Atelier Marie Remake Preview - What’s Old is New, and Cute
The first alchemist of the evergreen Atelier series is not the best student. In order to actually pass her studies, Marlone — nicknamed Marie — has been given a special assignment. Her task is to run a shop and produce an impressive item from her alchemy skills within five years. While there seems to be next to no shopkeeping, there’s still plenty of work to be done. What I’ve played in the early hours of Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg, has me both delighted and frustrated.
As it’s a mostly faithful remake of the very first entry of the Atelier series, the synthesizing in this game is at its most fundamental level. There are no grids, charts or even traits to be found. Additionally, the ever-present time pressure and fatigue mechanics are present in this early franchise entry, bearing on your crafting capability. The more you synthesize the more you’ll get tired, and the less successful you’ll be, meaning that some days are better off spent in bed.
The primary money-making method is to do quests found at the tavern, these require you to craft or gather items, many of which you’ll have no idea where to find. Other events can be found by paying for rumors or talking to townsfolk, which let me find a hideout of bandits and eventually clear that area. It’s important to make money, as you have to hire your party members with a daily wage (though you are only charged when actually deployed on the world map) and you need to purchase items that reduce the time it takes to craft. While I didn’t mind the passage of time in some games like Atelier Ayesha, which also took days to craft and travel, it seems a bit tougher to manage time-sensitive quests in this entry.
The party members sometimes would snub me for recruiting at random, apparently having their own lives and being “busy”, but through time adventuring, you can befriend them and get special events. An item I needed for a friend’s request was actually acquired through a not-so-fun 2D platforming minigame while out in the world. I can only hope there aren’t too many of those.
Combat in Atelier Marie seems to be a pretty standard turn-based fair, where the use of special abilities will delay one’s place in a turn order. Every little thing you do passes time, whether it’s returning home, battling, or crafting; even gathering a single spot will take an entire day. I find that not being able to travel between gathering areas, without going right back to the atelier, to be rather restrictive, although at least it means I’m not stopped by combat encounters along the way back. The gathering areas typically had about three screens, and I was almost surprised going between them didn’t take up time. I found some quests to be overly tight given how long it takes to reach an area, and that I have to return back, so when I only found three out of four of the stone I needed, the whole venture ended up being a wash.
One of the nicer things about this remake is the ability to remove the time limit, but that’s only for the ending requirements and seems to have little other effect. While I didn’t play the original game, there certainly are differences as the areas can now be freely walked in and you can choose what items to gather, which seems quite a necessary change.
Atelier Marie is absolutely adorable, with the chibi 3D models adapting the original game’s art style very well. It’s all quite packed with detail in the various character models, and while certain elements of the environments are simpler, there’s charming lighting paired with it. Atelier Marie Remake is stunning to look at, even down to the visual novel-style cutscenes with gorgeously illustrated slightly moving sprites. Many of the monster designs I came across were quite different from what I see in recent Atelier games (besides the Punis of course).
Atelier Marie Remake is shaping up to be a gorgeous treat to explore the origins of the Atelier series. While combat and alchemy aren’t terribly challenging, managing your budget and time will be. The game is set to release as a digital-only title on July 13 for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC (Steam).