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Atelier Meruru: Apprentice of Arland (PS3) Review

 
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At A Glance...
 

Genre:
 
Year:
 
Publisher:
 
Developer:
 
Final Score
8.0
8/ 10


User Rating
1 total rating

 

We liked?


Great story
Lots of grinding

Not so much?


Time Limit detracts a bit for casual players


Final Fiendish Findings?

Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland is an engaging game that gives players a great story, rpg style grinding, and time management all rolled into a cute little package. I really enjoyed this game, and the act of searching for elusive rare items with which to create ever more powerful alchemy projects is quite addicting. While I would have liked the option to complete that game without the time limit to open up a more relaxing pace for exploring, having to finish things quickly adds a lot of challenge to the game, and definitely makes you think about your strategy before planning your course of action.

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Posted September 21, 2012 by

 
Full Fiendish Findings...
 
 

This princess has better things to do than sit around the castle waiting to be saved.

Atelier Meruru is the latest installment in the long-running Atelier series.  Picking up where the second Apprentice of Arland, Atelier Totori, leaves off with Totori now master over a new apprentice. Meruru isn’t your ordinary apprentice. As royal princess of the kingdom of Arls, she has a lot of obstacles to overcome if she wants to become an alchemist, the least of which is convincing her father, the king.

Under her teacher’s guidance, Meruru learns the basics of alchemy. You must travel to various locales to find plants native to each one to use in your alchemy products, as well as earning new recipes along the way. In addition to her alchemy studies, Meruru is tasked with developing her kingdom, which includes planning new buildings and facilities as well as completing requesting tasks for people in her kingdom in order to draw new citizens. As Meruru, you must raise the population in your kingdom a certain amount within a three year time period, or give up your alchemy studies altogether.

The three year time limit is actually a daunting task in a game like Atelier Meruru. It follows the same basics principles as most rpg’s. You have a variety of different characters who can join your party at various times, and you’ll need to do a bit of grinding if you want to get their levels up in order to be competitive against the increasingly difficult monsters that you will face. You also will need to travel to different areas of the world in order to collect the ingredients needed for your alchemy projects. You also will need to consult with your advisor at times before you can advance, and if you want to save your game, you need to go back to your workshop and consult your journal.

The twist here is that everything you do takes up days off your time. When you need to travel to get certain ingredients or defeat a particular monster for a quest, it takes both time to get there and time to travel back. Need to heal after a big fight, or replenish your magic after an afternoon of alchemy? That will cost you a few days. Need to create healing potions in your lab, synthesize some powerful weapons, create building materials for people in far-off villages? All of that will cost you in precious time. Of course, you can load up on healing potions and weapons and try to make long trips, but your basket has limited capacity, which means you will either have to go home when it’s full or risk losing out on collecting valuable alchemy materials. All of this makes Atelier Meruru as much about time management as anything else, and really provides an element of challenge in trying to accomplish your goals while conserving as much time as possible.

The storyline in Atelier Meruru is a good one, and it brings in a lot of characters from previous games for added interest. Meruru is believable as a spirited princess who wants to be defined as more than just her birthright, and the urgency in completing her goals in time to give her a chance at another life is ever-present. Still, the game is at most times light and fun, and the challenge in finding higher quality ingredients to create ever more powerful items often kept me playing far later than I should have been.

Atelier Meruru will look familiar to players who have enjoyed the other games in the series, as it follows the same basic style, but newcomers to the series will have no trouble picking it up. It is a jrpg, and so has a very familiar anime style to it. The characters are young and cutesy with the elaborate and somewhat risque outfits typical to the style, and there is the odd suggestive comment thrown in here and there. For the most part though, the content is fun and engaging, and there really isn’t anything I’d object to my kids playing.

Final Thoughts:
Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland is an engaging game that gives players a great story, rpg style grinding, and time management all rolled into a cute little package. I really enjoyed this game, and the act of searching for elusive rare items with which to create ever more powerful alchemy projects is quite addicting. While I would have liked the option to complete that game without the time limit to open up a more relaxing pace for exploring, having to finish things quickly adds a lot of challenge to the game, and definitely makes you think about your strategy before planning your course of action.


Amy

 
U.S. Senior Editor & Deputy EIC, @averyzoe on Twitter, mother of 5, gamer, reader, wife to @macanthony, and all-around bad-ass (no, not really)