Genre: RPG | Players: 1 | Developer: Gust
I have an odd fascination with alchemy. I think it appeals to the same part of me that loves baking, and that wishes I was good at chemistry. I've enjoyed every game in Gust's Atelier series that I've had the chance to play, but none of them appeal to me the way the Alchemist of Arland trilogy does. The first game in the series, Atelier Rorona, stars Rorolina Frixell, a girl who largely succeeds at alchemy because she's not bright enough to overthink it. In spite of Rorona's ditziness, she's a fun, likable character who plays off the rest of the game's cast nicely.
Most of Rorona's gameplay revolves around completing various alchemy assignments within a specified period of time. It can be challenging to manage your time at first, but once you're really familiar with the game's crafting system and the location of ingredients, you'll have plenty of time to explore the game's world. More than anything else, playing Rorona is relaxing. There are challenging boss fights to be found, but most of the time I've spend in Rorona's world has been calming. The game's graphics are stylized, and while the anime look won't appeal to every gamer, I find them to be quite lovely.
There's the occasional bit of Japan weirdness in character interactions- for some reason, all the adult women of Arland seem to have a thing for Rorona- but in general, the townspeople are sweet, funny, and have their own engaging stories. There is an enormous amount of content for every character. I've beaten the game more than a dozen times and still haven't seen every scene or earned every ending. Atelier Rorona is very much a niche game, but for those who it appeals to, it's a game you can play endlessly.
4.5 pies made with alchemy out of 5