Review: Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg
The first game in the Atelier series launched in May 1997 with Atelier Marie: The Alchemist of Salburg, but it never left Japan. Since then, developer Gust has had several iterations within the Atelier brand, including the most recent and most popular, Atelier Ryza. Now, in a nod to the past and where the series began, Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg takes us roots of the Atelier franchise.
The original Atelier Marie never arrived in the West, so it never had an official translation. Thankfully, Gust put the work in and improved several original aspects. The series has always focused on material gathering and crafting items with combat elements interspersed. If that sounds like something you’d be happy to play, you’ve come to the right place. Additionally, suppose you’re not too fond of time constraints but find other elements charming. In that case, there is an Unlimited Mode where you can play beyond the graduation period at a more relaxed pace. Or, if you prefer to follow a schedule and plan your days, then Normal Mode will keep you rolling through the five-year plan Atelier Marie has in store.
An Immersive Alchemical Tale
Atelier Marie Remake beautifully blends the nostalgia of the original game with modern enhancements, delivering an enchanting visual experience. The updated graphics breathe new life into the charming world of Salburg, making every corner of the game pop with details. From the storybook landscapes to the cozy alchemy workshop, the visual presentation offers an impressive glow-up for the series. And while newer entries have essentially gone open-world, the remake sticks to its root by providing a top-down perspective that meshes well with its chibi-fied character models. Fans of Bravely Default might find the new models charming as it feels similar to Square Enix’s RPG series.
Step into the shoes of Marlone (or Marie!), a young and talented alchemist, as she embarks on a quest to master the art of alchemy and save her workshop from closure. The game’s narrative is wonderfully woven, filled with memorable characters, heartfelt moments, and unexpected twists. As you progress through the story, you’ll develop a deep connection with Marie and the supporting cast, rooting for them every step of the way.
One of the most appealing aspects of Atelier Marie lies in its unparalleled freedom, granting players the ability to forge their path over five years. There are no predetermined story paths to a fixed ending; you are encouraged to carefully plan and manage your time to maximize efficiency. Whether you meticulously plot each step to achieve a specific outcome or revel in the joy of alchemy and combat, the possibilities are boundless.
A playthrough might take you between 10-13 hours, depending on how you engage; this is a remake of a game from the PlayStation era. There is an opportunity to replay the game to witness other endings, but that isn’t necessary to enjoy Atelier Marie.
Atelier Marie Remake Is Filled With Magical Moments
One of the standout features of Atelier Marie Remake is its intricate alchemy system. The game offers a deep and rewarding experience, allowing players to gather ingredients, experiment with recipes, and create various potions, weapons, and accessories. When you successfully craft a powerful item or discover a new recipe, the sense of accomplishment is truly satisfying.
To kickstart your alchemical journey, prioritize fulfilling the requests from Sky Tavern, the bustling pub in Salburg. Synthesis of items through alchemy is straightforward: consult a recipe book for guidance and gather the necessary ingredients. By undertaking these requests and delivering the desired items, you will earn both money and fame, contributing to your reputation within the game world. Certain events require a minimum reputation value to trigger, adding additional depth to the experience.
Be mindful of the time limits imposed on requests. Factor in the duration required for travel to and from collection sites (typically located outside the city), the exploration time at these sites, and the synthesis process. Balancing these aspects and choosing your requests is often fun, especially when meticulous planning pays off and you excel in both delivery and financial gains.
Engaging Gameplay Within Salburg
The gameplay of Atelier Marie Remake has seen an upgrade, too. As you venture through the world of Salburg, you’ll encounter diverse environments, from lush forests to bustling marketplaces. Locations are wonderfully rendered, inviting you to explore and discover hidden treasures. The sense of curiosity and wonder is ever-present, urging you to delve deeper into the world and uncover its secrets.
No longer are you exploring static areas to gather items; instead, the maps are fully 3D and filled with enough stock to make any alchemist happy. Each action has time limits, so gathering will take a full day and learning to be mindful of your limitations will go a long way. And it’ll likely take some time to acclimate to the constraints you’ll interact with. These limits become easier over time, even when you’re fighting enemies, which consume time in-game.
Combat is traditional turn-based, and overall, it’s pretty standard, so you’ve likely experienced what Atelier Marie offers. You’ll need to recruit adventurers to help Marie or risk losing a day to recovery and a loss of gathered materials. Battles at the beginning of Marie’s adventure are far more arduous, given you’re fresh-faced and ill-equipped. As time passes, you learn about enemy placement and how to position your team to live another day. With Marie hiring the proper adventurers to gather what she needs, she’ll make enough coin to acquire what she needs. As the years pass, it becomes easier to gather better resources with the help of adept adventurers.
If you’re not confident when beginning, you can have the systems do most of the work for you, leaving the collecting, crafting, and combat out of your hands. There is a downside when doing this, though, as it doesn’t maximize how any day is spent, so I’d advise using this option as a last resort or when you’re not particularly ready to commit to a full day’s schedule.
An Emotional And Memorable Soundtrack
In addition to its captivating visuals and gameplay, Atelier Marie Remake features a beautifully composed soundtrack that enhances the overall experience. The melodic tunes perfectly complement the emotional moments, elevating them to new heights. Whether you’re engrossed in an intense alchemical experiment or embarking on a heartfelt conversation with a fellow character, the music resonates with your emotions, immersing you further into the world of Atelier Marie Remake. Fans of previous games can even find their favourite songs from previous games that become available to listen to in-game. Alternatively, if you prefer to listen to the original score from nearly 30 years ago, you can swap between that or the remastered score.
Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg bridges the series’ earliest moments, allowing newcomers to return to Gust’s earliest moments. If you’re a fan that’s previously experienced either the Dusk or Arland titles, you’ll have a few issues with the pacing and mechanics. If you aren’t fond of time constraints, then I’m not sure Atelier Marie Remake is for you, but several games in the series likely fall in line with what you’re expecting. For everyone else, though, this remake is filled with magical moments and enough to keep you exploring for some time.
[The publisher provided a copy of the game for review purposes.]