Atelier Lydie & Suelle Hands-On Gameplay Impressions

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(Photo: Koei Tecmo)

Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings practically gives away its JRPG feel in its paragraph-long title alone, and I mean that in the most positive ways possible. It's been a while since a franchise like this one has really made an impression on me, and this was one that I didn't expect to enjoy with the short time I had to explore. Perhaps it's just how tightly the game pulls at those tiny strings of early 00's anime nostalgia that makes it so enjoyable, mixed with new-age graphics that look brilliant on a big screen.

The title marks the 20th installment into the franchise, and is the final game within the Mysterious sub-trilogy. While the graphics and heroines are new and shiny (seriously, these girls glow a few times), the franchise has a long-running legacy and a distinct play style. Turn-based and gorgeously designed, it almost feels a little like an old school .Hack game -- just with alchemy instead.

Witht hat in mind, Atelier games have always been perfect for a relaxing afternoon with just enough challenge to keep the cogs in your mind turning, but nothing overtly challenging until you have to face a boss. A lot of time is spent gathering items and forging new materials to use in the player character's alchemy, so that's unfortunately what I spent my time doing during the hour that I played.

The two new heroines, Lydie and Suelle, are fun characters who do seem to grow a lot through the dialogue they exchange. Players control one of the sisters at a time to navigate, while both of them joined in when we ran into battles. During the first hour of the game, you meet the girls' father and find out why they share a single flat among the three of them: he's really bad at alchemy. Thus, most of the first hour is spent helping their father out, gathering items and others supplies while facing cute fruit-shaped monsters in the forest. While the adventure spins out way more beyond that, it was still fun and enjoyable to just explore the world and get used to the new locations.

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Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings releases for PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Switch and PC in March.