Hot on the heels of Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout, we now have a new adventure from Gust for Ryza and her friends set a few year after the events of the original. This time we have several new mysteries to get to the bottom of, but does the game do enough to keep us intrigued? Let’s find out.
Ryza, the only of her friends to stay on Kruken island, receives a sealed letter from her friend telling her about ruins that may be related to alchemy, with a mysterious request involving a glowing stone from an old acquaintance. This leads her to decide on leaving the island and heading to the royal capital, Ashra-am Baird, to meet up with her friends. This will inevitably lead to the beginning of another adventure, this time involving the mysteries of the ruins surrounding the royal capital and a meeting with a strange creature that will change her life.
Following on a few years from the previous game, our friends are now a little older and more mature – yet Ryza in particular still yearns for adventures. To be honest you don’t necessarily have to play the first game, Ryza does offer a brief overview herself in the introduction, but you’ll miss out on all the character development leading up to this if you do. The adventure is probably more enjoyable than the previous one with how quickly it gets going, with some new friends into the mix, so returning fans will find plenty to enjoy with Ryza & Co again.
As expected of a sequel following on relatively quickly from the previous release, there aren’t any huge improvements to the presentation – at least on PlayStation 4. There is a PS5 update available but we are testing on PS4 at the moment. The game does have its moments visually, the billowing fog filled ruins and clean look of the bustling towns are the heights, with plenty of well designed environments in between. Weather has seen a nice improvement, rain particular will now soak clothing and leaves floors outside a little reflective that adds depth to the scene.
The audio side of things is just as good as the previous game, stellar voice acting and upbeat soundtrack a highlight as always for the series. It seems to be the same crew as before even with the time lapse, so fans should feel right at home. As with the previous game, performance overall is pretty rock solid on the PS4 Pro. The game does seem to at least have a resolution bump over the base PS4, so you can appreciate the detailed characters & environment variety with a little extra clarity.
If you have played the previous game then you will find that most the systems from that in place here, such as the tool variety for collecting materials, for example, and the general flow of the game. Combat is quite similar too, offering that real time – turn based mix of the original with some minor tweaks to AP etc. that changes things up a little for those that participated on the previous adventure. Talking of adventures, this game does seem to focus a little more on the exploration as Ryza can now interact with the environment more such as swimming, which leaves you gathering & battling a little more than you would have before. This eventually leads to puzzle and clue solving using the Compass of Recollection, a nice investigative touch for the series that further entices you to explore in this game.
Alchemy still plays a major part of course, and its setup is quite similar to before. How you learn new recipes is where another change for the games comes. Gone is the need to find recipes and level up in the hope you may randomly learn something new, and in comes the alchemy tree. Acting as a skill tree of sorts, you now learn recipes in an order you prefer and along a path of your choosing using skill points. The skill points are earned through various tasks, with the main alchemy – each time you complete a recipe you are rewarded a small pool of SP depending on its quality. As noted before Ryza does play similar to the original Ryza otherwise, but that’s not really a bad thing as the previous game played well and the changes here do generally improve that gameplay further.
Ryza 2 sees everyone’s favourite adventurous protagonist heading out on a new journey to a new land filled with exploration and alchemy. The game is similar to it’s predecessor in truth but there are some changes & improvements to the formula, such as the interesting investigative angle of the ruins, that returning adventurers will appreciate the most. An improvement over the previous Ryza that is certainly worth a look for long time Atelier fans, or those looking for a meaty adventure to get stuck in to.
Lets you head out on an adventure with friends, explore ruins to your heart’s content, solve mysteries with relics, and use alchemy to create useless explosive Uni in a big pot. What more do you need?