Atelier as a series has grown exponentially in the west over the last few years. The series that has played the biggest role in its growth is Ryza, a trilogy of games that tells the story of alchemist Reisalin “Ryza” Stout. Atelier Ryza 3 is the latest and most likely final of this sub-series, and we got the chance to preview it ahead of its delayed release next month.
Keeping up the tradition of Atelier‘s totally short and catchy titles, the full name of this installment is Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End and the Secret Key. Despite it being a mouthful, the title does at least tell you exactly what to expect.
The early game story follows a reunited Ryza cast featuring Ryza, Klaudia, Tao, Lent, and Bos. After a fun reunion, the gang hears of a strange rumor that several islands have appeared to the west. These islands are unleashing a strange force that is triggering earthquakes back on Kurken Island. Intrigued, our party members head out to explore the cause.
Throughout its marketing campaign for Ryza 3, developer Koei Tecmo has focused on the scaled-up world of its upcoming entry. Even in the relatively small section of Ryza 3 that we could access in this preview it was apparent why this has been such a focus. Ryza 3 isn’t just the biggest Ryza game yet, but it could also comfortably become the biggest Atelier game.
The world map covers a similar amount of the region as the original Atelier Ryza, but that’s where the similarities stop. Ryza 3‘s environments are scaled up massively, making the forests and cities feel more alive. This is fantastic, as the Ryza games were always known for their exploration and Ryza 3 is poised to deliver on that front better than any of its predecessors.
The joy of exploring the world is only made better by the lush visuals. I already had a soft spot for the colorful nature of Atelier‘s art style, but Ryza 3 offers even more. The character models are as gorgeous as ever, but it’s the improved lighting and the extra details in the environment that elevate Ryza 3‘s presentation.
At least in this preview segment, I didn’t notice too many substantial changes to the core mechanics of Atelier Ryza 3. There are some smaller changes present in combat, but I doubt these will be enough to change if you enjoy the system or not. Keep in mind that I didn’t get the try the keys that are being advertised as the big innovation to combat, so that could change my stance in the future.
Personally, I’ve never been a fan of Ryza‘s hybrid action turn-based combat as I feel that it’s overly complicated and does more harm than good. Although that’s more of a personal taste thing, as there’s nothing inherently wrong or broken about it. To Ryza 3‘s credit, it does a decent job of handling tutorials and making sure that you understand its core mechanics. That’s not something that was necessarily true of either Ryza or Ryza 2.
From what I could tell, crafting isn’t too different but I’m perfectly happy with that. Crafting in the Atelier games is its unique selling point and the Ryza series has always done a fine job of offering a more accessible version of crafting than its counterparts. There are some nice quality-of-life improvements though, like being able to craft required items within a recipe rather than having to back out to do so.
Most Ryza fans will have expected this but Ryza 3 has no English voice acting. Since it wasn’t present in either predecessor, this isn’t surprising, but it still might be a dealbreaker for some. Perhaps a rise in popularity of the Atelier games could bring about an English dub in the West some day.
All in all, our preview of Ryza 3 indicates that it offers exactly what you expect of a sequel. It isn’t trying to overhaul core mechanics or redefine what a Ryza game is. Atelier Ryza 3 takes what fans enjoyed from its predecessors, polishes those features up, and greatly expands upon the world with which these features interact.
Realistically, if you didn’t enjoy either of the first two games, it’s unlikely that Ryza 3 is going to convert you. By the same merit, if you loved either of the first two games I don’t see why you shouldn’t be excited for Ryza 3 too.
Atelier Ryza 3 has a page on Steam ahead of its March 24 release date.