Despite my gripes with Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland, there was no denying that the game had some good stuff going for it. Item creation was aplenty, the game was beautiful to behold, there were some endearing characters and it didn’t take itself too seriously. My time with Rorona and her friends was cut short due to the annoying time limit lingering over my head, and the pressure to make sure that everyone in the town of Arland was satisfied. However, such is the nature of an Atelier game. The three Atelier Irises were very different from the usual fare of an Atelier game, and I knew this going into both Rorona and the game in review: Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland. There is still a time limit to do as much as possible, but for some reason, things aren’t as pressing or as do-or-die as they were in Rorona’s adventure. So, if you felt that the time limit in Atelier Rorona was obnoxious but enjoyed other features of the game, you should pick up Atelier Totori. The game is short enough that you can play it multiple times in the event you miss something, and best of all, the time limit doesn’t feel as forced this time around. However, it’s still there and something to be aware of.
Atelier Totori stars a sweet, lovable heroine named Totooria Helmod. Everyone calls her Totori because it’s easier to say. Whatever. Years after her mother disappeared on an adventure, Totori begins learning alchemy from Rorona Frixel, the star of the previous game. Totori decides to seek the truth and find out what happened to her mother. Totori’s sister and father fear the worst, but our leading lady remains positive. In order to find the truth, Totori become an adventurer. As you can see, Totori’s quest is similar to Rorona’s in that there are no monstrous threats consuming the world or diabolical villains planning on taking all things over. However, searching for someone’s mother is a bit more serious than trying to stop a workshop from going under. Totori and her friends, some of which you’ll recognize from Rorona, have a surprisingly large world to explore as they uncover new areas, find new items and, uncover new recipes for alchemy.
True to the Atelier style, item creation is very important in Atelier Totori. There are tons of items to make, and many of them can be used to create more items. Totori will do more than throw stuff in a cauldron, though. She has to gather the raw materials, defeat monsters and explore new areas. All of this and more are needed to increase her Adventure Ranking. In order to successfully complete the game, you need to get Totori’s ranking to a certain level before a five year mark. If you follow a guide, not only will you be able to do all of this, you’ll be able to see all of the hidden events and scenes. However, if you don’t follow a guide, chances are you’ll feel lost and a bit overwhelmed when you acquire your license. If your license expires, you get the “bad ending.” Those who do what they’re supposed to will get the “normal ending.” Those who follow a guide will get the “true ending” as well as the various character endings. Atelier Totori is a bit more forgiving than Atelier Rorona, but there is still plenty to miss and simple things like gathering, item crafting and monster hunting can take away precious time. Time management is still important, but not as important.
Since this is an RPG, I guess I should touch on the battle system. Umm, it’s turn based, quicker than Rorona, but not as easy. Yay? Totori is the only character who can use items, and her comrades will be able to assist her in attack and defense as a meter underneath their hit points charges. As characters level up, they learn new skills and the new specials. Really, if you played Rorona you’ll know what to expect. The battles are usually over within seconds, which is good because it allows you to get back to item crafting.
And just like Rorona’s, Totori’s adventure is beautiful. The 3D models are gorgeously designed and animated, and there is no detail left behind in each character’s facial expressions. Character’s have a variety of portraits/moods that get shown during the event scenes. Most of these scenes are voiced, and you have the option of picking Japanese or English. Unlike Rorona, Totori’s voice acting is much better. Rorona, who plays a very important role in this game, sounds much better than she did before. Returning favorites like Cordelia and Sterk sound just as great as ever, despite some cheesy attacks and win quotes. All in all, Atelier Totori is a beautiful game on the eyes and the ears.
So, how does Atelier Totori measure up after the promising but overall disappointing Atelier Rorona? If you enjoyed Rorona, then you’ll enjoy Totori more. If you didn’t like Rorona due to the time management issues, you should look into Totori with the intention of playing through it twice. The first time you play through it, chances are you’ll get the normal ending but still get to see some neat stuff and not feel as pressured by the time. The second time you play, look for a guide so you can see what really goes on with Totori and her quest. If anything, Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland is an indication that Gust is going in the right direction with the Atelier saga. Correcting some of the minor problems in Atelier Rorona, they were able to achieve a more accessible, forgiving game, despite the time limit. More direction regarding the event scenes would have been nice, but all in all, I’m glad I decided to not brush off the Atelier saga due to Rorona leaving a sour pie taste in my mouth.