Atelier Shallie Returns with a Plus Entry on the Vita, but Is It Worth Returning To?
Koei Tecmo never fails to honor Atelier fans by bringing almost every entry of the series to the west (cough still waiting for Shin Atelier Rorona: Hajimari no Monogatari The Alchemist of Arland on 3DS cough). So it was no surprise when last October western fans learned that the publisher will be localizing the Gust developed Atelier Shallie Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea for the PlayStation Vita. This version would be a port of the PlayStation 3 release from 2015. However, this Vita version includes extra story content, characters, and dungeons.
Let’s start this off by saying, this is not a “re-review,” we will only be looking at the extra content offered and whether it’s worth it for players who have played the game to return and play through it again. Furthermore, it could serve as an opportunity for new Vita owners to learn about a series that might have missed their radar. If you’d like to read our review of Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea, we reviewed it in 2015 for the PlayStation 3 and thought it was great.
I’m sure a lot of gamers are wondering if the game holds up on the handheld compared to its console counterpart. For me, this was pretty tough to gauge. That’s because the game was surprisingly quick while loading between sections in the town. However, there were some rare occurrences where the game would stop and load during a battle. I’m not sure what triggered these load screens, but it happened every once in awhile.
One of the biggest pay offs of having this game on a handheld is being able to take the amazing soundtrack with you wherever you go. The game’s audio is as wonderful as always and the many character voice-overs sound great on the handheld. Although using headphones is ideal for the best experience, the game does well playing through the Vita’s speakers. Furthermore, players will be able to switch between English and Japanese audio.
As for the extra content, fans of the Atelier series will enjoy the many reunion scenes with characters from past entries. These roles aren’t small either, Gust made their inclusion meaningful and exciting. However, if you are playing this series for the first time these character interactions will probably not hold the same nostalgic emotion that it would for the hardcore fans.
Looking at the extra area I never considered Atelier Shallie to be lacking in the dungeons department, but I’m not going to turn down extra places to collect items and battle new enemies. These new levels give the game a true “definitive edition” feel because they prove the extra work that the development team put into the game to release this new version to the best of their abilities. In addition there are some extremely intimidating boss battles awaiting those who seek a challenge.
The way I see it, the team could have released the game with new characters and just used their narrative storylines to lead the player to old dungeons. However, that’s not what they did at all. Instead they created extra content for fans who have already played through the game and enjoyed it. They provided a reason to return to this world and ultimately, that’s what I was looking for.
I’m sure you’re curious to know what I found to be most beneficial about the Plus version. Well, the best part is that the developer has made most of the DLC costumes available on the cartridge (or digital copy). Yes, this mean you’ll be able to put every character in their bathing suit before you start a new game. Leave it to Gust to know how to please this simple gamer.
Fans of the Atelier series should feel right at home with this version of the game. It’s upsetting the game didn’t receive the Plus version on PlayStation 3 for the fans who don’t own a Vita (if you don’t own a Vita yet, what are you waiting for!?). Aside from the weirdly placed load times that happen during battles, I believe this game holds up as a great port of the PlayStation 3 version. Additionally, it adds enough extra content to attract players who have already played through the game as well as provides many hours of gameplay while they wait for Atelier Firis to release this March.