The Atelier series is no stranger to alluding to past civilizations that were far more advanced than the ones we inhabit in the games. We’ll see artifacts and ruins, some of which can lead to new discoveries or advance plots. In most of these situations, they’re things that happen to exist. They add extra depth and more mysteries to solve. Atelier Dusk Trilogy is different. Its past is a deadly one with a far-reaching effect on the people of the present. This trio’s world is dying, but it is one of the prettier apocalyptic situations.
Each Atelier Dusk Trilogy game becomes gradually more empty. We begin with Atelier Ayesha. It is a world where we still see things like forests with vegetation, greenery and water. We also see skies that don’t always reach the blues we’re familiar with, instead with more subtle and polluted. It’s like there’s a haze casting a pallor over everything. It’s an unnatural sort of beauty, where the sparse accents almost make the flowers that do appear or unnatural skies prettier. Its ruins can be big and accessible, reclaimed by nature. The one where Ayesha’s sister, Nio, disappeared is filled with strange blossoms.
Atelier Escha & Logy’s changes are both more subtle and focused on man-made contraptions that can be rough, but eye-catching. Colseit is filled with people making do. One of the first things you see is a windmill, a necessity to make its orchards fruitful, that is worn-down and patched-up. We have airships that are rudimentary and surrounded by wooden frames, a messy eyesore that is oddly appealing. There are more shades of browns, to grass that might look dried out or dying, skies that are even more hazy and parched wooden roads filled with cracks. The ruins here are floating ones that are even more alien and obviously hazardous. People can’t even safely approach them, providing a while motivation for Escha and Logy’s adventures. But even when we see things falling apart, like deserted railroad tracks or abandoned towns, there’s an artistry to it.
Which can make the third entry, Atelier Shallie, almost feel strange. Here, we see diametrically opposed places and spaces. The situation is so dire by this installment that Shallistera has to come from her dying village to Stellard, a town that still seems to be getting by and thriving, for aid. But while it is pretty and we even have some clear skies, Stellard resident Shallotte shows that there are things like water rationing in effect and class divides between different areas of town. When Stera’s portion of the tale begins, we see her traveling along what was once an ocean and is now barren. Outside of town, we see locations that are empty, barren and filled with skeletons reminding people of what once was there. Inside town, as people play, they start to learn even more about the legacy the past left behind, even with colorful buildings. To see the two so different areas compared is striking and maybe even haunting.
Even its “war machines” are beautiful. In the Atelier Dusk Trilogy, we come across a series of artificially created beings known as the Lincas. They serve as both allies and enemies. The first Linca is an friend in both Atelier Ayesha and Escha & Logy. She is clearly uneasy about living a life as an ordinary human, though the government employee she guards and works with attempts to help her adjust and seems to be making headway as of the second game. The other Linca we meet, in Atelier Shallie, is a more peaceful one who was adopted by and works for the Perriend Corporation’s Gerard. But then, Atelier Ayesha also features an enemy Linca who is dedicated warrior.
Atelier Dusk Trilogy’s Land of Dusk is gradually getting worse. With each game, people are closer to an unlivable planet. But even though things are dark, they are also hauntingly beautiful. As things break apart, they still manage to be eyecatching and somehow inviting.