Here’s a confession: I have a soft spot for the Dusk trilogy of Atelier games. They were my entry point to the series, but unlike many others, I never played the PS3 versions, instead opting for the Plus versions on PlayStation Vita. Atelier Ayesha Plus, Atelier Escha & Logy Plus, and Atelier Shallie Plus were good releases at their time, but I’m thankful that with the Atelier Dusk Trilogy, there’s a new definitive way to play the series.
The three games take place in a world known as the Land of Dusk, a bleak world that is on its last legs. It’s a much more serious setting compared to the preceding Arland trilogy or proceeding Mysterious trilogy, and finding out what’s happening to the world and how to solve it is a key theme in the games. Coupled with beautiful art and character designs by Hidari, whose faded, parchment-like aesthetic fits perfectly with a fading world, the games show off a dying world that’s a sight to behold in its own right.
Each of the games take place at different years, at a different part of the Land of Dusk. However, in true Atelier fashion, the games start small and personal, before working its way up to higher stakes. For example, Atelier Ayesha follows Ayesha’s journey to save her sister Nio, and her first steps into the world of alchemy. There’s a hard time limit of three years to rescue Nio, and I love how personal the stakes feel in this game. Meanwhile, Atelier Escha & Logy begins with the duo trying to save a struggling R&D division, and one of Atelier Shallie‘s protagonists, Shallotte, starts out stuck in a rut with only vaguely grand dreams and no purpose in life. Thanks to these largely personal stories that just happen to build up to more discoveries about the Land of Dusk, it’s easy to get invested in these lovable characters every step of the way.
Admittedly, what I praised above has existed since the PS3 originals. Even most of the DX versions’ “additions” can be attributed to the Vita Plus versions. That said, what makes Atelier Dusk Trilogy the definitive way to play isn’t really anything particularly new, but just the opportunity to play all the content added in the Plus versions with home console-level graphics, and a much more consistent framerate. The Plus games had hideously awful framerate that came from trying to compress PS3 games (with additional content!) onto the Vita, but with the Switch having much better tech, there’s finally a great way to play the games portably without sacrificing everything but gameplay. Furthermore, for those exclusively playing at home, the PS4 and PC versions look and perform better than the Switch version as well.
In terms of new additions, the DX versions in Atelier Dusk Trilogy adds a run toggle that speeds up exploration and makes it easier to get the upper hand in battle encounters, as well as a fast-forward function that speeds up animations in battle. This made playing through the games once more much less of a chore, and I recommend using these if you’re a repeat player like me.
So, when you add together a series of games which already had an engaging story, world, and characters, coupled with the extra content from the Plus games, but without the jank introduced thanks to being ported to inferior hardware, you end up with ports that are the best way to play the games on current consoles. JRPG fans, give these games a shot – there’s no better time to get yourself acquainted with these underappreciated gems.
Atelier Dusk Trilogy is available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and PC