Developed by Gust in 2010, and released a year later in the rest of the world, Atelier Totori is the 12th installment in the long running Atelier series. It is also the second game in the Arland trilogy on the PS3, and is the sequel to the game Atelier Rorona.
Some of you are probably scratching your heads thinking “what the fuck is the Atelier series and how are there 12 games already?”. Don’t worry, it has a small fanbase and isn’t very popular, so chances are most of you haven’t played the PS2 games.
The Atelier series is a departure from other RPG’s where there’s a large focus on using alchemy to synthesize items instead of promoting itself as an epic tale.
Taking place 5 years after the first game, Atelier Rorona, you play as the titular character Totori who, as the subtitle suggests, has a dream to become an adventurer and discover the whereabouts of her mother, who has been missing for years. As you soon find out, Totori is an alchemy student of the previous game’s heroine Rorona, who is going around the countryside looking for her old teacher.
You gain your adventuring license about 30 mins into the game, and most of the game consists of you wandering around the world doing either fetch quests or monster hunting for the Adventurer’s Guild, with bits of the story here and there to progress the plot. Unlike the previous game, this game has a story that feels like it actually matters more. The previous game followed sort of a Harvest Moon type of deal where Rorona has X many days to make the alchemy lab prosper, or risk shutting down, while this one makes you continue because you’re curious about what happened to Totori’s mother.
For such a non story heavy game, there’s a fairly decently sized cast full of colorful characters, with a handful returning from the previous game. The game also has a very large emphasis on kawaii, which you’ll soon discover with its heavy focus on mostly female cast members, and many of the male characters are either uninteresting, or unimportant. So unlike games like Dark Souls and Skyrim where it’s all testosterone filled badassery, this game focuses heavily on kawaii instead. Despite having cutesy shojo style artwork, you’ll soon discover that the kawaii nature of this game is heavily catered towards guys, especially with its very questionable dialog that appears from time to time. While some of the dialog is just silly stuff discussing who has a cuter butt, there’s some pretty heavy lesbian subtext, especially with the character Melvia who you’ll find out molests Massages Totori and her friend Mimi, and a few other questionable deeds. So it’s strange seeing molestation jokes about groping 14 year old girls, but it’s totally acceptable when they’re getting molested by another girl because yuri is totally hot. So it’s reassuring to know that it’s only considered child molestation if it’s an older man touching a 14 year old girl.
While it’s not to say this game is not girl friendly (there’s a large female fanbase), and not dangerous for your little sister to play. It does get a bit too silly at times, especially when the town creeper Peter makes you go out and find 8 beautiful women for the town festival and later reveals it as a dubious plot to host a swimsuit contest. There are a few instances where it comes off like some weird otaku wrote a few PG scenes of his favorite yuri pairing.
The game has voice acting, and the female voice actors (excluding Pamela) are pretty good and even has a few known anime voice actresses like the famous Wendee Lee,Cristina Vee, and Cassandra Morris. The male actors range from decent to meh. The game does have the option for the Japanese audio, but you’ll probably end up changing the voices back to English because all of the female characters almost all sound the sameand have the high pitched kawaii voice, so the really high pitched voices can start to get grating after awhile. As you can see, Japanese voices don’t always make things better, unless you’re one of those weaboos who demand everything is Japanese, but fuck those guys anyway.
Known as Totori for short, she’s the protagonist of the game. She’s 13 in the Japanese version, and 14 in the North American releases, because somehow that one year makes a huge difference when it comes to molestation jokes. Anyway, she follows the moe archetype of the clumsy girl, and she’s very optimistic. She’s one of those super girly girls, and likes cute things.There’s times where it feels like she has more sense than her friends because Melvia is crazy, and Rorona can be like a big kid.
Known as Ceci for short (pronounced Setsi), she’s Totori’s overprotective older sister. Since their mother’s been missing since Totori’s childhood, Ceci doubles up as the motherly figure in Totori’s life, as she’s the housekeeper, cook, and the one who bitches at Totori for fucking up everything. She’s an NPC, but if you really like her, she’s available as a paid DLC character where you can have her in your party. The town creeper Peter is in love with her, but he’s too much of a loser to confess to her.
Totori’s childhood friend, and the first person to join you in your party. He also shares Totori’s dream of being an adventurer. Since he’s Totori’s childhood friend, there’s a lot of shipping going on between the two of them, because we all know he wants her V.
The next person to join your party is Melvia, or Mel for short. She’s the sexy, yet skilled, adventurer who is renowned for her monster strength, and she’s legal age. She’s a highly recommended person to have in your party based on her strength and her ass-kicking skills. She’s also the pervert of the game, as she’s groped all of the female party members, which is why Mimi gave her the nickname, Molester Woman. Rorona calls her Mellie because she thinks it’s cute.
Mimi Houllier von Shwarzlang:
Winner of the most ridiculous name award, Mimi is the required tsundere character in the game. She’s those mouthy girls who loves bragging that she’s from a rich family. She’s the same age as Totori and also aims to be a renowned adventurer. She claims she joins Totori’s party because she needs someone with alchemy skills in her party, but they really do a half-assed job of explaining that. She seems to be really good friends with Totori, but because she’s a tsundere, she’ll never admit that. She’s surprisingly polite to Ceci, and has grown up very well in Atelier Meruru. She fights with spears and has pretty decent strength.
Known as Rorona for short, she’s the formerly underaged protagonist of the first game, and is Totori’s alchemy teacher. She’s best friends with Cory at the Adventurer’s guild, and like Totori, she’s pretty clumsy. She joins your party later on in the game, and you get to use her workshop when you’re in Arland. She creates the homunculus Chim to help you with alchemy, and loves pie. She fights with bombs, which is very helpful as it can attack multiple enemies at once.
Those are the more important characters, there’s many more, but that just ruins the fun of the game.
Much of the game consists of you doing various fetch quests or going on hunts. As the game progresses, you have two bases of operation. Your house in Alanya Village, and Rorona’s in the capitol Arland. At your bases, you have the option of saving your game, using alchemy to synthesize various items, or go to sleep to regain health and MP used to synthesize. Also the towns your bases are in are also the only two places to pick up the job requests, and to report them to gain gold and extra synthesis ingredients. Arland is the only place where you can update your job license, and to order weapons and armor.
With your adventuring license, you can gain points by doing the various jobs, or by exploring various regions in the overworld. So it’s best to periodically visit Cordelia in the Adventurer’s Guild and see if you rack up enough points. With the weapons and armor, you must collect the required ingredients first, and then Hagel will forge the weapons and armor for you.
Another feature of this game is that there’s a time limit. The game progresses in days, and synthesizing and traveling across the overworld takes up days. So anyone completely unfamiliar with the series will probably not be able to manage their time well enough to beat the final boss in their first playthrough, but luckily the way the game is, you can transfer your equipment over in a new game plus.
Monster battles are largely standard turn base battles. The only thing that’s a little different is that monsters appear in lines, so certain attacks can attack monsters in either a horizontal or vertical line, while Rorona’s bombs can attack a large sum of monsters at once.
Graphically the cell shaded anime graphics are pretty nice. There are a few annoying instances: like how the game isn’t fully 3D. It’s sort of like Final Fantasy X where everything is 3D, but it’s all a fixed camera angle, you’d think that a game on the PS3 is fully capable of being completely 3D with rotating cameras. Another thing is that all the story and dialog is done in visual novel style. Where they show just an image of the character that’s talking, and change their expression to match the emotion. It seems a bit lazy that they can’t fully animate the character models when they’re talking.
Not much to say about the music, but it’s alright. It’s decent and matches the kawaii nature of the game, but outside of that, there’s not many standout tracks, though I do have to say the theme song during the title opening is fucking atrocious. Though if you really enjoy the game, you can buy the OST off of the PSN in the DLC section.
Atelier Totori is one of those games that one shouldn’t really take seriously, as it doesn’t doesn’t present itself as a serious game. So while it’s not an RPG that prides itself as an epic tale, it’s like a nice breather where you just spend time collecting items to synthesize or fighting monsters. So while not a memorable game, it’s one of those games that are a nice way to kill time. So if you’re okay with kawaii and blatantly obvious yuri, then you should be able to stomach this game.
So in a nutshell, Atelier Totori is not for those who are serious gamers, but if you just want a relatively simple game as a breather, then Atelier Totori is for you.
Visuals (Or Graphics): 7/10.