Atelier Ryza Ever Darkness and the Secret Hideout was one of my favourite games of 2019. A cute, charming and engaging RPG from a franchise that I knew nothing about. It soon had me hooked and telling all and sundry about this wonderful Japanese RPG from Koei Tecmo.
Now, Just a mere 446 days later the sequel Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & The Secret Fairy has arrived on console and PC. That is an incredibly short time of 1 year, 2 months and 19 days between launches of the two games so surely the quality must have dropped drastically in the sequel right? Surprisingly…not!
The events of Atelier Ryza 2 (I’m not typing out the full name every time!) take place three years after the first game. The alchemist extraordinaire Ryza has finally left Kurken Island behind and arrived in the capital city of Ashra-am Baird after receiving a letter from Tao about some new ruins he has discovered.
After learning in the first game that children’s songs were actually historical legends Tao has been studying another little childrens rhyme that mentions five seals being broken. He has discovered a set of ruins older than any ruins he has seen before and so Ryza’s new adventure begins.
It is long until she is reunited with old friends such as Bos, Lent, Claudia, Empel etc. As well as been joined by new faces such as Patty, Clifford and Fi.
Now if you havent played the first Atelier Ryza game than you should. It is fantastic. But don’t worry about not understanding the Story in Atelier Ryza 2. Whilst familiar faces from the frist game return you don’t really have needed to play the previous title in order to understand what is going here. There are a few oblique refrenced to the adventure of three years ago but nothing that stops you from enjoying this title.
Atelier Ryza 2 is a beautiful game with such a light area world and dark oppresive ruins/dungeons. The world is full of colour as if the game is a celebration of live itself. LAndscapes are alive with a myriad of diverse monster. Some (like wyverns) can feel intimateding whilst the cute little puni will laeve questioning your own morals as you order Ryza to smack its smilling lovable face in with a staff.
As with all JRPG you do have the over sexualisation of women but in Atelier Ryza 2 defence this is incredibly toned down compared to other games. There will be the usual argument over the un proportional breast sizes of the young women featured in the game. Personally for me I have to question if there was really a need to make Ryza’s white shirt become clingy and semi- transparent when it rains. It seems a pointless addition that really brings you out of what is a wonderful story that explores friendship and connections as much as it does adventure and magic.
Just like the previous title Atelier Ryza 2 sees you progressing the stroy until you unlock a set of ruins that need to be explored. But things are quite different this time around. Instead of running through the ruins, killing everything, collecting materials and progressing the story you now have to solve the puzzle ofthe ruins.
Upon entering the ruins you will be given a list of objectives to meet. Complete these objectives and You comapss will activate meaning you can now scour the ruins looking for memories, fragments and phantoms. Collect the memories and then you have to open the exploration diary and put the memories into their correct spaces.
This adds a new depth to the ruins and expands on the game’s lore. When you complete each dungeon you really do have a sense of the society that used to inhabit it. It may not sound like much but it really does complete change Atelier Ryza 2 from just been another RPG/dungeon crawler/ monster-slaying game to one that has a feel of archaeology and respect for the history behind it.
Has with any JRPG the fights are where the game lives or dies. The battles in Atelier Ryza 2 are frantic, fast and sometimes complex (even though they are essentially turn based).
Every action in batlle requires AP. This is gained be using your weapon to hit enemies. Gain AP and use abilities or items. This will increase your tactic level and you can hold more AP enable you to use more items, stronger abilities or even chain abilities together!
You control one character in your party while the remaining two party members act dependent on the mood you have set. They can either just use their weapons and action orders or be told to use AP as and when it comes available.
During battles, your allies will call out for you to do a specific action such as “Cause physical damage” or “Cause magical damage” doing this action while requested will trigger an Action Order. This is basically an overpowered ability that costs zero AP. So I highly recommend you trigger them whenever possible.
The moves and abilities look amazing and sometimes quite frankly mental. This can mean battle can be super fast and frantic with only a couple of button presses but is a wonderful sight to behold. Boss battles become a wonderful mix of frantic over the top action and deep tactical thought borne out of meticulous planning.
If you have played Atelier Ryza before then you will you know exactly what I am talking about here and be happy to know it has had a bit of a tweak for the better. The crafting system in Atelier Ryza 2 is, without doubt, the most in-depth, creative and amazing crafting system I have seen a game. To the point that I have spent at least an hour gathering materials before spending another hour making high-quality ingredients to make an actual item!
The simplest way I can describe the crafting system is that instead of having a traditional recipe such collect these 3 items make this thing approach to crafting, Altlier Ryza 2 uses material loops. Each item is put into an item category such as ore, plant, insect etc. Then you choose which material you use to create your item. Some items will increase the quality of the item you are crafting whereas others may add new traits or effects that can be passed along to the finished item.
For example. instead of having a recipe for medicine being something simple like two x green flower you can use any plant in the game to create medicines with differing effects. The recipe I used at the beggining of the game gave me a small health boost. Further on in the game the same recipe gave me a mdium helath boost and health regen thanks to the different plants that I used in the crafting process.
This level of control is amazing and one of the most unique things I have seen in gaming. I would be more than happy to play a game that was just gather ingredients, craft using this method, sell items in the shop. Thats it. Take my money!
Originally I was worried that just over a year was a ridiculous amount of time to get a sequel but Atelier Ryza 2 is wonderful. It is anything groundbreaking compared to the first but it does have a few little tweaks and polishes where needed that not only enable Atelier Ryza 2 to belong to the franchise but also means it can stand on its own as a brilliant game and one I can’t recommend enough.
The main story cana time feel a little n the rails but the constant side quests from city residents, material gatherinng for crafting means there is always plenty to do in Atelier Ryza 2. This is not going to be an easy or quick platinum to achieve.
Final Score – 9/10
This review was for the PS4 version of Atelier Ryza 2 and was played on the PS5. Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & The Secret Fairy is available now for PS4 with a free PS5 upgrade.