Atelier Shallie Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea is a game that requires players to be grown ups. You need to manage your own life and schedule. Unlike previous games, where it’s easy to go through the game by completing primary mission after mission, this installment introduces a new system. Here, personal accountability comes into play. You choose what you do to proceed with life tasks, prioritizing what’s important to you.
The Life Task system basically works like this. Since time isn’t an issue in Atelier Shallie Plus, activities result in advancement. Completing main tasks, ones related to the story, are a necessity. These must be done to proceed from point A to point B. Once the main tasks are done, you can pick additional life tasks from body, mind, person and skill categories to complete a chapter. Body tasks involve fighting enemies and gathering items in locations, while mind tasks involve performing odd activities like opening chests, talking to NPCs, jumping, breaking barrels and other actions. Person tasks involve fulfilling requests, shopping and interacting with named individuals and party members, and skill tasks are related to very specific, special monsters and performing alchemy.
Put simply, Atelier Shallie Plus keeps track of these decisions you make. The game looks at what you are and aren’t doing. Your milestones influence further possibilities. If you are spending more time creating items to fulfill missions, earn money and gain experience, the game responds accordingly with additional missions. None of these side missions are missable, which means you can be constantly working toward these greater goals after the main life tasks for each chapter are complete. Experience is earned, progress is made and more life tasks unlock.
It allows for a sense of freedom that isn’t present in other Atelier installments. Time isn’t a limitation anymore. Your own desires are. You determine how you play Atelier Shallie; the game responds. Greater challenges are offered, centered around the things you’ve shown you enjoy doing. Given the diversity of the tasks and natural breakdown, it’s easy to focus in specific sections. You can get through the game by relying only on the areas you enjoy.
Even better, Gust has organized Atelier Shallie Plus’ life tasks in such a way that they can compliment each other. Even if alchemy isn’t your favorite thing, you’ll be moving the game along by occasionally completing skill life tasks with the items you’ve collected from body life task gathering. If you prefer creation, you’ll eventually earn body life skills from fighting in the field while getting the ingredients you need. And, since some person life tasks automatically begin triggering when going through standard interactions, you’ll progress there too. They intertwine in such a way that you can focus on specific areas, but still also do well in other areas without intending to.
We’ve always had some degree of control in the Atelier series. Each one offers an array of requests to complete. We determine who we do or don’t bond with throughout the adventure. Our actions impact our outcomes. Atelier Shallie Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea takes things up by letting us choose our own priorities. I mean, we’re already picking our protagonist, as we decide between Shallistera and Shallotte at the outset of the adventure. By letting us choose our path of advancement, we’re given even more personal accountability to enjoy.