Atelier Totori & Ateler Meruru are the follow on titles from Atelier Rorona and form the rest of the “Arland Trilogy”, these titles originally released on the PlayStation 3 quite closely together and as such don’t really differ too greatly from each other. Did they manage to recapture Rorona’s lightning in the bottle or did the formula just become bland? Read on to find out.
If by any chance you missed our review of the previous title Rorona, you can catch that here, I only bring that up as this game is part of a closely made trilogy and as such share similar qualities with that of Rorona.
Review code supplied by Koei Tecmo EU with thanks.
Aterlier Totori DX.
Now you’re up to date it’s time to talk Totori and what’s going on in the land of Arland this time around. Totori is the latest apprentice Alchemist but with a little twist this time, unlike Rorona who is now her teacher with hilarious results, Torori wants to be an adventurer, she would also like to find her missing mother so the two goals go hand in hand for this budding alchemist/adventurist.
As the focus is more on Adventure than Alchemy this time, the tasks also reflect that, rather than having to meet demands of the Kingdom by creating various items to keep your Atelier open, instead you have to meet goals in the same way but themed more around adventure and to keep your Adventure License.
For the most part the visuals and audio are of the same quality of Atelier Rorona DX, this is due to the fact Rorona was remastered using the same engine and tweaks that the team had learnt once they released Totori and Meruru which means the gap between games has been tightened much closer than they were before.
The main hook for why you should give Totori a whirl is the story and the setting, it’s fantastic to be back in the world of Arland and be around the brilliantly written cast, especially now that Rorona is part of the cast rather than the focal point. It’s a good thing the supporting cast are as strong as they are, Totori is the weakest of the Arland protagonists which is the main knock against the title and why most tend to talk about Rorona over Totori.
The gameplay in Totori also matches the theme and focuses alot more on exploration and adventure, the maps are more varied and there alot more of them compared to the somewhat barren and corridor like ones featured in Rorona. It still features tasks that need to be completed by certain deadlines and I found some of them a little stricter and to the day than in Rorona but still for the most part manageable.
Atelier Totori: DX is a strange beast in that I personally enjoyed some aspects of the game more than Rorona but feel that it has less charm and a dulled personality compared to that of Rorona. The switch of focus is nice and certainly more of what I enjoy but I think like most trilogies, the 2nd doesn’t quite hit the mark set at either end. Regardless of this Totori is still a fantastic title and well worth adding to your JRPG library.
So to finish off the Arland trilogy we have Atelier Meruru, rather than being an Alchemist or Adventurer you are thrust into the shoes of Royalty and given the task of improving your kingdom Atelier style! No pressure eh!.
Atelier Meruru is the most “advanced” title of the series harboring several gameplay and theme changes which really help it stand toe to toe with the Rorona who started it all. The combat for starters has been given a little extra weight and makes it feel like they put more effort in than rather just settling for a basic turn based combat system.
Another aspect where Meruru seems tweaked from the previous two is that the time limits for tasks seem more relaxed, though they weren’t hugely strict in the previous two, Meruru feels a lot more leisurely than them and it really helps you soak the game in at your own pace.
As with the previous two the tasks are tied to the main theme of the game, this time around it’s your Kingdom, it’s Meruru’s task to help improve her Kingdom giving the game a slight twist on the previous formula as you can see your Kingdom expand as you go through the story.
Some of the cast of the previous games turn up, older and wiser and just as well written as before and Meruru herself is quite the captivating protagonist, it’s safe to say that if you enjoyed the writing of the previous games you’ll be right at home here.
All things considered, Meruru is actually the best in the Arland series, it has the most tweaks, it looks fantastic and the lighter time management and city building aspect make the game easily the best one of the trilogy to play. Would I recommend jumping in to this one first?, No, play the games in order to get the most of out of the writing and lore, if you only have the time or budget for one then Meruru is the most enjoyable but a lot of its writing has plenty of nods to the previous titles which will fly right by you.
It’s an utter joy to play these captivating titles on the go with the Nintendo Switch, I never got the chance to play them on PlayStation Vita and making up for it now I don’t think the games have ever looked or felt better. These are a trio of must play titles for anyone with an interest in JRPG games and fancies something different with these slice of life titles, there are still the usual tropes to go through like secret bosses and what not so there is something for everyone. If you haven’t tried them yet, maybe it’s time for you to take a trip to Arland?.