Atelier Rorona has seen a few ports and remakes since it originally released in 2009 and now, it's available in a brand new DX edition.
Atelier Rorona was the first game in Gust's long-running series to be available for PlayStation 3 and because of that, it acted as many western gamers' introduction to the franchise even though it was the 11th Atelier game. Since then, it's been remade in a Plus edition for PS3 and Vita and it's now available for PS4 and Switch as Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland DX. I'll get into the specific version differences in a bit but for now, I'll just say that Atelier Rorona is one of the most addictive JRPGs that I've ever played. I could say the same thing about most Atelier games but Rorona specifically has a certain charm to it and its simple yet involving gameplay loop is nothing short of habit-forming. Exploring the bite-sized maps while gathering materials and battling foes only to return and use your found goodies to synthesize useful items and complete quests is a joy. If you've never played it before, now is a great time to take the plunge.
Atelier Rorona: original vs. Plus vs. DX differences
Although the vanilla version of Atelier Rorona is a wonderful game in its own right, the Plus version improved upon it immensely by introducing a new post-game scenario, a Time Capsule system, more playable characters, DLC costumes, a garden to grow ingredients, and new maps, monsters, and cutscene illustrations as well as additional refinements and tweaks. This DX version is merely a port of the Plus version but with slightly better visuals. That being said, if you've only played the original then this will be a huge step up. Do you know of any other differences? Share them in the comments below!
As you can see, Atelier Rorona DX doesn't do much to stand out from the fantastic Plus edition so if you already own it on PS3 or Vita then it likely won't be worth upgrading yet again to this DX iteration. However, it is awesome that the DLC costumes are included and it does look great. In fact, it makes the vanilla game seem like a PlayStation 2 JRPG in comparison.
As I've already mentioned, the gameplay loop of Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland is super-addictive and I found it difficult to put down whenever I started playing it. For starters, there are many kinds of quests and each one offers some sort of unique reward. The most satisfying system is the Bingo cards where you achieve certain objectives then stamp a card. When you manage to complete a line, you'll unlock an awesome item or permanent upgrade that can substantially improve your party's chances in battle. Of course, you can also turn in items or defeat enemies for your fellow citizens and there's always the main task at hand which is usually quite easy to complete even with the time limit in place. Watching your party and the game world grow makes for one rewarding adventure.
Atelier Rorona's battle system has always been on the basic side and the fights aren't much more complex in this DX version. Aside from attacking, performing skills, and using items, there's also a support system where characters can defend each other or unleash additional chain attacks after one of their allies makes their move. It's probably because I unlocked powerful equipment early on in my playthrough but I found the battles to be incredibly easy and that lack of challenge definitely took away from the fun of battle. Anyway, if you expect Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland DX to be an easy and simplistic game then you won't be disappointed.
As with all Atelier games, The Alchemist of Arland features a delightful game world that's filled with lovely characters. The story basically involves Rorona inheriting her family's atelier then she tries to make it successful by improving its reputation with the locals. Even though this core plot is as basic as it is, it's the cast of characters who gradually get introduced throughout the adventure that make it a compelling and enjoyable story. Watching Rorona interact with all sorts of personalities makes the game world fleshed out and engaging. Plus, you can even recruit some of the characters to join you out in the field. There's plenty of silly humour and lighthearted moments so if you want a break from dire game narratives then Atelier Rorona will be sure to put a smile on your face.
It may be the best version so far but Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland DX occasionally feels rough around the edges. This is mostly due to odd graphical issues. I played it on PlayStation 4 and noticed plenty of weird flickering between screen transitions. Also, the camera in battle sometimes went through objects thus resulting in a polygonal mess. None of these small visual glitches happened frequently and they definitely aren't substantial but considering the game initially released almost a decade ago, I'm surprised that not everything has been smoothly ironed out in this latest iteration. I guess we'll have to wait until the Ultimate Edition for that.
If you're a JRPG fan who has never played Atelier Rorona or only played the original version then The Alchemist of Arland DX is definitely worth a purchase, especially if you enjoy lighthearted whimsical tales set in delightful worlds.
- + Fantastic entry in the series with all the Plus features and better visuals
- + Addictive gameplay will keep you hooked
- + Delightful game world / lovely characters
- - Doesn't do much at all to differentiate itself from the Plus version
- - Gameplay is overall very basic and easy
- - Occasional weird graphical issues