In Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy, Ryza often remarks on the sheer scale of the world. This is a big part of developer Gust’s effort: expanding both the world and your options within it. Larger scope and added options define a game that’s the first true Atelier sequel in over a decade, choosing to build on the first game’s foundation rather than shift protagonists and start over like the franchise’s modern trilogies.
Atelier Ryza 2 doesn’t try to catch new players up, really, embracing the concept of the true numbered sequel. The result is a game that gets you into the action quickly. A direct follow-up means less need for tutorialization! There’s still a bit of one in here, likely for players who’ve forgotten some things between releases. Still, this solves a lot of a problem that plagued the first Ryza and has long been a franchise staple: a slow, plodding start.
It isn’t long before you meet up with returning party member Tao and fresh face Patty in the capital city of Elster. Tao uncovers evidence that there may be truth to some unexamined legends, and Ryza sets off to explore the world and uncover more about these mysteries. Patty, the child of a rich family Tao has been tutoring at the academy, offers Ryza a place to live and quickly becomes part of the crew.
You’ll eventually run into more old friends from three in-game years ago, as well as meet more new pals. All of them pack some new moves in combat. Unsurprisingly, most people you’ll find are in dire need of Ryza’s alchemy skills! And then there’s your new little creature companion, Fi! Fi has a bunch of story implications we can’t talk about. Fi can’t talk about them either and just says “fi” a bunch, so yep, this is one of those.
We don’t want to move on without talking about Ryza’s housing situation. This “unrentable, old” quarters she’s offered is… just ludicrously large, full-featured and architecturally interesting for a city apartment. The game does try to address it sometimes! But there’s no world in which this would be a less-sought-after living space. Even in a fantasy land, this is what we can’t believe.
Traversal and collecting ingredients, while still fundamentally clunky and JRPG-like, increasingly captures the exploratory fun of games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Genshin Impact. You can jump! You can swim! Collecting a bunch of ingredients, as you’ll often need to do in Atelier Ryza 2, is fundamentally tedious. Given that, it’s smart that the team at Gust is constantly working to make this more engaging and painless. The world you explore is lush and visually pleasing, and you’ll be able to capture it even better with a whole host of new photo mode options. It’ll be more fun than ever to help Ryza gleefully strip the world of all its natural resources!
Most of the game is focused around exploring ruins. In these ruins, you’ll find memory fragments, collect needed ingredients and generally try to solve the mysteries surrounding their existence. And while there’s fighting in lots of areas, they’re much more of a thing in what are essentially the game’s dungeons. The combat systems are designed to interlink, often in very explicit ways! Your party members will make in-battle requests, like dealing magical damage, and doing so is rewarded with a combo attack. Using basic attacks isn’t just what to do when you’re conserving energy, either. They’ll accumulate the action points and other things needed to use your items and special abilities. It’s all about making you bounce around these systems.
That ethos extends beyond battles, too. The way that tasks and quests and ruin-based goals stack on each other, you’ll only be spending a few minutes on one before moving to another. Once again, this effort by Gust leads to decreased tedium. That said, if you’re the sort of player who likes to down a whole side activity at once? Know that the bouncing around isn’t particularly optional. In order to commit to this idea, it often directs you explicitly.
Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy will release on December 3, 2020 in Japan and January 26, 2021 in the West. It’ll be out on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and PC.