The best way to appreciate a classic Atelier series has arrived. Gust and Koei Tecmo have brought about the Atelier Dusk Trilogy, giving people the best DX versions of Atelier Ayesha, Atelier Escha and Logy and Atelier Shallie. While getting everything at once in a compilation is a boon, there are other bonuses. This compilation means we have the easiest way of understanding what is going on in the world of Dusk and best way to see how these games take the idea of daily life and growth and apply them as gameplay concepts.
The Atelier Dusk Trilogy compilation makes it easier to better digest a series where there is this growing mystery and unease in the background. Despair is constant in each of these three titles, even if we have plucky heroines like Ayesha, Escha and the two Shallies with their constant flurry of activity, optimism and passion. (Not that Logy isn’t plucky, but he doesn’t have the same level of enthusiasm.) The world’s situation is getting worse in each game. More people are losing access to water as the dusk sea expands. We see folks struggling and ancient technology continuing to cause trouble.
Since the Atelier Dusk Trilogy covers a decade, this latest combined released helps us see how people tend to deal with these growing incidents. In Atelier Ayesha, her sister Nio is “spirited away” at a ruin. It introduces us to a world where people made mistakes in the past, leading to improperly handled alchemy, malfunctions that are beginning to have major negative effects and even an extremist who has decided the way to deal with it. Everyone is being inconvenienced, but Ayesha and Nio are the only ones who are really put out by what is going on.
Once people are familiar with this world and its hardships, Atelier Escha and Logy kicks things up. We have a more populated town and there is a more central government, but it isn’t great at its job. People are experimenting with ways of handling alchemy now, leading to different approaches to broach issues. Ruins are still dangerous, but we’re learning how they may work, what could be going wrong and perhaps discovering means of addressing problems. We aren’t close to a final solution, but we’re getting close.
This means Atelier Shallie can go in with no holds barred. We know things aren’t right for either heroine or the people around them. Shallotte is trying to find a way to get by and survive. She isn’t respected, she’s struggling to keep her father’s alchemy workshop going, she lives in a less affluent area of a bigger town and yet she keeps hustling. She shows us what life is like as we finally come close to hitting rock bottom, before finally improving. Shallistera shows us the desperation of people who have succumb to the Dusk Sea. Her people have no water. She goes to the central village for help, but no one accepts her, no one listens to her and she sees herself facing one hurdle after another. Through her story, we find out definitive answers.
In each of the Atelier Dusk Trilogy games, seeing how alchemy and a person’s daily life are intertwined is a common theme. With each one, the gameplay evolves to better showcase the balance. In Atelier Ayesha, we have a young woman who doesn’t even see herself as an alchemist. She considers herself an apothecary. Performing actions builds up memory points. When she has enough memories, she can write in her diary. Journaling helps her come up with new ideas. Everything she experiences will bring her closer to solving Nio’s predicament within the three-year time limit.
With Ayesha, we had someone who was approaching things from a personal angle. Both Escha and Logy are professionals and government employees in Atelier Escha and Logy. This means that their growth is dependant on clearing government tasks. Working can speed up their possible developments and get them to different goals. There’s still a sense of drive, but we see what happens when other people get involved and there is more structure. We also get assignments from the government every four months, with each period having over 20 of varying sizes for the employees to complete.
Both of the Shallies are in situations where the progression systems in Atelier Ayesha or Escha and Logy wouldn’t work for them. Stera is trying to prove herself and get the help her village needs. Lotte wants to make a living, but can’t get a steady job. So their game adopts a Life Task system. There are multiple ways people can help each heroine achieve their goals, such as using alchemy to create items or heading into dangerous situations to fight monsters. What you do determines the sorts of tasks that can come up, which help propel you forward. Since there is no one immediately fading away and no government keep watch, there are no time limits.
People who pick up Atelier Dusk Trilogy on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 or PC are getting to directly see how a world and everyone living in it grow. We watch as a situation grows more dire and people do more to adjust and survive. Atelier Ayesha begins with a more focused game that has a strict limit and a tragedy primarily influencing two characters’ lives. Atelier Escha and Logy’s scope grows, looking at how a government responds and professionals react. Then, with Atelier Shallie, we hit the peak. Even more people are in dire straights and two young women do all they can to try and survive. The collection gives us this complete and comprehensive sense of growth and scale, as well as the payoff players deserve.