Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness And The Secret Hideout is the first time I have played the Atelier series of games. Atlelier Ryza literally dropped in our laps a few weeks ago, oblivious to what it actually is except for the fact that it is a JRPG!
The review is coming in a bit late given the issues I have had with the game on PC. I have decided to get this out the way at the start as it has marred the experience for me right from the off. I was having a few issues; initially when I was starting the game I was getting just a black screen with nothing else. To get back to my desktop Alt & Tab wasn’t working so a hard reset was needed. I tried everything right down to DEP settings (Data Execution Prevention – to stop malicious code basically and sometimes needed for older games due to modified movie and start files).
Nothing, no matter what I tried, worked right down to clean install of the latest AMD drivers (Using latest version of Display Driver Uninstaller doing a safe mode reboot etc) and even this wasn’t doing anything to rectify the problem. Then, there was an update for the game beginning of November and the game starts loading up as it should, but performance is lacking unless you have a controller at least plugged in….weird one!! Then, a new AMD driver came out, so I installed that also.
All seems to be working just fine, thankfully, so off I go to try and start the adventure… I find the cove and the boat and the cutscene plays leaving the island… then crash to the desktop with no errors (cove had been furthest I had got to at the time). Great(!) I’m thinking as it is still not working as it should. I know it isn’t my system as it scores 98% stability test on 3DMark Time Spy and, literally, this is the only game that is crashing.
There has since been another released, and finally, there are no more random crashes and the game is working as it should. I have even managed to stream to the Steam App on my TV – and using a controller – so I can sit back and take it all in, 3 weeks later!!
– Gameplay Walkthrough Part 1 – Prologue (Full Game) 4K 60FPS – Shirrako
So, this is a new game in a series that I hadn’t ever heard of, and upon doing a bit of research, I saw there are a good 20-or-so games prior to this in the series! The series and Atelier Ryza are based upon smaller stories rather than large scale go save the world and don’t forget to do as many side quests as possible on the way. You play Ryza who is a young girl who wants to get off the island she lives on which is out in the middle of nowhere. She has aspirations of having an adventure on the mainland and dragging her friends along with you on the journey.
All these smaller stories make up for the larger game heading out somewhere, and then back home towards the end of the day once you have gone through certain scripted moments. You soon run into a character who then introduces you to alchemy, which is a series staple from what I understand. Aside from these quests, you can venture round the island talking to people about generally mundane stuff and their lives. It makes a nice change of pace from the “Tales Of” series and other JRPGs.
Whilst playing, you run through areas which are semi-open with encounters with enemies thrown in for good measure, and a few story elements to keep things moving along at a decent pace. The combat is a turn-based affair which sees you hitting characters in turn until either you or the enemy falls. The way they have done it here, is that your character portrait drops down a vertical line and when it reaches the bottom, it is that characters turn to attack.
Here you can either do a standard attack, move round to a different position on the battlefield, or use a stronger special attack provided you have amassed enough points during the battle to use it. Personally, I am not a fan of turn-based combat, given that I feel a game can easily throw something at you, which will down a character without you being able to do anything about it (I’m looking at you X-Com 2). Imagine being in a martial arts tournament and telling your opponent that you are going to take turns hitting each other…….go figure!
Visuals and sound are typical of what you would expect from a JRPG: bright and colourful-looking with nicely animated characters, but both male and female can be a bit overly sexualised. Males look like pretty boys with pointed chins, wafer thin and toned physique, while the females breasts bounce whilst running around and they wear shorter clothing. The audio is Japanese only with English subtitles so you get decent quality voice acting that doesn’t end up hammed up in a translation.
– Nintendo Switch Gameplay Walkthrough – HeroVoltsy
Atelier Ryza was a game that I was quite looking forward to, but the whole experience for me was marred from the moment I installed it. It set me up to fail, given the problems. Then, once I got in-game, the combat being turn-based pushed me away as I was feeling like I wasn’t really getting into it, bracing for another crash and losing progress.
Now, something I do have to mention is the save system on this game. With this being shorter adventures, they decided that you can only save at your house in the diary in your room (no autosaves when transitioning between areas etc, here). So you could be out adventuring, and end up failing combat with the entire team taken out and lose a fair bit of game progress. For those like me that just can’t get away with turn based systems and expect to take a few knocks, then this game will probably infuriate you if you start failing against enemy mobs.
I do occasionally gel with turn-based combat, as I enjoyed my time with Shadow Run and Divinity: Original Sin 2, but with those titles I didn’t have a single issue, so I wasn’t on tenterhooks waiting for a crash. This allowed me to really immerse myself in the game and get to grips with its systems.
Fans of the previous titles will probably love this entry in the series. For a newcomer, though, it may wash right over your head. Personally, I prefer the more modern “Tales Of” series of games (Gamecube onwards), but that is just my personal preference.
There are still PC players on the Steam discussions for this game with issues similar to what I was having, so it may be worth holding off until the issues have been completely fixed if you are looking into this title.
- Developer: Koei Tecmo Games
- Publisher: Koei Tecmo Games
- Players: Single player only
Retro at heart and lover of all things ’80s, especially the computers, the music and the awesome movies and TV shows! Crazy huge retro gaming collection spanning the ’80s and ’90s with hundreds of tapes, discs and carts for various machines on top of a 600+ strong Steam library that is ever-growing. No I am not a serial hoarder, just a dedicated retro gamer!