Atelier Totori Plus – Getting to Know You

By Kris . April 6, 2013 . 10:30am

Atelier Totori Plus is… relaxing. And that’s somewhat strange to me. I’m typically most drawn to games that are somewhat demanding of their players, or force you to suffer a bit before you enjoy them, but Atelier Totori Plus didn’t do that. Instead it just let me take things at my own pace, slowly endearing its world and characters to me.

 

Atelier Totori Plus centers around Totooria "Totori" Helmold, a young girl with a cursory knowledge of alchemy. Despite the fact that a sizable percentage of her syntheses explode in her face, because she’s one of only three alchemists in the world, she has quite a reputation. Outside of people wanting her to create them things, however, she wants to become a great adventurer like (and hopefully to find) her missing mother.

 

However, the steps towards becoming a great adventurer sort of go hand-in-hand with becoming a great alchemist. After finding her way from her rural hometown Alanya to the bustling city Arland (both are in the country of Arland, so it’s a tad confusing at first), she’s given an adventurer license and told to… take care of monster-slaying, material-gathering, and item-synthesizing quests, which Totori notes is very similar to what she did before becoming an adventurer. As she does so, she’s joined by an assortment of friends and fellow adventurers, is visited in her workshop by a number of strange people, and gets to know the shopkeepers and townspeople around her. 

 

That’s basically the game in a nutshell. You take missions, go out to find the items or monsters that you need, and get to know people as you explore. All the while, you’re building up points to rank up as an adventurer. If you need to synthesize something, you might have to find an alchemy book or do a few other syntheses to level up your alchemy beforehand. Even with time ticking along as I did these missions (stopping to harvest marked materials takes half of an entire day!), I never really found myself overly stressed or faced with challenges that seemed initially insurmountable. I was always comfortable.

 

Even combat is pretty laid back. Totori is joined by two other adventurers at any time. Totori is basically in charge of item usage,  healing or otherwise (you practically need to have a few weaponized items when you go exploring, since Totori’s standard attacks do very little damage). She’s rather weak on her own, which is why it’s handy that your other two characters are effectively her bodyguards. In addition to being able to dish out more damage item-free, if one of your enemies is directing an attack at Totori and you have enough of a quickly refilling gauge filled up, you can call your assistants to hop in front of her and block the attack. Should you have Totori use an offensive item (such as an AOE explosive), they can use that gauge to do follow-up attacks instead of blocking. It’s a nice little risk and reward system nested within standard turn-based combat. Like the mission structure of the game, it’s comfortable and enjoyable.

 

However, while I was relaxed, the game never really felt like it was playing itself. Progression felt determined by where I explored and what I was synthesizing.

 

At one point, I wandered into an area that I hadn’t visited before to find some harvestable rocks. After gathering them, I’d realize that they could be synthesized into bombs with the book I’d purchased a few months beforehand. If I had Totori use those bombs I could defeat more powerful monsters more quickly and explore more places to get more alchemical components, which would allow me to complete more missions and rank up as an adventurer, as well as have more bonding moments with my increasing number of party members.

 

Admittedly, I was a bit skeptical when I first started playing Atelier Totori Plus. When I saw the way that Totori ran and how she was constantly portrayed as airheaded and inept, I was a bit worried that that would be the extent of her personality. While there’s definitely an occasionally overwhelming focus on cute girls doing cute things, I found myself growing fond of the characters and the world they inhabited. For instance, one of my favorite characters was the weaponsmith Hagel Boldness. Aside from having one of the greatest last names of all time, his hidden desire to have amazing hair and tendency to call everyone younger than him kiddo immediately drew my interest. In a lot of other RPGs, the weapon shop guy would be a menu or a picture, but every time a cutscene was triggered upon entering his shop, it put a smile on my face.

 

While I wouldn’t have expected to enjoy the characters as much as I did, they added to the relaxing nature of the game. I found myself losing hours to the game just to see what they’d be doing next. Totori’s dad, Guid seems to simply fade in and out of existence, always surprising his daughters whenever he comments on one of their conversations. They have no idea how he manages to disappear so easily. One of your party members, Mimi Houllier von Schwarzlang, has a very acrid personality at first, but Totori’s kindness starts to win her over… unfortunately, because of the way that Mimi typically acts, Totori doesn’t notice her attempts at friendship, which just makes Mimi madder. Written out like this, it sounds incredibly quaint, but since you’re constantly interacting with different characters and learning about them, it feels like you’re part of a community. It’s a nice feeling, one that I don’t get from a lot of games.

 

While Atelier Totori Plus is basically what you’d get if you tried to design the opposite of an action game like Devil May Cry 3, I can’t help but like it. Even though I was initially hesitant, I was drawn in by Arland and its citizenry. It’s not what I’m used to, but it’s a great game to unwind with at the end of a busy day.

 

Food for Thought:

1. Atelier Totori Plus is a good fit for a portable system. It’s the kind of game that works quite well in short bursts, and I don’t think I would have enjoyed it quite as much on a console.

 

2. While the game is a good fit for the Vita and looks quite good on it, it’s sometimes a bit jarring that it seems to try to target 60FPS and occasionally is hit with some heavy and inexplicable slowdown. It’s not that bad, but it’s noticeable.


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  • Alex Sargeant

    I really like how Meruru takes the series as well. This trilogy especially has a really nice feel of just using alchemy to better the world rather than stop some giant force for evil.

    Unless it’s one of the joke endings. Where Alchemy is used for weird and amazing purposes. I think my favourite part of these games is that they actually have ways for you to replay the game and do -better-. Most RPGs have that straight progression, but the effect of being Rank Gold say in Totori at the end of Year 2 rather than Year 3 can really change the amount of stuff you can see and do by the end of the game.

  • Freud_Hater

    Fiiiine, I’ll give it a try, then… But it better be good, mister Siliconera article-publishing guy >:(

    • Saraneth

      I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re already a fan of the series. I just finished it and while the gameplay was fairly fun, it felt kind of pointless since the story was barely developed and is only developed at all near the end of the game. The characters have some depth, but most of their interactions are extremely predictable and stereotypical. It’s mostly fluff. That said, it was good enough for me to finish the game, but it wasn’t anything remarkable and wasn’t worth $40.

      • http://linkapics.tumblr.com/ Linka

        I feel like Totori is not a game you get into for the story. It’s a game that’s short and meant to play through multiple times, given how there’s a high number of endings, including a bad ending, normal ending, and true ending, along with character endings, and much of the enjoyment is from making new and interesting things, and tweaking your synthesis to create amazing items.

        Also, the story gets developed earlier depending on how quickly you can start the scene that sets it off. After that, you get a lot more areas to explore that are best done in NG+ or higher, as well as not only establishing things for the normal ending, but also setting you up to be able to go for the true ending.

        Really, the worst of it is that it’s a bit of a guide dang it for some requirements, but it’s fun regardless to go through and explore in.

      • Xeawn

        I have to disagree with you. I normally play action adventure, RPG, monster hunting and fighting games, but like I mentioned on my site here: http://bit.ly/XkyIE2

        I came into game having never played them before, and I absolutely loved it. It’s nice to have a game that’s just fun, happy, interactive and deep in its own simplicity. More often than not I find myself playing this instead of finishing Gravity Rush or Fire Emblem: Awakening.

        • Saraneth

          Yes, the simplicity and cheerfulness was charming. But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t have a story and it doesn’t mean that the character interactions had to be so cliched and predictable. Every single dialogue scene in the game can be seen in dozens of low-quality anime series. The writing in the game is lazy until near the end. The writers could have had compelling story arcs for the characters’ development but instead the characters chatter about meaningless things and you have to see the same stupid jokes about Guid’s lack of presence and Sterk’s scariness again and again. Atelier Totori+ isn’t a bad game. It’s just mediocre.

        • ShadowDivz

          I know what you mean. It’s nice having to save the world every 10minutes. But sometimes i just want to, you know…. enjoy it?

      • Ladius

        I have to disagree, Totori does a great job for what it is. Of course you will be unhappy if you expected the stereotypical jrpg plot about saving the world and epic fights, since this game is centered upon slice of life interactions and the slow pursuit of Totori’s reasearch of her mother. That said, the game’s pace actually makes its boss fights and important events feel far more memorable and cathartic than in many other jrpgs exactly because of this kind of build up.

        • Freud_Hater

          Such differing, well-argumented points of view… I-I don’t know where to stand, now! T__T

          I’ll give it a shot. Worst case scenario, it’s only 40 bucks. Just gotta work about three hours to make up for it XD

        • Saraneth

          I expected the slice of life stuff, but I was hoping it would be good slice of life. There were some good cutscenes, such as most of the ones with Ceci and Mimi, but they were mixed in with a bunch of pointless, unnecessary ones. Yes, I get it. People tend to not notice Guid. I don’t need to see the same stupid, cliched joke twenty different times. I also don’t need to see Sterk scaring someone with his remarkably unscary face twenty different times. I found myself skipping through the cutscenes, something which I usually never do, because the writing was just so cliched, predictable, and bad. Also, the story really should have been paced better. You think it makes the significant scenes more memorable because they were all at the end. To me, it made the first 3/4 of the game boring storywise.

          • Ladius

            Sorry, we will have to agree to disagree here. I didn’t found interactions in the Arland trilogy cliched, not because there aren’t obvious tropes (there are), but because the narrative is so unique compared to every other jrpg it has a compelling, immersive flavor that left me wanting for even more “pointless” interactions, simply because they are what normal people usually do, and Totori’s cast are far more normal in their own world than most jrpg characters.

            Again, it feels like you expected things to escalate quickly and were disappointed about the game’s prevalent focus on slice of life dialogues. Nothing wrong here: I like epic plots, too, but I also like diversity and I knew what I was going to play when I bought the Arland games.

            That said, I suggest you to give Ayesha a try: while slice of life is still going strong, there’s a more robust story and the pacing is geared toward balancing core events and side dialogues in a way that will probably go in your direction. Some side events are actually darker and more relevant in terms of lore and world building that the main quest itself, too, and Escha to Logy seems to build on that by creating a more “normal” jrpg experience, while retaining a traditional Atelier scenario for Escha.

  • DesmaX

    “In a lot of other RPGs, the weapon shop guy would be a menu or a
    picture, but every time a cutscene was triggered upon entering his shop,
    it put a smile on my face.”

    Oh, that’s actually pretty cool. One of my favorite parts of Agarest 2 was the interactions between the shopkeepers. It helps make the world more “believable”

    Wished more RPG’s did that…

    • Ladius

      If you liked Agarest 2′s Frensberge events, you will probably love the Atelier series (especially the Arland games, Annie and Ayesha) since they are built upon that kind of slice of life, pleasant atmosphere that makes you feel like part of a friendly community.

  • cloudcaelum

    I need money, so much cool games out for Vita.

  • http://linkapics.tumblr.com/ Linka

    I got this game after being blindsided by it’s release, and I gotta say, it was worth getting it. The Vita’s a perfect system to play it on, and I managed to get through the new game and New Game+ in a week altogether (with normal ending and Rorona end for NG+). I’m currently taking a break from it, but I hope to achieve something better than that in my second New Game+.

    If one never really got the chance to play Totori on the PS3– or even, like me, was unable to really sit for the period of time needed for console play, but is more accustomed to RPGs on handhelds, then yeah, get it! … and buy it regardless so Tecmo Koei can’t have the excuse that it didn’t sell or something.

  • Andar

    It might be worth noting that Hagel is a bit of a staple character in the Atelier series (kind of like “Barrel!”), but if I remember right, the Arland trilogy probably goes the furthest with developing him as an actual character.

    However, nothing beats the music track to his shop in the first Mana Khemia. Hilarious.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FC3iKZ6gXyc&t=01m09s

    • http://linkapics.tumblr.com/ Linka

      Oh man, I agree, that theme music in Mana Khemia for his shop has got to be one of the best themes in the game, next to Nikki’s crazy theme.

      • Andar

        I actually like most of the music in the game, but my favorite would probably be either of Isolde’s themes.

        The music in Totori isn’t bad, but while I don’t mind a peaceful game every now and then, I thought some of the music itself could have used just a bit more excitement.

  • Kevadu

    Meruru is my favorite game in the series, but Totori has the best characters. I wish I actually had the time to revist this game…

    • Deekei

      Oh man, Meruru has some of the most hilarious dialogues out of the three Arland trilogy. Especially the one with Sterk and his pigeons.

    • Rogerrmark

      Yeah,agree.Kinda miss Ceci and Cordelia in Atelier Meruru,lol D:

  • Sai

    Atelier Ayesha Plus when?

    • Ladius

      Even if I completed Ayesha just two weeks ago I could see myself replaying it soon if it got an updated port, it was just that good. Escha to Logy seems even better, I’m really happy about the direction the Dusk series has taken (not that I didn’t love the Arland trilogy, albeit for different reasons).

  • IvanAzure

    Yeah, one of the major things I really enjoyed when I played Atelier Iris, Iris 2, Mana Khemia and Annie (the only ones I got to play so far) was the interactions with the NPCs.

    Totori is actually the recent Atelier game I want to play the most alongside Ayesha (and soon Eschatology), so I’m glad to hear someone else found the charm I look for in the series. :)

  • Cazar

    I want this but… I’m still crossing my fingers for a physical release. Is there really no hope at this point?

    Also, does this game have cross save? If so is the cross save region locked?

    • Ladius

      It was confirmed since day one that there will be no physical release. I don’t think it has cross save, but don’t quote me on that since I have yet to play this port.

      • Gekokujou

        Damn, in that case that’s a dealbreaker for me. Guess I’ll get the Japanese version instead.

        • Ladius

          If you understand Japanese go for it, but if you don’t (or if you only have a limited understanding of that language) know that Atelier’s alchemy system could be impossible to grasp if you don’t understand what you’re doing, and that in turn would ruin the game for you.

          Totori Plus’ western release has its Japanese dub, too, if you were wondering about that.

          • Gekokujou

            You’ve made some very strong points here that to my chagrin may make me have to reconsider my previous statement of it being a dealbreaker.

            I won’t say that my Japanese is at the native level, but it has been sufficient in playing Japanese games thus far. Keeping the Japanese dub intact may also be a dealmaker as well.

      • Cazar

        Who confirmed that exactly? I was under the impression that their hadn’t been any PR from Tecmo Koei America on the game at all. I thought that’s why it was still up in the air; because Tecmo Koei had yet to publicly acknowledge the game’s release.

        • MrSirFeatherFang

          Well, I’m pretty sure that TK Europe confirmed that this wasn’t getting a physical release in the west (in general) on the Atelier Facebook page. I’ll go check again to be sure.
          edit: well it doesn’t say anything about the west, but since anything related to TK is the EU branch, I suppose what they say is definite.
          Atelier Totori Plus (for the PS Vita) is now available on PS Store now via digital download only.

        • Ladius

          That isn’t the case, Tecmo Koei Europe basically does marketing for both US and Europe at this point (since they are the only active TK branch, at least in terms of communicating with fans), and they acknowledged the game the day after its release, both on their Twitter and Atelier Facebook page. It was them that said there wouldn’t be a physical release in the west.

          • Cazar

            Well that’s a bummer. Still wondering about that cross save though, because I’ve yet to play Totori and was considering buying both a PS3 disc copy of the game and this digital release so that I have at least one physical copy of the game.

            Either that or buy two physical copies, one for PS3 (English version) and one for Vita (Japanese version) and use the English version for the bits I don’t understand and just cross save between them… seems unlikely that that’d be possible though.

          • ShadowDivz

            Since the alchemy system in Gust games are very rich and deep. Unless you happen to be a master at kanji i think you will find playing in japanes very difficult.
            And given TK’s way of handling Totori, i think it’s a safe bet to say no physical release.

  • Hinataharem

    Thanks for this review. I might actually look into this someday

  • TheExile285

    Good game, just wish I didn’t suck at it lol.

    I want Meruru Plus localized! Do it Temco!

  • Demeanor

    Totori is great, but to anyone enjoying the game I really recommend getting Meruru next, it’s an improvement of the experience on EVERY single level. Must-buy if you liked Totori. Too bad having finished the ps3 version of Totori kind of discourages me in getting the Vita version.

    • ShadowDivz

      I want to get Meruru, im just waiting to see if Tecmo brings it to PSVita or not. Knowing them it’l probably be released on the playstation store without anyone knowing the day i buy the damn thing. >_>

  • Solomon_Kano

    Hm. I’ll have to pick this up at some point.

  • CrystalPulse

    Where is my Ciel no Surge localization damn it!

  • Rogerrmark

    This game/series is so good.Character development comparable to Tales of.
    There are so many dialogues for all characters,and most characters are rich,despite some unecessary ”fanservice” moments.Alchemy is just addicting.
    Just miss the Arland games,really liked playing them. :)

    Waiting for Escha & Logy now.Ayesha was good as well,despite the pallet swap of enemies…way better than Atelier Rorona,for sure.

  • Hikaru Lighthalzen

    but too bad , no physical release , no love for asia vita users..

  • vivaluis59

    I agree with most of this post. However I don’t think it is relaxing toward the end. I find myself not wanting to waste days and avoid getting the bad end. But then again I’m new to the series, maybe I’m just bad at managing days.

  • ZekeFreek

    I still think these are some of the most boring games ever made. Nothing ever happens. I know it’s supposed to be “slice of life” or whatever but that just doesn’t translate to a game very well.

    I mean yeah, Persona did it but in those games other shit is actually happening.

    • AkuLord3

      Expect things do happen…sorry its not like the usually Persona games where are very different than this. If you want traditional Rpgs then yes this series isn’t for you

      • ZekeFreek

        I’ve given each of the last 4 games a whole 10 in-game months to have something happen and nothing ever did. Yeah, probably not for me then.

      • Peeka Chu

        Ha! Its funny that you should say that Aku. I actually find the Persona series an unbelievable slog on account of all the sim-based sections. It literally takes me years to get through a single title. They’re not bad games, but the pacing simply isn’t a good fit for my palette. These days I don’t have much gaming time so I prefer to jump right into the action. The Atelier games can actually have quite a bit of combat and exploration to them, once you get past the intro sequences.

  • TheBlackgirl123

    The game is pretty sort of relaxing. the characters have their own personality like Mimi is a Tsundere that likes Totori, Cordelia is sort of like one, but only like rorona, gets really pissed if you call her short (like Edward *cough* elric) Gino, is like a hotshot, sterk is really scary and stern, likes rorona. I passed through a scene where he was talking to his pigeon saying rorona’s name. He likes her so much. Ceci is really corageous and loves her sooo much

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