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Game review: Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key

The Atelier JRPG series has been going on for quite a while now, but Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key is the first time I have been exposed to the series. If you are a big fan of the JRPG genre, there is a lot to like about this game and what it offers.

If you’re unfamiliar with Atelier Ryza, you don’t have to worry too much if you did not play previous entries in the series. Before you begin playing, Koei Tecmo has added a video recap of the two previous games to get you up to speed with the story. This is helpful for any newcomers like me to be familiar with the story and what the characters have been up to. Atelier Ryza 3 has an interesting story as the main character, Ryza, has to investigate what is happening when some strange new islands appear. Ryza isn’t alone in her adventure because this game offers a generous number of 11 playable characters. This is the most number of playable characters in series history.

Graphically, Atelier Ryza 3 mostly looks impressive if you are playing the game on a newer console like the PS5. The game includes an expansive and huge open world that is full of colourful, diverse locations. Not to mention the character models look like they come straight from an anime. 
However, the graphics are less than impressive if you play the game on PS4. Not only are the loading times long, but the environments lack detail when playing this game on last-generation hardware. I cannot comment on the Switch version, but I assume the PS5 and PC are the best platforms to play this game on.

Even though this game features a large open world for you to explore, the best part about the game is its generous fast travel option. When you venture around the map, your main goal is to seek out landmarks so that you can fast travel back to a location you already explored. The most helpful thing about the fast travel is that you can go back instantly to Ryza’s hideout to replenish the team’s health if you just had to endure a tough dungeon full of bad guys.

Speaking of bad guys, I really enjoyed the modernised combat system that has been added to Atelier Ryza 3. I played Octopath Traveler 2 earlier this year, and I didn’t really like that game for several reasons. This game had turn-based combat, but it also had annoying random battles! Random battles are one of my biggest pet peeves, and I never like to see them in modern JRPGs.

Thankfully, Atelier Ryza 3 is much different than Octopath Traveler 2 because there are no random battles whatsoever! If you see an enemy on the map, you can either avoid them or approach them to start a battle. 
Another great thing about Atelier Ryza 3 is its combat system. Turn-based combat is always iffy to me because you cannot block or evade enemy attacks. In this style of combat, you just have to stand in one position and bear the brunt of all enemy attacks.

In Atelier Ryza 3, movement is still limited, but the developer gives you the option to block enemy attacks. When you block at the right time, you can counterattack enemies. Combat is also semi-active, as you can mash the face buttons to tell your character to attack.

Aside from normal attacks, you can hold the shoulder buttons to access character-specific skills. These do more damage to your opponents, and you can also initiate combos too. Another thing I like about the combat is that you can switch to another party member at any time. The AI will also allow you to do team attacks at certain points in battle too.

Even though you still need to level up to stay competitive against enemies, one of the game’s other big gimmicks is crafting new weapons and items. In the open world, there are a ton of natural resources that Ryza can collect. When you go back to her home base, you can use a cauldron to craft weapons or items to help you in battle. She also can make special keys to access different areas of the map.

While the game is enjoyable by JRPG standards, there is a lot of dialogue to sift through, and the game has a very slow start. If you don’t like games with a lot of cutscenes, you may not like this game’s slower pace. 
Another thing worth mentioning is that this game does not have an English dub whatsoever. Probably due to time constraints, the only audio you can hear is the Japanese dub. Obviously, English subtitles are offered for those of us who don’t speak Japanese.

Aside from a few minor flaws, Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key is an enjoyable game with great combat and colourful graphics. You may want to play the game on newer hardware, though, since the PS4 version has long loading times and outdated graphics.

Verdict: 8.5/10

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