Previously, I compared Atelier Rorona: Alchemist of Arland
to Facebook games, those addictive social time-wasters we've all at one time or another been sucked into. Once again, if Atelier Rorona
was a Facebook game, it would quickly rocket to the top of the site's "Most Played" list.
Story provides more of a backdrop for Atelier Rorona than a pure driving force. Following the discovery of machines, the burg of Arland flourished into a thriving populace. Once the machines were in, alchemy was out. Rorona is the last active alchemist in Arland and someone wants her out, prompting the king to issue a three month challenge to Rorona - craft items to the kingdom's exact specifications or lose the shop.
Though the story provides a bit of a push, most of the forward momentum is player-driven. Getting back to Facebook game comparisons, everything is based on managing your time, money and hitpoints (HP). You have three months in-game time to craft a certain number of items, though most of the time you'll have to follow long strings of crafted items just to get the necessary components.
Crafting items is fairly straightforward and easy to manage. Just choose items from a list and hit the "create" button. Sorting though recipes is, however, a bit of a pain. It's just hard to know what you need to create certain items, or even where to find them. During the first mission, I went nuts trying to figure out where I could find a certain ingredient, only to find it for sale next door. Bad on me for not checking, but it would have been nice to at least know the item's classification so I would know to look in the Weapon Shop.
For the most part, Atelier Rorona is mainly a game of scheduling and resource management. At the start of each month period, you're given a set of items you must craft. Most items require components that you'll either have to create or find outside town. In order to craft an item, you first need to get the recipe, which can be purchased from shops in town. To do this, you'll need to craft items for people in town, which will eat away at the resources.