Source: Review Copy
Price: £32.99 (or £74.22 for this, Sophie DX, and Lydie and Suelle DX)
Where To Get It: Steam
Time limits. My ancient nemesis. Why, I haven’t seen you since… Come to think of it, I haven’t played an RPG with time limits since Recettear. Huh.
Anyway, before I go on, I will mention they’re quite generous unless you want to do aaaaall the sidequesting, but, can’t lie, I’ve been spoiled by the recent ones and feel like it’s antithetical to cute alchemist chill times.
Well, except maybe in Escha & Logy, what with the whole “World on the verge of ruin” dealio. Anyway, bitching over, time to talk about cute alchemist funtimes. Because, oh look, it’s still a quality series.
And this installment… Apart from the ones I haven’t played (most of the earlier ones), this is perhaps the saddest beginning. Little bird Firis, trapped in a stone cage, barred with an iron door.
I mean, the cage is actually a mining town, and she has a valued job because she can “hear” gathering points (ores is specifically what she was trained for), but… A cage all the same, and she wants to see the blue sky, feel the wind… The world outside, dagnabbit!
Well, obviously it’d be a short game if she didn’t find a way to leave, but… It’s an emotional beginning, all the same. And then, of course, it’s cute alchemist funtimes, with cute alchemist obsta-
Ah. Let’s talk a little about Flussheim. Flussheim is not my favourite place in Atelier Firis. In fact, it seems to serve almost solely as something to make the clock flow by. Long runs from objective to objective, a small mazelike portion of the map where I waste a day on average trying to get to the two shops there during their opening hours, and your first mass alchemy. Oh boy. I hope you were collecting ingredients despite feeling the time pressure, otherwise you’re going to be spending time gathering ingredients. 40 metals. 30 fuel. I forget the others, but in addition to the other quest item requirements, you can pretty much expect to be a pro at Ingots, and spend several days, probably around 20 or 30, just making this one thing.
This killed my buzz pretty quickly. Up to this point, I’d been happily gathering, getting new recipes, meeting new folks, chuckling as an old lady very obviously put us through the wringer with chores for the sake of putting us through the wringer (oh, you cunning old biddy), engaging with the turn based combat and making new friends to fight with, pretty much all of them useful in some fashion in the party, enjoying the aesthetic…
I didn’t check out during Flussheim’s final step. But god, I was tempted, and I think, honestly, this point in the game is going to be where people get put off from finishing. It’s a segment of the game that doesn’t respect your time. And what with the time pressure, it’s a frustrating, evil segment that brings the rest down.
The rest of the game is fine, and indeed, once you’ve gotten through the alchemy exam, the time limits go away, and it remains cute alchemist funtimes, with great music, well designed enemies, cool crafting with puzzle elements (Addition: Oh hi there, colourblind unfriendly ingredient colours!), interesting places… But I can’t say I’m fond of time constraints, however generous, and I’m even less fond of them after encountering Flussheim. And I’m also less fond of Atelier Firis.
In conclusion? Firis is one of the weaker entries I’ve encountered so far in the series.
Which is a shame, because otherwise, it’s a fun story.