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Atelier Shallie Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea
Score: 92%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: KOEI TECMO America Corp.
Developer: GUST
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: RPG

Graphics & Sound:
A couple of years ago, you might have played Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea on the PS3. It was a really good game and it is the final part of the Dusk Sea trilogy. If you would like just a bit more of the story with some added stuff, you can now get Atelier Shallie Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea.

Since this is the same game as the previous one, with a few new things, everything looks the same. Your characters come from different lands, so there are quite a few different styles of dress and hairstyles. There are also different costumes for the characters and you will unlock more clothing as you progress in the game. You can try them on in the Dressing Room at your diary. You can have all the characters running around in swimsuits if you want, but the clothing is more interesting. Personally, I like Mirucaís pirate-wear the best.

The music hasnít changed, as far as I can tell. It is still really good and the background music fits well with the game. You can choose which background music you want to listen to as well, so if there is one you love, you can keep it playing in other places. When you run into more powerful enemies, it sounds just a little darker. The voicework is amazing as well. You can choose from English or Japanese voices and there are English subtitles.


Gameplay:
Atelier Shallie Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea is the conclusion to the Dusk Sea trilogy. You will find yourself playing with familiar characters if you played the previous games. In the city of Stellard, the water is drying up. There is still a lot left, but since they are the only city in the area with a water source, it is worrying. The problem is more widespread. They call it the Dusk Sea; it is a vast desert that is spreading and no one knows how to stop it. Several parties are trying to figure out the problem and find the best way to solve it.

Kortes is accompanying Princess Shallesteria, or Shallie for short, on a journey to Stellard. Shallesteria is the daughter of the chief of Lugion village. Lugion still has water, but it is slowly drying up too. They are worried about the Dusk Sea that is getting continually closer. Shallie is hoping to find answers in Stellard, or at least find someone that can help them. Kortes and Shallie will run into Jurie Crotze pretty quickly. Sheís an old acquaintance of Kortes who is now a treasure hunter, determined to get rich. She hitches a ride back to Stellard with them, but ends up a more or less permanent member of the party. After meeting up with Jurie, youíll end up playing as a different Shallie. This Shallie is Shallotte Elminus and she lives in Stellard with her mom, Nady. Shallie does odd jobs for the Union when she can get work from Raoul. Sheís determined to prove to him that she can do more than just little cleaning work, though. Miruca is her best friend who is an alchemist that specializes in Imbuing items. She is also Jurieís little sister. Both Shallies are alchemists of the more traditional sort.

After you play as Shallotte for a bit, you will then choose which Shallie to play the game as. If you skip all the dialogue, you can play through them and get to the choice in under 15 minutes. You will have them both in your party for a huge portion of the game and you will need them both to solve the problem of the Dusk Sea. Which one you choose is up to you. They do both have different stories, so if you want to see the entire game, you will need to play through both stories. After you complete the game, you will be able to select load your Clear Data for the future playthroughs, which will give you a bit of a boost at the beginning of the second game (you keep your money, combat equipment, search equipment, and redeemed growth points). You will also start where you select your Shallie.

Raoul Pireit is the head of the Cooperative Union. Solle Grumman is an "official from Central" whoís there to check out the ruins. Considering heís always behind the desk, he really has other people check them out for him. You also will need to work with the Perriend Corporation. Gerard Perriend is in charge of it and Linca is his secretary. He is upset with Shallie for crashing her ship into the harbor. He will give both Shallies jobs as well to help the city. You can also buy alchemy items from Linca. Katla Larchica is a street vendor that you will visit a lot and sheís an interesting character. You will be able to buy books from her for some alchemy recipes, plus items to make recipes. After a couple of chapters, you will meet Homura the Homunculus. He will join you too. Rosemia is definitely a unique character. Sheís quite mysterious! You will be able to shop from her as well. As you can tell, there are a whole lot of characters and a lot of backstory.

In another change, you have a few more playable characters this time. I booted up my PS3 game just to make sure I wasnít forgetting that I had someone before. This time, Solle, Escha, and Logy are all going to join you in battle. Logy is extremely good and he has become one of my favorite characters. I was hoping that Escha would be able to use basket items like Shallie since she is an alchemist too, but she canít. Solle isnít a bad fighter either! There are a lot more cutscenes with Escha now that Logy is there too. With these new characters, I found the game to be easier than before. This is not an exceptionally long game, so if you move on to the next chapter when you can, it shouldnít take forever to finish, which leaves plenty of time to play as the second Shallie!


Difficulty:
With all these characters and stories, it feels like I have forgotten about the battle. Donít fear, there is plenty of battling to be done. You can choose to play Atelier Shallie Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea on one of three modes (four after you have beaten the game once): Story Watcher (Easy), Game Fan (Normal), Hardcore (Hard), and after you have beaten it once, Despair. You can change between these difficulty levels at any time. Be aware that if you change the difficulty level and then load a different game, it will keep the latest difficulty level. That is a system setting that is not dependent on the game. Just something to note.

When you are not in towns, you can hit various dungeon points. Each place will have specific items and monsters there. You can even see which ones (after you have visited and discovered them) on the map, which is handy if youíre looking for specific things for requests. Battle is turn-based. You can only have three people fighting at once, but once you have more than three in your party, you can use Assists. You have to wait until the assist gauge is full, but after it is, you can have your "back row" allies attack or even defend the front. They will trade places with the front row character when they do, so just be aware of who you have and where they are. Rear characters only attack with assists, but their MP will regenerate back there, so itís a great way to get that MP refilled. You can use healing items on the back characters as well; so as long as you didnít let them totally die, you can recover them. If you do lose a character, they will be restored to 1 HP at the end of the battle. If you lose all your characters, well it actually depends on how far you are into the game. You donít actually lose anything though, so dying doesnít really hurt. If you have met Rosemia, you will get a few cutscenes too.

Donít forget to use field events, as they will make your life easier! These can be seen in the top left corner while you are exploring. You can find some exceptional items or encounter some powerful enemies, whatever you choose. Later on, you will also unlock Field Bursts. These happen during your battles. They can be really beneficial, so learn to use them well. The bursts available will depend on which characters you have in your assist row. Ultimate attacks will really make your life easier too!

Your HP/MP does not restore when you level up. It will restore when you go back to your ship and go anywhere else. Basically HP restores when time passes. You can perform alchemy and it will restore during that time as well. Once you get your alchemy up a few levels, you will be able to use synthesis skills. These can really make your life easier so play with them all and use them well. Each element has its own skill set and you will unlock more skills as your alchemy improves.


Game Mechanics:
As you might be used to in the previous Atelier games, you have a time limit to complete the game (I never did manage to rescue Nio before time ran out in Atelier Ayesha). If you are like me and hated that time limit, you might like the change in Atelier Shallie Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea since there is no time limit. Instead, you will have Life tasks, things that Shallie either wants or needs to do. You should work on them. You can press (L) to view them.There are five types: Mind, Body, Person, Skill, and Main. First you have to complete the Main by doing the chapter objectives. Then you will have to complete a series of the other tasks that will appear in the Main to move on to the next chapter, 100 points worth. After that, you can choose to move to the next chapter when you want. I recommend moving on when you can.

There is one very minor change that I absolutely love. On the map, you will see a scroll beside the areas where you can find items/monsters for your requests. In the PS3 version, those were there too. What wasnít there was a scroll beside the items in your synthesis screen that you have requests for, and this one little change made the game so much easier for me. Rather than having to remember everything you needed to synthesize for requests or having to exit the synthesis after each item to check your requests, you will now see a little scroll telling you that you accepted a request to make that item. Itís the little things sometimes!

While I do still have some complaints (as mentioned in my first review), I still really enjoyed Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea, so itís no wonder that I love Atelier Shallie Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea. The little touches that they have added really complete the game. The additional playable characters are really awesome, and so are the additional scenes they are in as well. Even if you already own the first, I think you should get Atelier Shallie Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea. Itís expanded (and it has been a while), so it feels new. Plus, it is portable!


-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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