When it comes to Atelier series, certain installments have been among the most successful. While Atelier Ryza was a critical success, so is Atelier Sophie at over 500,000 copies worldwide sold. And now we’ll see her again. As part of its TGS 2021 announcements, Koei Tecmo and Gust announced Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream. Siliconera caught up with Gust Head and Producer Junzo Hosoi to find out what people can expect from the sequel.
Jenni Lada, Siliconera: What prompted a return to Sophie and Plachta’s story after so many years? How did work on Atelier Sophie 2 get started?
Junzo Hosoi, Gust: The Atelier series will be celebrating its 25th anniversary next year. In honor of this landmark year, we were thinking about what kind of title we could have to act as an “opening title” to kick-off the celebration.
The Atelier series is one that is a result of moving forward with our fans, so we re-examined our past titles and how players have responded to them on social media, the results of online popularity polls, etc. In addition, the decision of having a returning protagonist was based on the very positive reception after Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout, so we started considering creating a story with Sophie and Plachta.
Also in Atelier Sophie, Sophie was a novice alchemist, then in Atelier Firis was a teacher of alchemy, then in Atelier Lydie & Suelle she grew into an alchemist that has reached an extraordinary level. Obviously during that growth, Sophie and Plachta would have had many experiences. So we thought that being able to show one of those experience periods as a sequel and a new title would be really fun and filled with surprises, so that was when it took shape and we decided to move forward with it.
How did Atelier Ryza and its sequel shape this new installment in Sophie’s story?
Hosoi: The Secret series of Atelier Ryza and Atelier Ryza 2 is completely different to the story of Atelier Sophie 2. From a technical and system standpoint, there is an influence, and I think that it takes the form of a good influence that matches this game. However, it’s not just simply incorporating it but we’ve fine-tuned it in a way that is uniquely for this game, and able to create a world that is unique to this game.
NOCO and Yuugen both return as the artists for Sophie and Plachta. How did their approach change for the heroines after so many years?
Hosoi: The illustrators that I know are people who are continuously changing and evolving. But, I think that it was a lot of pressure and a challenge to take characters they designed over 5 years ago and add something “new”, but without losing their “key characteristics”. Despite that, both illustrators have a very strong fondness for this game, so they were able to interpret what we wanted specifically for this game into their designs.
In terms of the official timeline, where does Atelier Sophie 2 fall?
Hosoi: It’s a story that takes place between the timeline of Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book and Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey.
When designing Erde Wiege, what did you do to make it unique and stand out?
Hosoi: We created it with the idea of making a map that gets you excited, and it ended up taking much longer than we had expected… As a result, we were able to create fields of various designs that are both enjoyable visually and for exploration.
Ramizel Erlenmeyer will be an entirely new heroine. What did you have in mind when creating her?
Hosoi: She is the mediator for Erde Wiege, so is a character who is reliable and has a strong core. But, even though her role is as the mediator, she also has a very dynamic personality. We made sure that she is seen not only as a “reliable person” by the residents, but someone who is “reliable and loved” by them.
How will this installment’s battles change? Also, how much of a focus on fighting will there be when compared to the alchemy portion?
Hosoi: What I can reveal at this point is that the biggest change is the seamless shift from the field to battles. In terms of the focus between the synthesis and battle parts, I think it will change depending on the player’s preference. In order to synthesize, materials are needed; in order to obtain materials, they need to be gathered through exploration; during exploration, encounters with monsters lead to battles… So the foundation of the game cycle hasn’t changed, and players can progress through the game by balancing how they handle synthesis, gathering, and battles.
One of the new battle elements is Dual Trigger, which involves people working together to fight. Is this the only relationship element in Atelier Sophie 2? Or will there be other friendship and love mechanics?
Hosoi: At this point, all I can say is that no, it is not the only relationship element.
How has alchemy changed in Atelier Sophie 2, and what new elements do you think are most interesting mechanically?
Hosoi: Synthesis is based on the same puzzle-like system used in the Mysterious series, where materials are placed on a panel and synthesized. And this time, a new ‘Restricted Panel’ has been added. In the first Atelier Sophie game, selecting the alchemy cauldron to use changed the results of synthesis and the Restricted Panel is a system similar to that. The Restricted Panel is a panel that is more challenging, such as having several squares blocked off where materials can’t be placed, but can synthesize items with higher effects that can’t be created through regular synthesis.
Atelier Sophie 2 will come to the Nintendo Switch, PS4, and PC on February 25, 2022.