The 17th in the series Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book is set in a small town called Kirchen Bell. Sophie lives in this small town as an alchemist taking over her grandmother’s atelier. But since she is just starting out she is nowhere near at the level her grandmother was at. To make money Sophie will either take on various tasks from the townspeople or she will create things to sell later. At first, the townspeople’s confidence in Sophie was on the low side. But one day Sophie finds one of her grandmother’s recipes in a mysterious book. She decides to make the recipe and it is the best quality item she has ever made. Even her friends were surprised at the quality. She sells the item she made to one of the townspeople. Now the townspeople have new-found confidence in Sophie and she has a new mysterious book.
Sophie discovers something else about the mysterious book. Her new book can also talk but it doesn’t remember anything about it’s past. Now it is up to Sophie to help this book figure out how it came to be and the rest of its memories. The mysterious book is the only mentor Sophie has left to help her perfect her alchemy skills. Sophie and the book form a new partnership. Whenever Sophie learns a new recipe it gets put in the book and the book, in turn, gets one of its memories back. When Sophie learned a new recipe she learned the book’s name was Plachta. Kirchen Bell is the hub for all of Sophie’s activities. Atelier Sophie has open world exploration. You are free to go wherever you want and whenever you want.
There are tons of people in town you can talk to, shops to visit, and you can use the world map to explore other areas. In Atelier Sophie you can increase your friendship level with certain characters in the game. You do this by either having that person in your party or giving them a gift when you see them. They can also bring you gifts in return. The type of gifts you give them matter. If you give them something they like their friendship level with you increases. You can also unlock special cutscenes and exploration events. If you explore the town or other places Sophie sometimes gets inspiration for a new recipe. The drawback to this open world gameplay is that it isn’t always clear what you should be doing. The game doesn’t give you any daily directions on what Sophie should be doing. There were many times in the game where I felt lost as to what I should be doing.
Which brings me to my next point about the game. Sophie can go to sleep in the game. If you take her to her bed the game will ask you how long you want her to sleep for. The weather also changes in the game. If you feel that you have nothing else to do for that day you can just have Sophie go to sleep. Another great way to kill time in the game is gathering alchemy materials. But beware that if you go to the forest to gather materials you will run into creatures you will have to fight. The good news is that you can take 2 people with you. It is also a turn based system. Each time it is someone’s turn in your party it will ask you what action they should take.
Atelier Sophie does a great job of explaining the alchemy system in the game. It is basically a color coded system. You place green ingredients on the green squares of the menu grid, red on red squares, and yellow on yellow squares. The game will guide you on how to do it. It sounds a little confusing at first but it’s rather easy once you get the hang of it. The items you make do get graded on quality. If you aren’t happy with the grade of the item you can always go back and make it again. The drawback to this system is that you can only make one item at a time. Even if you get a request to make 10 items you can’t make all 10 at one time.
What I love most about Atelier Sophie is the graphics. The game has one of the most impressive graphics I have seen for an RPG. The anime scenes were well done and the color scheme fit perfectly with the game. I loved the 3D aspect too. Atelier Sophie does a great job of transitioning between animated scenes and 3D graphics. However, when playing the game I noticed that there were a few glitches with the eyes of the characters. Sometimes the eyes would disappear. I also liked that the colors weren’t matte all the time. The game also has multiple difficulty levels easy, medium, and hard. You can switch at any time between them. The controls in this game were not the best on a PC keyboard. The game doesn’t tell you what keys to use on a PC keyboard. You have to figure it out yourself.
Once you complete the story I don’t really see a need to go back and replay the game. Atelier Sophie is a good game for beginners but if you have played your fair share of RPG games and visual novels this game is a tad boring. The story doesn’t have a lot of excitement in it. Your only goal is to help Plachta find her memories. The game’s slow pace doesn’t add to the excitement either. I didn’t really have any motivation to keep playing the game til the end. The side stories are more exciting. Sophie can help people in her party with their goals and dreams. If you enjoy slow-paced games that focus more on daily life this is for you.