With Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book launched in English back in 2016, it kicked off not only a new trilogy of games in the long-running series, but my own adventure into the alchemic-RPG franchise after years of reading about and hearing about the games. I’ve gone on to play every Atelier release since then, with many of these releases being deluxe ports of older 3D Atelier games full of bonus content and quality-of-life changes.
Over the last few years the Nintendo Switch and PS4 have become a second home for deluxe trilogy releases of Atelier games that were previously stuck on PS3 and Vita. With the focus on the series’ more distant past, I never expected the Mysterious trilogy of Atelier games that were already on PS4 to get that treatment any time soon. I was so happy to be proven wrong by the release of the Atelier Mysterious Trilogy Deluxe Pack across Switch, PS4 and PC.
Like almost every other 3D Atelier entry, these three titles are standalone stories – you can jump into any of them without any knowledge of the prior games and still have a full experience. Instead the trilogy is loosely connected by the theme of “mysteries”. Sophie encounters a mysterious book, Firis goes on a mysterious journey, and Lyde & Suelle dive into mysterious painting worlds. If you choose to play each game in order, though, you’ll also be treated to seeing older and wiser protagonists from prior entry in the trilogy return. Sophie starts out as a young inexperienced alchemist, but seeing her come into her own in the second game and then become a full-fledged master of alchemy by the third is a huge delight.
Honestly, I could gush about Atelier Sophie for hours. It’s easily my favorite game in the Mysterious trilogy, and one of my two favorite Atelier games period. Part of that is probably because it was my first experience with Atelier – the relaxed and tranquil vibes of these games are so unique, and it’s hard to forget the first game that introduces you to this world. Even if it wasn’t my first experience with the series, though, Atelier Sophie excels by doing a lot with a little. Much like Studio Ghibli’s wondrous movie Kiki’s Delivery Service, there isn’t a grand conspiracy or world-ending plot here. Sophie wants to learn alchemy, and when she discovers a mysterious talking book left behind by her grandmother, she goes on adventures with the book and her friends to gain more experience and come into her own as an alchemist.
For the DX release of Atelier Sophie, you get to experience even more of her journey thanks to a brand new chapter exploring Sophie’s adventures in between this game and Atelier Firis. Sophie is also my favourite Atelier protagonist – in a series that often gets bogged down in over-designed outfits and anime-as-hell character names, following the adventures a chill regular girl named Sophie sets the game apart from others in the series. Getting to see more of her growth and character development is awesome.
Atelier Firis was a pretty experimental entry in the series that honestly has a lot of ideas I’d love to see them explore again. The big gimmick with this title is found in the massive, open environments that you can explore. Rather than fast traveling to a dozen different small environments to gather items and fight foes, you can wander around absolutely massive maps that take so long to explore you’ll fully cycle through multiple in-game days as you do so. The huge landscapes really add to the sense of scale and adventure that this game is all about – and for a pseudo open-world game originally on PlayStation 4, it runs flawlessly on Nintendo Switch and looks just as crisp as the original.
The new story content included in Atelier Firis is pretty scant compared to what was added to the other games in this trilogy, which is a bit of a downer. Firis is an abrasive and immature character at first, but she really comes into her own and ends up being really charming and relatable by the end of the game. You get to fight some new monsters and a beefed-up secret boss in the DX release of this game, but if you’re not very passionate about the battle system in this game, you might not be too jazzed about that. There are also new vehicles and exploration items you can use to navigate the various locales, though, and they’re super fun to mess with.
Atelier Lyde & Suelle is a particularly interesting piece of this trilogy release because it actually already came out on Nintendo Switch. The original game, though, was one of the earliest titles on the Nintendo hybrid handheld, and back then it didn’t seem like people quite knew how to handle Nintendo Switch ports. The Switch version of Atelier Lyde & Suelle ended up being a choppy repurposing of the muddy PlayStation Vita version, with flat visuals and an incredibly inconsistent framerate. Thankfully, that is no longer the case. Atelier Lyde & Suelle DX is a gorgeous, proper port of the game with improved textures and water, proper character shadows, and a solid framerate. A few environment shadows and character textures are just a bit flatter than they are on the PC and PlayStation 4 versions of the game, but it’s still a massive improvement over the original release.
Atelier Lyde & Suelle might have the most exciting extra content for hardcore Atelier fans. A new painting world has been added to the game that lets you dive into the world of Nelke & the Legendary Alchemists – an Atelier anniversary spinoff game that launched in 2019. The game was a clunky mess, but it had some fun ideas and a really charming protagonist. Getting to explore that world and see Nelke in a proper, third-person 3D Atelier game for the first time is super exciting.
Each of these DX versions of the games also packs in what seems like all of the DLC from the original releases, alongside DLC that was otherwise unavailable in America, like bonus music packs only released in Japanese game magazines. There’s also a surprisingly in-depth Photo Mode added to each game that lets you pose characters, alter the time-of-day, and adjust depth-of-field in Atelier Firis and Atelier Lyde & Suelle (but not in Atelier Sophie, unfortunately). Each of these games is packed with fun new content and a juicy amount of previously released content, and they all look & feel right at home on Nintendo Switch.