
- Expanded crafting system that's even more involved (and addictive)
- Even better cast than Ayesha, with stronger protagonists
- Excellent combat
- A number of quality of life improvements
- Tons of content
- Still iffy writing
- Worldbuilding could have been expanded more.
All in all, Atelier Escha & Logy DX is easily the best entry in the Dusk trilogy With refined mechanics, better combat, and seriously compelling crafting systems, it even stands among the top entries in the Atelier series on whole. If you only pick up one title from this new trilogy collection, definitely consider making it Escha & Logy.
[Note: A copy of Atelier Dusk Trilogy was provided by Koei Tecmo for the purpose of this review.]