tot1Atelier Totori Plus follows the story of Totori Helmod; who lives together with her father Guid and her older sister Ceci in the small fishing village of Alanya. Her Mother Gisela; a rather well known adventurer – is currently missing in action, and Totori has taken it upon herself to become an adventurer and find her mother. Alongside this, Totori has also dreamt of becoming an alchemist; a dream spawned through her mentor Rorolina Frixell (the heroine of the prior entry in this series). Though she dreams of being an alchemist, she isn’t very good at it and her attempts often go awry.

Her family life as a whole had been rather peaceful – but as of late, it has turned for the worse. Totori’s older sister doesn’t approve of her life choices (namely becoming an adventurer) and is very fearful that Totori will meet the same fate as their mother. Her father on the other hand is a rather timid presence who can be overlooked very easily, and only cares that his daughters get along. A rather positive driving force in her life is Gino, her childhood friend. He drags her out of the town every day to train and improve their skills.

tot2One day, while in search of ingredients for an alchemist cook, Gino tells Totori that they would only need a certain amount of money to go to the capital and register as adventurers. She is instantly drawn to the idea but there are two problems; neither of them have the money to do it, nor have they’ve got anybody to ask for help. Totori decides she has to gain the money herself with her alchemist skills, and such is the basis of the game.

In order to gain the money you have to do quests. Quests can be received at the local tavern and can be placed in one of three categories; gathering, hunting and synthesizing. In the gathering quests your objective is fairly easy – collect item “xyz” in “x” number and “z” quality. Hunting missions have you attacking large mobs of enemies a certain amount of times and synthesizing quests are a mix of gathering/hunting with an end-game of creating items out of the collected raw materials.

tot6At the end of the battle, the party receives cole, and ingredients depending on the type of monsters defeated. Ingredients can also be gathered by having Totori stand over a gathering patch and grab the patch via a pop-up command. A window will pop up showing what ingredients have been found along with their particular rating, grade, and traits – the player can decline from gathering any ingredients from a gathering patch and no time is used. In your need to collect items and ingredients you will discover another game play element; time management – we’ll come back to that later. The only other way to get the things you need is to buy them with cole.

Hunting is based on fighting and strategy. The fighting system is a classical round-based battle system; you choose between attacks, items, defense, skills and flee in each conflict. Totori isn’t really usable as a melee character and is set up more as supportive attacker – she can use her craft and items to heal, buff, debuff and deal damage. Her major attacks come at a price, as they require items which take lots of time or valuable items to make. This lack of melee and easy attacks doesn’t matter much though, as the different characters you meet can aid you during the game as members of your party (you can take up to two with you in the dungeon to even up the odds in battle). These secondary battle characters can also take hits from Totori via quick-time action events, jumping in to take damage if you so choose.

tot3So now that you have collected all things you need plus a solid base for future project you head back to town, and your alchemy workshop. There you will asked if you want to move your collected items to the storage, you can agree or deny -then you will go to your synthesis pot to create the needed items with the gathered ingredients. An important thing to note is that you have to know a recipe to actually create any specific item. Even if the recipe is available it’s not always successful, as all items have certain percentage of failure – the only way to improve your odds of success is to gain experience and level up.

In creating and using an item, they all items have two common aspects; a quality and a trait. The quality should be self explanatory, and the traits are special effects (for example lp +10, meaning if the ingredient is used in any armor type item it will boost your life points by 10). You may also notice that each trait has a number after its name which indicates how much it will cost to use the trait in the final product. This ‘cost’ level determines how many traits you can use, a cost level of two will allow you to only use two points maximum in any combination. You couldn’t use a two-point trait, and one-point trait, as that would exceed your cost level.

tot4After you’ve crafted the needed item you have to go back to a tavern to receive your reward. This process of getting and completing tasks for the tavern owner you stick to for around a month of in-game time, in order to trigger a story event. The deadline to get the money for your adventure up and you don’t have the needed money… no worries, though – as Totori’s disapproving sister ends up paying for it anyway. Off to Arland’s capital and the guild headquarters you go!

So now you travel to Arland , heading almost straight to the adventure guild. There you meet your self-proclaimed future rival Mimi Houllier von Schwarzlang, and a guild member who was a childhood friend of Rorolina’s will give you your license, and some help. Upon finding out you have nowhere to sleep since you forgot to book a hotel, she gives you a key to your mentor Rorolina’s workshop as a place to spend the night. The intro sequence plays and so you are finally in the meat of the game.

During your time in Arland you will get to know two important things, a friend-list in which all helper characters are listed that you can take with you to fight, and the adventure pass itself. You have to kill monster and do missions for the guild to improve your level, or it will be game over in year three. Licenses renew every three years and no improvement means no to any license renewal. All missions have a deadline which can be found under the current date, and sadly pretty much anything you do will eat up the time towards your limit. Traveling from a town to a dungeon, you will lose time; traveling from one dungeon to another, you will lose time – even fighting takes time based on how enemy difficulty and your strength. Luckily you have a small time bar in the dungeon which shows you single-day countdowns. This means it’s always better to try to collect as many items in as little time as possible, to maximize your time use and make sure you can reach your goals. In doing so you will notice two things; first that item drops don’t reset until you enter a different area, and secondly that the dungeons are crawling with monsters, which you either have to avoid to not waste time (and lose the experience points) or attack, and waste more time.

tot5The missions of the guild are in 4 main categories; Battle, Exploration, Quest, and Library. Battle is you versus a monster, pretty self explanatory. In exploration you have to find all gathering points or all landmarks in a certain region. Quests have you solving certain tasks; for example hunting – they vary, and lastly there’s Library in which you synthesize items to up your alchemy rank. Doing any of these missions gain you points, increasing your adventure rank and unlocking new missions.

Controls are a bit odd, utilizing the d-pad for menu navigation and the analog stick for walking (with “x” added for speed on the world map). The game makes no discernable use of the touchscreen or the rear touch-pad, and uses buttons only – most likely due to its nature as a port. The game uses only “x”, square and circle for main game-play; though the left and right triggers can be used as start and select.

Graphically the game looks very good, even if some animation seems awkward. Another nice aspect is lack of seeable edges on the surroundings – but sadly the details are a bit lacking. The Vita version trumps the Playstation 3 version in one area; color – but this is most likely thanks to the Vita’s vibrant OLED display. Frame rate was an issue at times however, as the game stuttered when loading in and out of fight sequences among other intensive areas.

In the sound department Atelier is good, but not epic. The tones are quite catchy but there’s sadly nothing that might get stuck in your head other then possibly the opening theme. A plus point for me (and many fans of original versions) is that there’s an option to use the Japanese voices instead of the English ones. It’s quite nice since there are many voiced lines next to the cut-scenes.

Over all, Atelier Totori Plus is well done enhanced port of the Playstation 3 original that even seems to look better in spots, but suffers from some minor polishing flaws. Those new to the series could be a little bit overwhelmed by the crafting system, which seems complex at first glance but offers extensive options if mastered.

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Yuuki is 21 and from Germany. Gaming since 1998 and starting with a SNES he progressed through all Nintendo systems as well as an Xbox 360 and Sony consoles, including his newest addition to his console history, the Vita. Favourite genres include jRPGs and Strategy games.
  • I quite like the sound of this. Aside from Disgaea (which I really, really want) there aren’t really a great library of rpgs I can think of yet, but it seems to be changing!

  • Buckybuckster

    Totori really works hard for her money! Very good review Yuuki! Very detailed and comprehensive. Makes me want the game even more than I do now which is always the hallmark of a well written review. A most excellent job…congrats!

    Needless to say, I want this game! I think it’s criminal it had such a low key stealthy release. Thankfuly, we have reviews such as this one to help give it more visability.

    • Yuuki

      be happy you didnt see my draft.

      • Even so you’re still learning English and to write is harder to speak. It was a thoroughly enjoyable read and I echo what buckybuckster said 🙂

        • Yuuki

          learning since nearly 9 years ^^

          • I know how difficult it is. English is a hard language too, lots of rules that don’t fit in with the majority of languages like adjectives going before nouns. My husband and I are just starting to learn Maltese as we’re planning on moving there. It’s difficult!