I replayed Atelier Annie a while back, I replayed Atelier M, E & Anis recently and just the other day I finished replaying Atelier Lise. As with the Anis game, Lise is one of the earliest Atelier games I played, back when my Japanese was still slightly shaky and I didn’t have the patience to read each and every line the characters said. As a result I plunged headlong into disaster time and time again and walked away from the game utterly frustrated and defeated.
Now older and wiser and bolstered by the experiences of other Atelier games I decided to do things right this time and 1. Actually pay attention to the events and 2. Work on my alchemy no matter how boring it seemed.
And it paid off quite handsomely. I easily got the best ending where Lise makes the Arcanas gem and buys her kingdom back. Thus I got to see the ending sequence, where they discover it was one of their ministers who had embezzled the kingdom’s money, after which they bring him to justice. And they all live happily ever after. I was also one battle away from the Defeat All Bosses ending, and I have a save that I could use to get that ending any time I please. What amazed me was how simple it all was. As long as you visit the town square from time to time, keep raising your alchemy level and follow up immediately on all rumors it’s quite easy to get the best ending on the first playthrough. What was I doing all this time? Truly it is said that a bad workman blames his tools.
Having said all that, it’s not like Atelier Lise has magically transformed into a good game with the passage of time. Truth be told it’s still quite boring. I’m glad I got the good end in one shot because I wouldn’t be able to go back, and believe me I love Atelier games. Since the game is so “been there done that” to me I’m not going to write one of my customary long reviews. A few short notes will have to suffice.
– The alchemy side of the game was BORING! The item selection feels really small. To make up for that the game added an ‘attribute’ system where you can change the sizes and colors of your synthesized items, but it’s nowhere near enough to make up for the lack of variety. And unfortunately you can’t get the best ending unless you raise your level really high, so you will of necessity find yourself making the same few items over and over and over again, essentially grinding up your alchemy level. It’s not fun at all.
– Alchemy is also all but pointless. You can’t make armor or weapons, accessories aren’t all that useful, your party grows so strong so quickly that attack items like Flams are quickly outclassed, a strong party also means they don’t need that many healing items, etc. What’s worse is that even though you’re supposed to be earning millions of cole to buy back your kingdom, guild quests are a pain to fulfill and don’t give you much money. Unless you want to grind through 5 or 10 playthroughs to save up money you’re just wasting your time.
– Probably has the least challenging battles in the whole series. You can hire the ridiculously powerful Marius almost from the start to take care of anyone remotely tough while Hilda can take out the whole field in a single turn. Enemies also drop tons of EXP, making leveling a breeze. Good armor and weapons and healing items are also in plentiful supply. You don’t have to die unless you want to.
– Foraging is a pain because you have to pan slowly across the screen to the left and right instead of just letting the game go by. On the other hand the little mini-games you could play to increase your yields were quite fun.
– There was only one interesting NPC, but on the other hand all the playable characters were delightfully amusing. I especially liked manic Poin Stadt and spacey, cowardly Hilda. Hilda runs away every time a halfway strong enemy shows up. I’m like “But Hilda, you’re already dead!” but she’s too far away to hear me. Atelier Lise easily has the best and most memorable cast of the three DS games. In the end Lise sneaks away without saying goodbye, which I think was a pretty heelish thing to do because they’re all such great guys.
– This game is (in)famous for being irredeemably buggy, so much so that Gust actually recalled the first printing, which almost never happens in gamedom. That said I’ve always played the rom (naughty, naughty) and never had a bug problem. Something to consider if you buy it and find yourself dealing with bugs and glitches.
– I didn’t notice anything special about the music or graphics. The text is quite hiragana-heavy so it might be good for budding Japanese-game players, as long as they take the time to pay attention to the plot.
Basically the characters are nice but the battles are too easy and the alchemy is no fun at all. TBH I still enjoyed it more than Annie because I actually liked the characters this time round, but Atelier Lise does deserve all the panning it got. I’m just glad Gust finally got their act together in time for Lina.