Atelier Lydie and Suelle: the Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings is the final release in the Mysterious trilogy in the Atelier series. After the changes players saw going from Atelier Sophie: the Alchemist of the Mysterious Book to Atelier Firis: the Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey — reincorporating a time limit, which has appeared in most of the Atelier series, and an open world to explore — Atelier Lydie and Suelle sets up expectations to fulfill.
The two main characters are twin alchemists, Lydie and Suelle, who live with their father in an atelier. If you have played previous Atelier titles, you’re likely familiar with what the tutorial introduces: You’re shown how to gather, an overview of the town map, how to quickly travel to another part of the town, and eventually, how to battle. Their father, also an alchemist, stows away paintings he works on in the basement. When the twins venture into the basement for the first time, they come across a hanging painting, which subsequently sucks them into its landscape. Here, your tasks involve exploring this dreamy area, battling, and collecting materials.
Despite that the materials there are of a higher quality than the twins’ father is used to, he forbids the twins from venturing back in there. For now, you must obtain materials from the areas surrounding the main town of Melveille — a place that appears initially as lively as Kirchen Bell, the town from Atelier Sophie. Both of these towns contrast with the more dreary atmosphere of Atelier Firis, where Atelier’s Mysterious trilogy began.
The reputation of your atelier is not stellar by any means. Your next task is to enter into the Atelier Ranking System, but first, you must pass the entrance exam, requiring you to synthesize Dream Paintbrushes. After your first attempt, Mireille advises you to make it more of your own. You run into a familiar face shortly after, Ilmeria, an alchemist who appeared in the previous title. The twins beg her to teach them, and she agrees. Other characters from the trilogy make their way into the story, providing that sense of familiarity if you played the other two releases.
After the entrance exam, you start at unranked, then must work up through a total of nine ranks. To rank up, you must first raise the reputation of your atelier, granting you access to the Ambitions Journal, and then pass another exam. This journal hosts several tasks, including fulfilling requests, battling, and synthesizing, though you need not clear each task in this book before accessing the rank up exam. Play as you normally would; the journal provides a sense of progression between ranking up and ensures you’re staying well-rounded and not just focusing on just gathering. Once you rank up, you’re free to complete the rest of the tasks in the Ambitions Journal from the previous rank.
With each rank increase, you acquire access to a new painting to explore, thereby progressing the story. You also acquire new locations in the overworld on the outskirts of town, similar to Atelier Sophie. If you’re a fan of the series, you might have hoped for more interaction with the paintings, such as what Sophie offered for Plachta. For these paintings, you must craft items and paints to help restore them, but this didn’t feel as engaging as did helping Plachta regain her memories. The plot and hilarity of the dialogue in Atelier Lydie and Suelle does pick up a bit later and provide enjoyment, however.
Exploration in this release is like it was in Atelier Sophie: from the Outskirts Map, which shows the town and surrounding areas, you hover over where you want to travel, then click. Atelier Firis implemented more of an open-world approach, where you must travel through areas to uncover new ones. Admittedly, the method of travel in Atelier Lydie and Suelle is more streamlined and cuts down on travel time and having to backtrack, but a lack of open world diminishes the satisfaction of exploring that Atelier Firis provided.
This title also lacks a time limit, which was present in Firis. You’re free to play at your own pace, but a time limit did offer a challenge to some players. Certain requests do have a deadline — usually a few weeks — but these are optional, and you can easily finish before their deadlines. Unlike the prior entries in this trilogy, Atelier Lydie and Suelle also doesn’t feature an LP (Life Point) system that depletes as you travel and perform actions in the field, which required you to rest, lest your stats temporarily suffer.
PUT ‘EM UP
Combat is your standard turn-based system that the others in the series feature. Once you obtain more playable characters, you may use them as supporters who might execute a skill after you throw a bomb or use a skill. If you designate a character as a support for someone who throws bombs or performs skills often, this helps speed up battles and make higher-health enemies easier.
EVERYTHING FEELS CONNECTED
Materials you collect vary in quality and traits. Items you may create help progress the story and prove helpful not only during battles but also for various tasks and requests. You unlock more recipes by collecting new materials and practicing alchemy, but also in other ways, such as battling or purchasing books that teach you a set of recipes. A few recipes permit you to construct customized equipment at the blacksmith’s shop, but you can also remove and reattach these customizations at any time for a nominal fee.
ALCHEMY MASTERY IS GONE
In Atelier Firis, you could level up not only your Alchemy but also increase your mastery of making individual items (Bronze to Silver, and so on). The perks of that system included a higher quantity output and an increased quality of your product, for example. In Atelier Lydie and Suelle, you can only raise your Alchemy. I guess a mastery system isn’t necessary here, given that there’s no time limit for your main goals and raising your Alchemy grants perks, such as an increase in the number of traits transferred. But, Firis’ Alchemy system offered more incentive and satisfaction to crafting each item multiple times, which you would likely do anyway.
The only issue I encountered was that my controller stopped working, though this issue didn’t occur the following day. Relaunching the application didn’t solve the problem. The key mappings if you’re using a keyboard feel clunky and unintuitive; even after consulting the manual, I had difficulty moving around and controlling the camera with ease. What I didn’t experience in this title that I did in the previous two was optimization issues; no more odd and awkward pauses waiting for the game to load a menu or carry out a command during a battle!
The crux here is the paintings, which do offer new areas to explore and provide added incentive to increase your ranking. But, if you were hoping that you could interact with these paintings on a more personal level like how you interacted with Plachta, the mysterious book from Atelier Sophie, you won’t really find that here. The paintings do appear to have a life of their own, given that they change from time to time, but this change doesn’t seem drastic or noticeable. Unlike these paintings, I could sympathize with Plachta and become attached to her involvement in the story; I felt compelled to help her. That story captivated me in its entirety, so I was hoping for the same here.
The Verdict: Great
You might be disappointed if you were hoping to find beloved elements from the first two titles in the trilogy, such as Life Points, an open world, mastering specific items, etc. Still, Atelier Lydie and Suelle is an enjoyable and relaxing experience that is worthwhile in its own right.