Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg Review - Old Dog, New Tricks
I love the Atelier game series. I’ve played them all, but in the back of my mind I’ve always known my collection was incomplete. Where I started the series at Atelier Iris, the first English title released; this is the sixth game in the series. The prior five had never come to the west. In what I hope is the start of a trend of them remaking and re-releasing these previously unseen gems, Atelier Marie got remade as Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg.
As per most of the series, Marie’s life is a bit of a mess. She’s failed her studies and her professor has given her a last ditch effort to save herself; run an atelier and create an incredible item. Simple enough. Plot (up until later games) was always more of a side thing, and you can see the roots of that here.
When remaking a game of this age, I worry about bringing over aged game mechanics in an attempt to remain faithful to the original design. Models have been updated from pixelated static art to 3D models with light animation, the environments have been updated, as has the colour palette. The music has been remade too. Everything has a fresh lick of paint but keeps with that original feel, which is good to see. There’s also the choice between a normal, time-limited mode and an ‘Unlimited mode’ for players who are used to the newest games where time limits are removed. This removal of limit does remove some events from the game though, to entice players to try it as originally intended.
Gameplay boils down to a loop; take a mission, set out on the world map, gather items and fight to level up, return to town and chat to people, synthesise and complete your mission. This seems simple but random events based on specific criteria means you won’t see everything in one playthrough. At the end of my first play, there was a bunch of people and special events I hadn’t even met or seen, but since it was only around ten hours for my first completion, I was itching to jump back into things and see more.
A lot of what makes later games both longer and a lot more complicated, has been removed. This isn’t an insane thing though, it’s the first game after all. Combat is a simple turn-based affair with nothing in terms of co-operative attacks or crazy crafted items and weapons. That’s not to say it’s easy. Some enemies still require a lot of levelling to take out, or at least some great strategy. It’s been a long time in the games since I had to return to the atelier to heal up and recuperate, but that’s how it is here. I’ve been a bit spoiled by the Ryza series, I’ll admit.
Even synthesis doesn’t have the wild systems that I have used spreadsheets for, and a lot of futzing about with items as it is in future games. Instead, you only need to make sure you have the MP, your alchemist level, and how much time you have left. Time is an important system, but I didn’t find it as intimidating this time around. You need to remember it’s there, but because of the length of the game you’re never turned off from fiddling around with different paths, as you can try something different on another play.
It’s also a bit nostalgic, if not odd, that money is such a critical factor. You’ll earn money by doing the time-sensitive missions in the tavern and you need it to pay for most party members, upgrades to your equipment and recipe books. You’ll always have a bunch of options, and I consistently found myself tossing up the importance of what I needed to focus on, versus what I’d lose if I didn’t.
Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg reinvents a very old, classic game. It’s a simple game, for sure. I don’t think this will necessarily scratch the itch of the later parts of the series where mechanics run abundant and crafting just the right item to break the game in a wild, exciting way is a goal you’re aiming toward. Instead, you’ll get a cut down version. This isn’t awful though; there’s a lot to love here. It’s got a great appeal and at the same time, doesn’t require a huge time investment. In a very busy year of games (and backlog), that’s a huge boon in my books. I pray that it does well enough that Gust will consider doing the next 4 games that never came across the ocean.
Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg was reviewed on a PS5 with a code kindly provided by the publisher