Do you know that moment when you watch a game trailer and you know it’s gonna be a day one purchase? That’s how I felt about Nelke & the Legendary Alchemists: Ateliers of the New World, which is the newest spin-off in the amazing Atelier series. With several characters from each past Atelier game making their reappearance, I can guarantee you’re in for a lot of fun.
Compared to the other games in the series, the mechanics in this one is a little different. Instead of following the tradition of playing as an alchemist, you take control of Nelke, an aristocrat whose aim is to turn a small town into a metropolis. In order to remain in charge of improving the town and its popularity, you need to fulfill missions given to you by your father in a certain amount of time. Construct facilities, set their managers and administrate the funds.
However, that doesn’t mean there’s no action in the game – to receive resources for town building, you have to gather them in the wild while defeating random enemies that get in your way. In contrast to the other Atelier games, gathering items is now completely automatic. Some fans might not like that system while others might actually enjoy laying back and letting the game do the work. Of course, you always get to bring other characters with you who will fight with you.
Since this game IS a spin-off, it’s little to no surprise that you are actually not in charge of synthesizing ingredients and using alchemy to create new objects yourself. Several alchemists will do that for you now – as I’ve already mentioned, you will encounter and be able to hire various characters from the main series like Rorona, Meruru, Totori as well as others from Atelier games that only ever received a release in Japan like Marie (Atelier Marie: The Alchemist of Salburg) and Judie (Atelier Judie: The Alchemist of Gramnad). With their help, you will be able to receive consumables which, in return, can be sold at the grocery shop. And of course, the income made from those sales will be needed to make the town bigger and pay your employees.
Apart from the whole town building aspect in the game, you’ll also be introduced to the friendship system, which is really not that hard to comprehend; visit the inhabitants to raise their affection level with you and unlock bonuses that will make the game easier for you.
Not only does the game impress in terms of gameplay, it certainly does so in visuals and audio as well – the graphics and 3D models glisten and are amazingly beautiful and the game itself runs pretty smoothly. The 2D art is even more polished than any other Atelier game in the past. Although there is no English dub in the game, the Japanese voice acting is just as praiseworthy as the perfectly composed soundtrack.
For a spin-off title, Nelke is anything but disappointing. Even though the gameplay is vastly different from the main series, it still manages to uphold that charm the other Atelier games have. With a huge cast of characters many of us might be familiar with and simple yet fun gameplay, I think it’s safe to say that a lot of people will enjoy it. And if this happens to be your first Atelier game, it might just pique your interest in the main series. I strongly recommend it to every JRPG fan out there.
+ the change in game mechanics works
+ suitable for both Atelier veterans and newcomers
- no English dub
- some people might not enjoy the automatic gathering system
This review covers the PS4 version of Nelke & the Legendary Alchemists: Ateliers of the New World. Nelke & the Legendary Alchemists: Ateliers of the New World is available now on PS4, Nintendo Switch and Steam. I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to Koei Tecmo for providing me with the opportunity to play this beautiful game and write this review.