By Spencer . July 15, 2009 . 6:04pm
Rorona isn’t a brazen heroine. She’s shy and unsure about her role as the alchemist of Arland. Actually, Rorona is more interested in baking pies than transmuting things for the king.
Since Rorona is a timid and occasionally aloof Atelier Rorona isn’t an epic RPG focused on flashy fights. Combat is basic, it’s even simpler than Atelier Iris. You can attack, select skills like Rorona’s angel shot, flee, and defend from a menu. That’s it unless you’re controlling Rorona who also has item. Early on this is one of the most powerful commands because Rorona and her outspoken ally Cuderia mainly heal themselves with items.
Everything in battle is turn based except for assist moves. When Rorona and her allies take damage an assist meter starts to fill up. One full crystal equals one assist move, which can be used to make a partner deal an immediate follow up attack or cover Rorona from a single hit. Atelier Rorona gives players a generous amount of time to decide if they want to use their assist move to protect Rorona or save it for later. Battles freeze for a few seconds while you make up your mind. I’m pretty offensive so I usually let Rorona take hits and use assist attacks to defeat enemies faster.
Since monsters appear on the field you can avoid them. Fights aren’t the focus of Atelier Rorona anyway. The game is about finding raw materials on the field and combining them to fulfill requests. You’re an alchemist, not a fighter.
Atelier Rorona begins on year one, month one. Keep this in mind because time management is the crux of the game. Each time you enter a field a set number of days pass. The first field, the Neighborhood Woods, has multiple areas where you can search for things seeds. Each time you move into a new area, even if its in the same field you have to spend even more time. The system encourages players to carefully scour every corner for materials instead of speeding through dungeons.
Time is important because events have due dates. When the king sends Rorona a proclamation he expects Rorona to complete the assignment on or before that date. Front quests (i.e. main story quests) also require Rorona to synthesize items before a set amount of time passes. And time in Atelier Rorona flies.
Cooking takes time. Following alchemy recipes takes time and HP. Resting takes time, often multiple days to refill Rorona’s HP. Since Atelier Rorona is open ended you can and, if you don’t have a guide, probably will waste time.
I’m sure I didn’t do everything efficiently, but I figured out a few tricks along the way. First, make batches of items whenever possible, even if you don’t think you’ll need them. As long as you have enough ingredients, making one item or say five items takes the same amount of time. The limits are different with each recipe, but be sure to max out whatever you’re making for the day. Also, you don’t have to make every item. Some items, especially the king’s requests, can be purchased from stores, which can save Rorona time.
Perhaps, you shouldn’t worry too much about how you spend your time. Atelier Rorona is an open ended game with many endings. This might perturb perfectionists because you can’t go down every path in one run of game, but I like it now. The game’s flexible storyline makes Atelier Rorona is relaxing and should give it more replay value.
Atelier Rorona first grabbed attention because of its graphics and Gust did a fantastic job. However, there are little quirks like how you can’t rotate the camera and, if you’re the kind of person who notices strange video game physics, Rorona “floats” back to the ground after jumping. Also, Atelier Rorona isn’t “fully voiced”. Townspeople and even main characters may not speak when you run into them in town. During event scenes, so far, everyone talks.
These are minor details and they shouldn’t be taken too seriously. After all, this is a RPG where you can spend your time making pies instead of saving the world.
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