Atelier Totori DX: The Adventurer of Arland Review

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Atelier Totori is the sequel to the game Atelier Rorona on the PS3 developed by Gust. Originally Atelier Totori came out on PS3, but later on developer Gust made two enhanced ports of Atelier Totori called Atelier Totori Plus and Atelier Totori DX for other platforms. These enhanced ports added all the DLC from the PS3 version, bonus bosses and a few other changes to Atelier Totori. For this review I will be reviewing the PC version of Totori DX. Atelier Totori takes place after Atelier Rorona ended and follows a brand new protagonist. You play as Totori who is the apprentice of alchemist Rorona from Atelier Rorona. Totori lives in a small fishing village with her older sister and father. A long time ago her mother went on a voyage out to sea and disappeared. In the village nobody knows what happened to her or if she survived the voyage. Totori wants to become an adventurer like her mother to try and go out to sea to try and see if she can find her missing mother. One day Totori gets a chance to become an adventurer and from there her journey begins.

Graphics:

The graphics of Atelier Totori have a great cel shaded art style and a lot of creativity to it’s area designs. The great character attacks during battle is one of the game’s graphical strong points. In battles characters have cool special attacks where they’ll zoom across the battlefield knocking enemies into the air causing giant explosions and having the enemies get absolutely destroyed. I thought the character designs were mostly pretty good, with some characters such as Mina or Sterk who had really great character designs. However, some other character designs in the game came across as weird. For example, Peter had a strange character design that looked weird and Gino also had a character design that made him look bizarre. So the character design was hit and miss. Another negative of Atelier Totori’s graphics like Atelier Rorona is the enemy variety. You’ll fight mostly the same enemies in this game as you did in Atelier Rorona like Ghosts, Slime enemies, Wolves, Dragons etc. They definitely could have added more enemies to the game to give the game more enemy variety. Overall, the graphics of Atelier Totori are quite good.

Gameplay:

In Atelier Totori you play as Totori a alchemist who lives with her father and older sister in a small fishing village One day Totori becomes determined to become an adventurer and gets an adventurer license to help out townspeople with requests to slay monsters or retrieve items. Throughout the main story of Atelier Totori you will have an adventurers license that has multiple ranks to it. In order to improve your adventurer rank you must help fulfill certain assignments. Some assignments will ask you to turn in items like barrels, bombs, cannons etc. Meanwhile other assignments might give you an objective like defeating a certain number of enemies. Actions such as crafting, traveling to dungeons to fight enemies, fighting enemies and gathering items in areas takes time. Atelier Totori as a game has you on a time limit. Throughout the game you must accomplish objectives in a quick amount of time or else you risk falling too far behind and failing the main story. Atelier Totori unfortunately has a very brutal learning curve and is unforgiving in regards to the time limit. You will need to make sure to really maximize your usage of your time and to be careful not to waste time as you progress through the game. One of the main source of sidequests in the game are what are called requests. You can accept requests at either the kingdom of Arland or at Gerhard’s bar and doing requests will grant you money. For traveling in the game, you exit out to the world map and on the world map you select your destination of where to go.

Exploration in Atelier Totori is pretty simple. Most of the dungeons in the game tend to be on the small side and are generally about one screen long. So you will not have large labyrinth type of areas that are mazes to worry about. However, this can be a negative in some ways too. Since the areas being so small makes exploration take a backseat in a way and makes areas seem too small at times. Fortunately, there’s a lot of areas in the game to explore so it never feels like it’s lacking too much exploration. The later areas of the game also while still being one screen long are a lot larger and do offer more for the player to explore. Once at a area, you’ll be able to approach gather points in the environment to get items. Also you will see enemies in the areas. Battles are initiated by coming into contact with a enemy. However, you can swing Totori’s staff at a enemy to get an advantage when going into a battle. Speaking of battles, let’s talk about the battle system of Atelier Totori DX.

The battles of Atelier Totori are turn based. You have three party members you can use in battle and the combat system shows when each character or enemy will get their turn. Once a character gets their turn they can attack, defend, use skills or if it’s Totori’s turn use items. As you fight, a gauge called the assist gauge will fill up. The assist gauge is filled by attacking during battle and taking damage from enemies. Each time the assist gauge fully fills up it’ll go up a level. When attacking or if a enemy is about to attack Totori you can have a character follow up an attack or jump in front of Totori to guard her from an attack. This is a great addition to the combat that helps add more strategy to the battles of the game. However, beyond that the combat system is standard turn based combat. The only other major gameplay mechanic in the combat is the special gauge which fills up during battles and once fully filled up allows a character to unleash a special Final Fantasy limit break type of attack that usually does a tremendous amount of damage. One thing that was an improvement in Atelier Totori’s combat over Rorona DX’s though was the combat difficulty.

In Atelier Rorona DX I felt the game got too easy towards the middle portion of the game. However, Atelier Totori’s battles were a lot more challenging. Some normal battles would actually put up a challenge and make me worried I could end up dying if I didn’t play smart and made mistakes during battles. The boss enemies in the game meanwhile always put up a good challenge and were a lot of fun to fight. They would usually do high damage, have a fair amount of health and could hit your party members with deadly status effects like poison etc. The combat was very enjoyable in Atelier Totori because of the increased difficulty in comparison to it’s predecessor. In the case that you also want a major challenge in the boss fights Atelier Totori has plenty of optional boss fights and the DX version adds more optional bosses who are extremely tough to defeat. Upon defeating all the enemies in a fight you will gain experience, money called cole in Atelier Totori and ingredients for synthesizing/crafting items. Let’s talk about the crafting part of the game next.

For the crafting portion of the game you can synthesize items. To synthesize the items you gather materials from areas, fightning enemies or completing requests. You then go back to Totori’s Atelier(her workshop) and you can use the cauldron in there to craft/synthesize items or equipment. During the crafting process you choose what materials you want to use to create the item and then the item is made. Each time a item is successfully made Totori will gain experience towards her alchemy level. The more her alchemy level increases the better her success rate when making a higher level item. If Totori fails to make a item it will crumble into dust and not be made successfully. Synthesizing items makes time pass. Each piece of item or equipment takes different amounts of time to craft through alchemy. So you must be very strategic and plan your synthesizing out carefully. At the end of the crafting synthesis process you can add traits from your materials onto the item or piece of equipment you crafted. So if one of the materials you used to make a weapon had two traits of + 6 Speed or + 20 HP you could choose to put those traits on the newly crafted item. However, each item has a limit to how many traits can be put on it. Each trait costs a certain amount of points to put on a new item. So you must carefully choose which traits you want to put on a newly crafted item. The crafting portion with the alchemy and synthesizing is one of the best parts of the Atelier series and Atelier Totori is no exception to this. Crafting and synthesizing items will be essential to progressing through the game.

The main objective of Atelier Totori is to raise your adventurer rank as much as possible in as efficient of a matter as possible. To do so you’ll need to accomplish objectives assigned to you in the quickest time possible. By accomplishing the assignments given to you for adventuring your adventurer’s rank will rise and more locations will be available to travel to. Depending on the accomplishments you achieve you’ll get a different ending. Atelier Totori has multiple endings. Some of them are character endings and then there’s a bad, normal and true ending to the main game’s story. The normal ending isn’t too hard to get. However, the true ending requirements are absolutely ridiculous. To get the true ending of Atelier Totori you must fulfill the requirements to get every other ending in the game and then not trigger any of those endings and do everything else required for the true ending. So you’ll have to meet requirements for basically around 10+ other endings to unlock the true ending. On a 1st playthrough this is nearly impossible without a guide and even with a guide will be extremely difficult. It’s a shame too since the true ending is the canon ending of the game and is by far the most fulfilling ending of Atelier Totori. I understanding making the true ending more of a challenge for players to obtain, but it shouldn’t be a ridiculous challenge to unlock it especially when it’s so essential to concluding the game’s story. One ending in Totori requires the player to obtain 500k cole(money in Totori) to unlock. At the end of my 1st playthrough using a guide heavily I had 28k. So imagine how hard it is to get just that one ending. That’s not even counting the other endings you must meet the requirements for to get the true ending. On the bright side though, Atelier Totori does have new game plus. By doing new game plus you can carry over your money and equipment to your next playthrough of the game. Overall, Atelier Totori’s gameplay’s increased combat difficulty is a welcome addition as is the massive amount of areas to explore compared to this game’s predecessor Atelier Rorona. However, the brutal learning curve of the game is a bad thing for beginners and the true ending requirements are ridiculous.

Story:

Atelier Totori’s story as mentioned prior is about the main character Totori. She lives in Alanya Village a small fishing village with her father and older sister. A long time ago, her mother a famous adventurer who was known throughout the world decided to set out on a voyage to explore uncharted territory. However, she seemingly never returned and was thought of by the village to have passed away. Totori believes her mother is still alive and wants to try and see if she can find her out in the world. She begins as an apprentice of alchemy being taught alchemy by the former Atelier game’s protagonist Rorona. Totori starts off living a simple life in her village doing alchemy and helping out the village and her family. One day her friend Gino a swordsman who enjoys going on adventures convinces Totori to join him in getting an adventurer’s license so they can go on adventures and explore the world. The two of them with some help get an adventurers license and set out to become accomplished adventurers and to hopefully figure out the truth of what happened to Totori’s mother when she set out to sea. The game’s main story is not the focus for most of the story though.

Totori’s story is mostly about the individual characters of the game’s cast and Totori’s bonds with them. As you progress throughout the game and travel with other characters you will raise a friendship level with these characters. As you do, you’ll unlock character events that will explore these character’s backstories and develop them more as a character. The game’s plot is refreshing though because it is not the generic save the world as a chosen hero from a great evil RPG story we’ve seen a million times. Throughout the game, the character interactions are entertaining and the humor of the game is quite good. There’s a lot of funny scenes in the game and as you begin to learn more about the characters of the game you will begin liking them a lot. A great part of the story as well is the interactions between Totori and her family at home. Seeing Totori eat with her family and talk with them as she returns home at various points makes you connect to her family more and this aspect of the game was done well. Eventually, as you progress towards the end of the game the main story will shift back into focus.

Towards the end of the game, the main story has some pretty major plot twists. The game’s story takes a dark turn and there’s some really sad events towards the end of the game’s main plot that were surprising. I felt the way the main story progressed in the end was really well done. Most of the game’s story is upbeat and silly, but the dark turn the story takes towards the very end was executed very well. For the sake of avoiding spoilers I cannot go into details about what happens, but it definitely impressed me when I got to the end of the main story. I feel the game’s later plot twists and dark direction the main story goes in towards the end makes this game have one of the best stories in a Atelier game. The way they connect it back to the main purpose of Totori’s goal and the story itself was done extremely well. As someone who has finished more of the later Atelier games as of writing this review the main story of Totori is definitely one of the best in the series. To get the full effect of the story though players should finish Atelier Rorona prior to Atelier Totori because Totori is a direct sequel to Atelier Rorona and features returning characters/references to Rorona’s characters/plot.

Music:

Atelier Totori has a great soundtrack. In particular, I think a lot of the area themes are incredibly good. The themes of the dungeons you travel to have songs that fit the atmosphere of the areas. For example, a haunted castle with ghosts will have a melancholy theme that contributes to the haunted atmosphere of the area. A lot of the soundtrack is composed of upbeat orchestrated tracks with instruments like violins. flutes and the music has a distinct style. Despite all of that, I do think the boss themes of Atelier Totori were a little disappointing. Some of them are remixes of the normal battle theme and they aren’t that great of remixes of the normal battle theme. In every other regard though, the character themes, area themes and the world map theme were extremely well done. Meanwhile, the voice acting of the game is pretty well done. None of the voice actors for the characters in the game annoyed me and the voice actors fulfilled their roles very well. The voice actors were able to voice act the scenes very well and change their tone to suit what was going on based on the context of what was going on in the game.

Overall:

Pros:

  • Extremely good main story with some surprising plot twists at the end.
  • Great customization and crafting system among the best in a JRPG.
  • Soundtrack has a lot of great area and character themes. Solid main battle theme as well.
  • Combat difficulty was increased from it’s predecessor Atelier Rorona which was much needed. The battles are very enjoyable because of this.
  • Tons of difficult optional bosses if you want a challenge beyond the main story.

Cons:

  • True ending requirements are ridiculous. It is nearly impossible to get the true ending on a 1st playthrough without a guide and even using a guide heavily it is still extremely challenging.
  • Totori has a brutal learning curve. In terms of the time limit part of the Atelier games this is by far the least beginner friendly. There are a lot of beginner traps in the game that can make new players waste time, the game has strict deadlines and it’s easy to make little mistakes that will add up over time.
  • Most of the boss themes are okay nothing special or memorable.
  • Exploration is not as good as Atelier Rorona DX. Many of the dungeons are only one screen, small and gathering items/battling takes up time unlike Rorona DX which discourages exploration out of fear of wasting too much time.
  • Game has a few weird character designs.
  • Unlike Atelier Rorona Plus/DX which got it’s gameplay, graphics and other factors completely overhauled Totori Plus/DX got a lot less improvements. For Rorona DX they improved the combat, the exploration and other aspects of the game significantly while also adding more optional bosses, endings, sidequests etc. Totori DX they kept the battle system the same, the exploration the same and only mostly just added the PS3 DLC, some balance changes and a few quality of life changes. I felt there was a lot more developer Gust could have improved in the Plus/DX version of Totori.

Thank you for reading my Atelier Totori review. Also check out the review for Atelier Rorona DX!

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