Atelier Dusk Trilogy Deluxe Pack Review
Out of all the Atelier games, the Dusk Trilogy is easily my favorite of the bunch. The games that make up this trilogy are Atelier Ayesha, Atelier Escha & Logy, and Atelier Shallie. There’s something about these three games that have always stood out to me, and I seriously think this is where Atelier peaked (specifically with Escha & Logy). They have the perfect balance of setting, gameplay, music, aesthetics, and story. The alchemist gameplay loop meshes surprisingly well with the story about a dying world, but it never loses Atelier’s hopeful message and wholesome character interaction. They originally released on PlayStation 3, but received expanded 'Plus' ports on PlayStation Vita that included all of the original DLC with new recruitable characters, new costumes, and more story.
If there was one big flaw to these “Plus” versions, its that they were trapped on the Vita. Both the resolution and frame rate took a hit, and personally I was always sad that these amazing games weren’t able to be accessed by a large number of people. Thankfully Koei Tecmo must have been reading my fanmail, because they’ve decided to bring these expanded ports to modern systems. The Atelier Dusk Trilogy Deluxe Pack takes the content of the Plus versions and combines it with graphics and performance even better than the original games were on PS3. We covered the original Plus versions on the site when they came out years ago, so this will not be a review of the games by themselves. I love these three games to death, and while I’ll be occasionally bringing up elements of them if you want to see our full coverage check these out below:
I played these three games on Switch since I prefer my Atelier games to be portable and my first experience with them was with the Vita versions. On all systems, they target 1080p and a solid 30 fps like on PS3, but they even look a bit nicer than they did before. When you undock your Switch or play on the Lite, you’re getting these games at 720p. Even though the models and animation are clearly from the last generation, the stunning art direction from Hidari and environmental shading make them still look great today. The texture quality still holds up today, and it's nice to play an Atelier game that looks so crisp on a portable screen. I never saw any frame rate dips, and all three games still look stunning undocked.
Escha & Logy and Shallie offer significant improvements to the visuals over Ayesha, but even Ayesha still looks rather nice today. If you’ve only played these games on PS3 you’re likely to just be excited to play these games as nice as they looked before but with all the new content. If you’re coming primarily from the Vita versions as I did though, this significant improvement to the visuals and performance is incredible. If you’ve never played these games before, you’re in for three beautiful games that also feature some of the most addicting gameplay you’ll find in an RPG.
If all Gust and Koei Tecmo added was a touch up to the visuals, I’d be happy but there wouldn’t be much to talk about. While the Atelier games feature wholesome tales of people banding together to solve problems in both society and their own conflicts, the gameplay loop is probably is what keeps many people coming back. Outside of participating in fun turn-based battles, everything you do revolves around a set of Alchemy mechanics that evolve with every game. I’ll simplify it greatly for those who haven’t played one of these games before, but usually, you’ll have a request that involves synthesizing items for either your hub town or ones you visit. To gather material to synthesize, you need to go out on expeditions to the surrounding areas. You find both enemies and gathering spots here, and the results of these encounters will fill up your baskets. After that, you make your way back to your alchemy pot to combine these ingredients into new items, then turn them in for a reward or using them to make even better items.
Accomplishing these missions will fill up your tasks, which will go towards story progression. Ayesha is the most unfocused of the three when it comes to this, but the other two games make long strides to streamlining the progression mechanics and making things flow much better. Even with these improvements to the pace that Escha & Logy brought to the formula (which can not be understated enough, Escha & Logy’s gameplay loop is the most addicting of the entire franchise), these Deluxe versions actually offer further improvements by letting players speed up the game speed. On the field there’s an added Run mechanic accessed by pressing in the left thumbstick, speeding up how your main characters traverse the overworld. While there weren’t any new sprint animations made for this, since the normal animation is just sped up, it makes gathering and moving through the areas much more efficient. It can look a little awkward depending on who you’re playing as, but this optional improvement goes a long way on replays. They also went as far as to implement this into the combat, letting you speed things up by 1.5 or 2 times the normal speed of battles. This is most useful for Ayesha’s combat since its the slowest of the three, but it was still a nice addition to the other two games.
Like with the Plus versions, all three DX versions of the Dusk games include both English and Japanese voice acting. It's important to mention that while these games have very high-quality English voice tracks, they were recorded in a time where the industry was in a very different position. Atelier was a lot less popular in the west, and the localization team could not afford to dub all the lines in all the games. All of the important scenes were recorded, so the core story is still presented with voice acting, but a lot of the fun side scenes were not voiced in English. With each game, there was able to be more voice acting included, but it might be a bit disappointing compared to the full voice acting in the Japanese voice track. There has been no new voice acting recorded for these modern ports. This might be a big deal for some, but I wasn’t expecting it to begin with. Regardless of which voice track you pick, you’re in for a treat. I played Ayesha in English for nostalgia reasons, Escha & Logy in Japanese to experience my favorite Atelier game in a different way, and Shallie in English. Besides this, the BGM Change menu has been updated to include tracks from Atelier Sophie, Firis, and Lydie & Suelle.
You have no idea how happy I am to wholeheartedly recommend these ports to people. They’re the perfect versions of the best Atelier games ever made. The price might seem a bit steep and them being only digital in the West is unfortunate, but trust me when I say they’re completely worth it. If you’re still hesitant and can really only get one of these, then at least get Escha & Logy. The other games are great, but Escha & Logy is one of my favorite games ever made. The gameplay is honestly perfect, the story is touching, and the soundtrack still hasn’t been topped by an Atelier game since. The entire Dusk series felt like GUST flexing their talent for three whole years, and I hope these ports coming out means the release of a fourth game in this trilogy like with Atelier Lulua and the Arland Trilogy.