Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey is a game divided into two parts. There’s the timed period, where Firis has a year to get letters of recommendation and prepare for an exam, and an untimed period where you can explore and practice alchemy to your heart’s content. The checkpoint between these two points is the licensing exam, a test that determines if you’re ready for the next step. It’s quite a well executed thing.
First, being ready for Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey’s licensing exam isn’t that big of a deal. It’s a three-part test that mainly relies on your alchemy level and general knowledge of the series. This isn’t to say having a high combat level is totally unnecessary. It can come in very handy for the potential after-exam battles. But I managed to cruise through with a level 25 alchemy level and level 15 combat level, suggesting it isn’t totally an experience you need to fret over. As long as you’re strong enough to get the three easiest to earn letters of recommendation, you’ll be fine. Though, if you go the extra mile to get all five, you can go into your test knowing you’ll pass. You know, just like an actual exam.
The goal in Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey’s exam is to get at least 50 points. Manage that and you’re set! Firis passes! She’s an alchemist. The hardest part of this challenge is actually the written exam. You’ll be asked 20 random questions that might be difficult to answer even if you’ve been paying close attention when exploring or fusing. For example, one question asked what item would be made when combining a Bush Strawberry, Distilled Water, and Fairy Parasol. Which may be sort of a crazy thing to ask, because who pays that much attention when making things? I don’t normally. (It was Apcol.) While it’s pretty obvious Red Punis don’t lurk around Flussheim, it’s easy to stumble and forget in the heat of the moment. Another question asked me which of the following items couldn’t be found at Past Paradise and I’m still clueless. It’s exactly like those multiple choice answers that may have left you flummoxed in schools. Fortunately, it does only amount to a small fraction of your total, and it is very easy to make things up with the other exams. Though, if you do ace it, you can get 40 points.
Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey’s first Practical Exam is probably the smartest part. This one tasks you with making any high quality item. I put together a Blitz Core: Fire with over 150 level quality and did fine enough. But really, this section feels like it makes the most sense. You’re trying to prove you’re a successful alchemist. Actually tasking you with making a high quality item there, on the spot, is the exact thing you’d expect from such an exam. It’s a good opportunity to make something you’ve made plenty of times before, have all the proper items for, and know you can put together well. I was tempted to go with a Diamond, since it’d be a high level item, but something I’d made more often made sense.
I suppose the only part of the exam that didn’t seem as practical was the battling portion. After all, you shouldn’t assume all alchemists are travelers and warriors. Yet, even this does have some good reasoning behind it. After all, you’re using a weapon you made to attempt to deal as much damage as possible to a Puni. The best idea is to use some sort of bomb, perhaps a Lightning Bomb or something similar, to attempt to eviscerate the thing. You’re showing the quality of your product in action, which is practical in its own way. While the fighting part seems a bit odd, the idea of seeing something you made work is a rather good test. (Of course, it doesn’t really explain the optional battle against Ilmeria and Sophie if you do extraordinarily well on your test, but still.)
With Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey, the licensing exam really feels like this practical demonstration of everything Firis has learned. The challenges make sense, even if the written portion’s questions may come out of left field and the practical parts suddenly ask someone in a more intellectual position to participate in a bit of a battle. It is a test of things you probably actually learned as you played, which makes sense as a way to cap off your timed adventures and move into a more freeing experience.
Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey is available for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and PC.