Atelier Escha & Logy: Keep An Eye On The Clock

By Laura . March 30, 2014 . 9:29am

Atelier Escha & Logy is one of the most stylistically beautiful games I’ve played in a long time. The cel-shading really reminds me of manga art, and the opening movies for each of the protagonists’ segments are almost like colorful silent videos that tell the background to either Escha or Logy’s history. Though I knew nothing about the characters going in, I wanted to learn more about them right off the bat.

 

At the very start of a new game, you have to choose which of the two protagonists you will play as—the cool-headed, more analytical Logy, who just came from Central City and is looking forward to a new job on the outskirts; or the bouncier, more idealistic Escha who just picked up her first job. As you can already see, the two complement each other well in terms of personality and background, as well as their alchemic skills, but otherwise, there is fairly little difference in either’s routes, from what I can see. True, they both have different endings and character routes, but the majority of the game is almost exactly the same, except for whose thoughts you get to hear during conversations as they talk to each other.

 

(Also, the true ending is only unlocked if you finish both character’s main endings.)

 

In addition to Escha and Logy, you also meet a host of characters new and old. Unfortunately, I never played Atelier Ayesha, so I couldn’t experience the added excitement of seeing returning characters. In fact, this flood of characters meant that I cared less about many of them and just saw their events for completion’s sake. And while the cast certainly is colorful, they verge towards the line of not being very well-rounded. At the very least, though, they each have their own mini-character routes that you can view over the course of the game. Every few days, a new event is unlocked, and you travel around the town to see what’s happening. (Luckily, these events don’t eat up any time.)

 

With so many characters to interact with and so many routes to keep up with, it’s hard to remember you also have your job to keep up with. Like many other Atelier games, Atelier Escha & Logy runs on a clock, with many actions taking up time until your assignment is due. Unlike what I experienced in previous Atelier games, though, Escha & Logy is split into smaller 3-month segments and has a clear goal in every chunk. At the end of those three months, your team’s main assignment is due. This is a story-centric event, so completing this is key to moving forward.

 

After that, there are many other assignments that are given to you that you can complete, and finishing these nets you bonus rewards. These are usually very simple, since they are mostly there to make sure you fully explore the world and functionality of the game so you don’t coop up in the atelier all day, synthesizing away. For example, finishing a certain number of battles is one task. Using a type of item in battle for the first time is another, and using a new character in battle once is yet another. I liked this sort of hands-on tutorial, which gives you incentive to try new things as they are unlocked through the game.

 

Of course, as you work towards these 25 tasks every 3 months, there is the time limit hanging over your head. This time will almost always be spent synthesizing, traveling, or exploring. Later, you get the ability to decrease the amount of time it takes to do every action, but by then, your tasks will also become more difficult, so there is always a challenge to juggling time. Simply moving around the map takes up entire days, but the smaller actions you perform as you explore that only take up fractions of a day, such as gathering materials and fighting battles, quickly add up as well. Doing enough of these actions will activate a Field Event, which can allow you to quickly gather all the materials up in one area for higher quality or quantity. You can also find rare items or encounter very strong enemies. However, you can only choose one event to happen every time a Field Event activates.

 

Battles this time around are also more about management rather than overpowering your enemies. There are only three characters on your screen, but you have six characters in your party at a time. While synthesizing the best weapons and items can deal a lot of damage, you can also activate Support Attacks with any of the other 5 characters after a person’s turn. Alternatively, you can also activate Support Guard, which will have another character take damage for your current member. Not only does this inflict less damage than usual, it can switch out inactive party members on the fly.

 

Each of these Support actions take up a certain amount of the Support Gauge, but because there is no limit to the amount of attacks you can chain together, you can end up doing twice as much damage as you originally would. In addition, some characters seem to have higher attack when supporting as opposed to straight out attacking, and because your party doesn’t actually have a Guard command, Support Guard is the only way for you to weather through some of the tougher attacks.

 

Finally, each action a character does fills up a Finishing Gauge, be it on their turn or as a Support action. When this fills up in a battle, you can use the Finishing Attack, which does insane amounts of damage. So far, I’ve only managed to do this once, but it ended up taking out almost 3/4 of a major boss’s HP in an instant (and thank goodness, too, because I was on the losing end of that battle).

 

The exceptions to this are, strangely, Logy and Escha. I don’t know if mine just haven’t learned theirs yet, but at this moment, they instead have two actions unique to them—items. Only the two protagonists can use items, which range from massive bombs, healing items and food, and support items that can enhance the items you find as you gather on the field. However, you can’t use every item you synthesize in the Atelier. Instead, before you leave your base in Corseit, you have to equip them on Logy and Escha. Both of them have a limited number of slots that increases as you level up, and each item can take up anywhere from 1-5 slots. (Sorry, Escha, but I’m not sure that Pancake Stack is worth those 5 slots…)

 

These items are of course obtained in taking part in the most iconic part of any Atelier game, Synthesis. Escha and Logy both specialize in different aspects of alchemy—Logy in the more high-tech tweaking he learned in Central City and Escha in the old-fashioned cauldron work from every other Atelier game—but ultimately, you can create an astonishing variety of items. Well, so long as you have the recipe. Recipes are either bought, rewarded to you for completing a number of assignments, or obtained from dismantling relics you find as you explore.

 

I couldn’t even begin to cover all the aspects of the complicated process that is alchemy, but I can say that the tutorial the game provides you with is very helpful and one of the best I’ve seen in any game. Essentially, you pick the items you need according to the recipe—the higher the quality the better—and add them together, and voila! New item.

 

My favorite aspect of Synthesizing is balancing the attributes, effects, and properties, though. Effects are item-specific traits that explain what the item you’re making does, and the higher quality your item is, the more it’ll have. However, just having a “high quality” item isn’t good enough—it has to be through obtaining enough of a certain attribute: fire, water, wind, or earth. This means that your ingredients play an enormous role in determining the effect of your item, and items you create later in the game will almost certainly be more powerful than the ones you created in the beginning. I like this feel of progress, like all that exploring actually paid off.

 

In addition, each item rewards you with a certain number of attribute points (which is different from the attribute value explained above), which you can then spend to manipulate the final attribute value to get those effects you want. These also stack, so the order you add your ingredients and manipulate the points also affect the final product. For example, I can use three Fire attribute points to double the attribute one item gives me. In addition, I can use two Wind attribute points to double the number of times I use the item before actually using it. This will result in me essentially getting 4x the value from one item.

 

Properties are extra characteristics every item has that affect its usage and what is inheritable if it is used in synthesis. Some properties increase the amount of damage done, while others increase HP or MP (for when you use the item to synthesize armor). Some decrease the number of slots the item will take up in Logy or Escha’s bag, and others will increase effect area for, say, a bomb.

 

Of course, this means that it is painstakingly difficult to recreate an item you created, especially if you used extremely rare materials to craft it. In this situation, the game also provides you with a system to duplicate your items. All you have to do is give it to a Homunculus and they’ll create copies …for a small fee in candies. Also, they aren’t particularly efficient in their cloning skills, so giving them extra sweets gives them some extra incentive by way of bribery.

 

These snacks are obtained by completing Requests, which are like sidequests. These seem to always involve slaying a number of some common monster you’ve faced before or handing in some items that someone wants. Because of the routine nature of these tasks, you can even complete them as you go about the main story, so the number of candies you have builds up quickly. Unfortunately, the homunculus are like bottomless pits (well, actually, this is only because I make liberal use of their item-cloning ability) and so this is another balancing act I have to perform on top of everything else.

 

I find it fascinating that, even though time management is something disliked but unavoidable in the real world, Atelier Escha & Logy manages to make it so manically enjoyable as (in-game) months are eaten up days at a time. I also liked how the whole “management” aspect is also stretched to remembering to check character events, performing alchemy, and even in battles. It was really easy for me to lose hours to the game going, “one more task… just one more task.”

 

Food for Thought:

 

1. My favorite aspect of using items in battle is that they’re not really consumed. Every item has a counter and can only be used that many times on your outing, but the moment you return to Corseit, that counter refills and you still have your Ice Bomb even though you used it all up.

 

2. As I said, I do love the aesthetics of the game, but it does have drawbacks. I thought that the characters’ actions as they talked or moved were stiffer than usual, and in open areas in town, there was noticeable lag as I ran around. In addition, the immobile camera angle sometimes meant I accidentally stepped on an enemy outside my view, and though this isn’t a big problem, I rue when the time comes for me to venture into more dangerous places where regular battles aren’t so easy.

 

3. As I advance in the game, I love finding ways to exploit the system and find shortcuts. One is the homunculus, which can cut down on many of my gathering needs. Another is taking advantage of Field Events. For example, battles take up relatively little time, and by the time I’ve fought enough to fill up a day, I’ve usually activated a Field Event. Then, I choose to collect all the materials on the field instantly, which saves me on another 2-3 days and can get me even more, rarer materials than I usually would.



  • Magicks

    Interesting article. If you have the time, you might want to pick up Ayesha. It was a pretty good game, but Escha&Logy is definitely a huge step in terms of battles.

    What I liked about the game is that like every Atelier game, the characters are likeable. Sure, they might not be well-rounded, but I really enjoy seeing some of the quirks that each character has.

    In terms of the battle system, I enjoy it because 1. Items are refreshed upon re-entering Colseit, so I don’t feel that I have to be really stingy about my items, and 2. Switching between characters of the front and rear makes the fights so satisfying; especially since I know that characters in the back line I can use up all their MP, and they’ll regenerate a little bit while the front line is handling the monsters. A huge enjoyment for me has been fighting the Field Event monsters. (choosing between Dangerous and Hopeless) since not only does it provide a challenge, but a good way of getting rare items that you wouldn’t normally get at your current position in the game.

    The homunculi aren’t that bad of a time juggle; more of assign, and forget. Plus, what I really enjoy is that since they copy any item, even though the production days are long, you can mass-produce rare materials for end-game (or mid-game) by assigning them duplicate requests.

    All in all, Escha&Logy has been a really addicting game; what made it so thoroughly entertaining in my opinion has been how difficult some of the bosses are, and not stressing over how much time you need to put aside to produce items that you’re constantly consuming. I really look forward to the nest Atelier game. (Since releasing in June, most likely going to be expecting either a November release or a Q1 2015 release.)

  • Kornelious

    I really do like this game, usually I don’t like timed limits but it’s done in a more manageable way in this game than say “Lightning Returns” But it still is a good game :)

  • Alex Sargeant

    It’s a really fun game to feel like you’re exploiting. When you have an attack item that lowers every stat/resistance on and enemy as well as doing insane damage you pretty much feel like the shit.

  • s07195

    So the dual protagonist thing is kinda like the one in Tales of Xillia, huh?

    • Alestaos

      I got the same vibe. Even down to M/F not just F/F etc, loved Xillias way of handling it Milla is always awesome. But i wish that Tales of or this Logy and Escha really made it different when picking your chosen progtanist not just different skits/combos etc

  • Masa

    Time management i’m not a fan of, hate when i can’t get to simply enjoy and take my time playing a game without having to worry that a timer will end the game for me.

    Lot’s have said though its not so bad in this game, so i would like to pick the game up and try but i’m guessing i would have to play all the other games in the series first? Hope not, xD.

    • DyLaN

      The Dusk series is unrelated to the Arland trilogy so you can feel free to start at either Ayesha or E&L.

      • Masa

        Will try this out then. :)

      • Josh Hanes

        Good to know, that’s what I thought from the review but it’s good to see it confirmed.

    • MrTyrant

      Time management is actually pretty cool in this one and I don’t know why people tend to dislike it. It’s part of the difficulty of the game since this game is veery easygoing in terms of plot or anything else they need something to keep players doing the main tasks and not fooling around too much.

      • Yan Zhao

        My main issue with time management is that it just kills any motivation to 100% the game and craft the best possible items in alchemy since those eat days. In contrast to a game like Mana Khemia 2 where I get to enjoy every part of the game and craft the best armor/accessories in 1 playthrough (2 for the extra chapter)..

        • disgaea36

          yeah it’s why I stopped playing the time thing was killing my mojo and I felt like I was being rushed all the time. Ain’t nobody got time for that lol but to those who like that aspect have at it.

      • darke

        It’s because time management is one of the more frustrating points of modern life. Once you’ve got enough money to not worry about a roof over your head, or wondering when you’ll get your next meal; you find your next biggest worry is juggling meetings and deadlines at work, optimising travel times to/from work, home and social events, and generally spending a stupid amount of effort managing your time consciously or unconsciously.

        Going to play a game as escapism and not only being reminded about the the biggest problem in the real world you deal with, but having to do the same thing in the fantasy world you’re playing? That’s not fun. I’ve bought the first Dusk title, and have it sitting downloaded on my PS3, but I haven’t even had the urge to start it yet since I’m still recovering from the irritation of dealing with the previous series on the Vita.

        Maybe they’ll have released the ‘Plus’ version on the Vita before I get decide I want to annoy myself again with the PS3 version.

        • MrTyrant

          Nowadays it’s not so common this system except perhaps Persona games but I do not translate my personal experiences to this game and I never feel that I was being rushed to a point of despair. I find it amuzing and interesting to have an schedule in the game too. The pressure is part of the fun as how some rpg put you a really overpower boss to force you to grind a lot and it’s refreshing to see a game to also force you to think your movement carefully since this isn’t an open world sandbox with dozen of things you don’t really miss that much. Less in the dusk series.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/kaishou Kaishou

      The dusk series time management is really lenient compare to the Arland series. Most of the assignment can be done within 5-10 days if not at least 2 days. Which mean you have up to 110 days to do whatever you want in each assignment. Mainly you would be gathering materials, leveling up alchemy, finish the optional assignment (highly recommended) and doing character events. For character event all you need to do is use the character you want to see the event for in the front line and just gather materials or fight monster. You can also get the event for character in the backline but it will take longer for their event to appear. You’ll know if you get it when you see the character face in a certain area in fast travel.

      Also I may as well give you a tip, if you’re playing as Escha then I suggest you only to do the females character event as there’s an ending if you finish their events. Same thing could be said for Logy. Another tip, have multiple save files.

  • http://resettears.wordpress.com/ Reset Tears

    Can I just say… Logy is *really* hot??? XD Escha is cute too; the art style in general is just really nice.
    I haven’t played an Atelier game yet, though I do hope to try the series some time. I just have a Vita though… These games seem to always get ported there though eventually, right? I know one of them was just announced recently, at least.

    • MrRobbyM

      “Can I just say… Logy is *really* hot???”

      *cough cough I agree cough* I’ve stayed away from the Atelier Alchemist games mostly because of the whole cutesy girly thing but now that there’s a male protag, maybe I’ll enjoy it? I’ve been killing for some turn based JRPG action so I might be picking up a Vita soon and hopefully the Vita port will get localized.

      • Milewide

        I tried Atelier Totori for the vita and I found it had some glaring performance issues. So keep that in mind, it might be the same for the other games as well.

        But if you’re gonna get a Vita anyway, why not try Hatsune Miku’s Project Diva F? It’s the true sequel to Dark Souls!

        • MrRobbyM

          I played whatever version of Project Diva demo on Ps3 and I just..couldn’t keep up with it. How.

          • Milewide

            Hehe! I guess everyone has a different experience of it. I also played the demo, with a sense of mild suspicion. What could this be? Worth a try…

            Totally worth a try. I ended up really enjoying it. But that’s just me. :)

        • MrTyrant

          What!? Miku and Dark Soul are related? Hatsune Miku Project Dark Diva Souls?

          I can imagine Solaire praising the sun and dacing now.

          • Milewide

            As long as Hidetaka Miyazaki does the choreography I think it will turn out great!

    • God

      I played rorona(?) back in the day, and i can’t really recommend it over other awesome RPGs, while it wasn’t bad, the Prize/Quality ratio was messed up, if you can get it for free, or if you have a jailbroken PS3 and some time to kill it may be a nice option though.

    • XiaomuArisu

      Atelier rule no.1
      All Atelier characters are gorgerous!
      ALL OF THEM!

  • MrTyrant

    Who are the characters DLC in this game?

    • Jesse

      Wilbell, Katla and Micie.

      • MrTyrant

        Booo! I wanted to recruit Winbell in a normal way, a little unfair since Linca is the only returning one with personal events and everything.

        • Bell

          My thoughts exactly! I think Wilbell deserved more than to be a DLC character, but hey. I’ll take any Wilbell screen time I can get! Also, since she’s such a popular character, I’m sure we can expect to see her again in the next Dusk game.

          • MrTyrant

            Linca, Winbell and Keithgrif. I hope to see them in Shari. Asuming that if that game will be the end of the trilogy like Meruru we are probably going to recruit the previous main characters as well.

  • Josh Hanes

    Wow why can’t other review sites break down the game so well? I think I am going to pick it up with Dark Souls 2 on Wednesday because of this.

  • Yan Zhao

    So Items dont get consumed now and instead recharges when you get back to town? Thats interesting. Cause I never used to use items a lot except in boss battles since I was stingy and didnt want to waste more days to recraft items or waste money to rebuy them from the yard sale.

  • AlphaSixNine

    “one more task… just one more task.”

    I know that feeling very well… every time I try to get off the game for minor reasons like sleep, I always find myself trying to finish as much as I can. It’s like I’ll forget it if I close the game and resume tomorrow lol.

  • matt grimes

    At first, I was disappointed to see that Logy and Escha don’t have any finishing attacks…but then I learned why. And it’s not just because they’re the only ones that can use items, but rather it seems to have to do with the cooperative special attacks these items lead to later on. Every single attack-based item has an extremely powerful version of it that’s pretty flashy to watch (though not quite as flashy as the finishers) and that deals huge damage. Some of these items can indeed dish out as much damage as a finisher under the proper circumstances. So in case anyones wondering, it balances out in the end. Because technically, Escha and Logy have access to a multitude of attacks that deal finishing-type damage whereas everyone else just has one.

  • Guest

    Loved this game, but I didn’t know there was any DLC except for the music. Is this coming to the west?

  • Suriel Cruz

    Atelier Escha & Logy is really good, if not the best game in the “Atelier” series. The time aspect of the game is really friendly and not so difficult to manage like past installments. So friendly that by the last year I got 375 days of Free Time and got EVERYTHING DONE, I just needed to visit the Unexplored Ruins and that’s it. Right now I’m in my 2nd playthru with Escha and with the best weapons, armors and accessories equipped, tho I’m just waiting for DLC to make this playthru more fun. ^ ^ I recommend this game!
    I can’t wait for the next one “Atelier Shari: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea”!

    • 3PointDecoupage

      What DLC? Can I get the crossbow guy from Ayesha?

      • Suriel Cruz

        DLC list is…
        - 2 Dungeons(One with the MOST POWERFUL BOSS in all “Atelier” game series. His name is King of Beasts)
        - 3 Characters(Wilbell, Katla and Micie)
        - Music pack
        No crossbow guy(Juris).

  • DFM

    Spoiler alert:
    I’m near the end of this game and I honestly can’t help but wish it would go on. The learning curve is substantial; I’ve stopped playing the Atelier series since Iris and Mana Khemia and it took time to get used to the time-clock aspect. The hardest part is the last year you’ll spend at Colseit (slaying the Dreadnaught and Child of Terror is still impossible for me). Escha and Logy may not have finishers but..they’ve Double Draw (won’t spoil details on this one, it’s way too cool). Two tips for those starting: conserve the food that Solle provides for requests, invest funds for research on reducing travelling and searching time and save the rest for recipe books. Overall, this is a solid game worth putting time into.
    P.S. It’s been a while since we’ve a male protagonist! Yay for choice!

  • Slayven19

    I have it, love it, just waiting on the next game in the series now.

  • Demeanor

    Atelier games are really really special. Started this myself recently and I’m already drawn in. Lol Logy looks like a fashion supermodel XD
    The music is so beautiful OMG THE MUSIC, a decent pair of headphones really shines here, I find myself listening to the town theme for minutes :D

  • Göran Isacson

    Kinda curious how the two characters alchemy differs. If it even DOES differ at all, beyond pure aesthetics (i.e that Escha uses a cauldron and Logy apparently doesn’t).

    Mostly because I’m curious if the writers actually intend to phase out Eschas “cauldron-style” alchemy for what the article describes as Logy’s more “high-tech” version, as that usually is what happens when science advances and people find something more convenien/efficient to use and they want to to write a story about what is lost and what is gained as technology advances… or if they just want to give the two characters different alchemy for different alchemys sake.

  • Notquitesure?

    Is there romance between the two.

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