With a new game in the Atelier series just around the corner – Atelier Sophie 2 – it has us thinking about all the Atelier games that have been and gone.
Gust’s and Koei Techmo’s series has been running since the 1990s, with 22 mainline games now available. You can more than double that when you add side games and re-releases into the mix. In other words, then, the Atelier series is a force to be reckoned with.
The earliest games never got a release in the west, with the first five Atelier games being Japan only. Atelier Iris kickstarted the series’ success in the west when it released on PS2 back in 2004, and it’s seemingly only grown in popularity since then.
We’ve scoured through Metacritic’s aggregated review scores to figure out the five highest-rated Atelier games ever made, which we present to you below. Some of these don’t come as a surprise to us (Atelier Ryza was wonderful), but others may not be what you’re expecting. Without further ado, here are the five best Atelier games of all time, according to Metacritic.
Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout
- Release date: October 2019
- PS4, Switch and PC
- Metascore: Average 81.3 [84 (Switch), 75 (PS4), 76 (PC)]
We’re not surprised that Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout has come out top on our list of the best Atelier games of all time. Somehow, the Ryza series has captured the hearts of practically everyone who has played it; us included. Perhaps it’s because of Atelier Ryza’s focus on adolescent friends, developing themselves along with their abilities, throughout the course of the game. Maybe it’s because of the game’s new synthesis system, making alchemy more engaging. Or maybe it’s because it looks so gorgeous. (All three? And more?)
Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout tells the story of a young Ryza and her friends as they escape their boring village to find a secret hideout. Heading to a forbidden island, an adventure of discovery, exploration and alchemy lays out in front of them. It’s a true summer adventure game, with all the trappings of a usual Atelier game, wrapped up in a beautiful package.
Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy
- Release date: January 2021
- PS4, PS5, Switch and PC
- Metascore: Average 80.75 [84 (PC), 81 (PS4), 80 (Switch), 78 (PS5)]
It’s very rare for Gust to revisit a character; normally each Atelier trilogy focuses on a theme but has a different protagonist. But Ryza was so popular that just two years after her first game, she had her own sequel. Picking up three years after Atelier Ryza 1 left off, Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy reveals a wiser, more skilled Ryza as she reunites with her friends for the first time. Another adventure awaits, but this time Ryza is to venture to her nation’s royal capital: Asha-am Baird.
This is the first (and so far only) Atelier game to have released on PS5. And so if you’re playing on there (or on a powerful PC) you’ll really get to appreciate just how impressive the game’s visuals are. A huge improvement on anything that came before it, you really feel like you’re with Ryza in her magical world. Again, it’s no surprise that this landed a place on the list of best Atelier games of all time.
Atelier Rorona Plus: The Alchemist of Arland
- Release date: June 2014
- PS3, PS Vita (PS4, Switch and PC as part of the Atelier Arland Deluxe Pack)
- Metascore: Average 79.5 [80 (PS4), 79 (PS Vita)]
Third on our list of best Atelier games of all time is Atelier Rorona Plus: The Alchemist of Arland. Now, this is a rather curious one. Atelier Rorona originally released in 2010, to a fairly mediocre Metacritic score of 65. But with 2014’s release of Atelier Rorona Plus, essentially a full remake of the game, Gust improved upon it in just about every way. And so it’s gone from being one of the worst Atelier games to one of the best.
This Plus release improved the visuals, overhauled the graphics, reworked the synthesis system, added new story content, and more. And thanks to the 2019 rerelease of the Atelier Arland Deluxe Pack you don’t need to dig out an old console to play it: it’s available on PC, PS4 or Nintendo Switch.
Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland
- Release date: May 2019
- PS4, Switch, PC
- Metascore: Average 78.3 [79 (PC), 78 (PS4), 78 (Switch)]
The fourth game in the Arland series of Atelier games, Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland is also one of the best. It tells the story of Lulua, who just so happens to be the daughter of Rorona – the star of the game above. Growing up in the shadow of a legendary alchemist has meant that Lulua wants to carve out a path of her own, and so she sets out on an adventure to become even more talented than than her mother.
Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland follows Lulua as she travels through the beautiful world of Arland, making friends and tracking down the mystery of an ancient manuscript. It’s another heart-warming, enjoyable adventure (aren’t they all?), and so it’s no wonder it’s one of the five best Atelier games of all time.
Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea
- Release date: March 2015
- PS3, PS Vita (PC, PS4 and Switch as part of the Atelier Dusk Trilogy)
- Metascore: Average 77 [78 (PS3), 76 (PS Vita)]
The last game in our list of the five best Atelier games of all time is Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea. This is the third and final game in the Atelier Dusk trilogy, a series that focuses on the story of “a world on the verge of ruin”. Water is drying up, causing plants to wither and creatures to die of thirst. Things aren’t looking good in the world of Dusk, and so it falls to Shallie – and the alchemists that came before her – to fix what is wrong in the world.
If you’ve played the other two games in the Dusk trilogy, you’ll get the most out of Atelier Shallie. And being the most recent of the three, it’s understandably the best; improvements in technology allowed for bigger areas to wander through, and the battle sequences found here are much better than those that came before it. Ultimately, though, it’s the story and the engaging alchemy that will keep you hooked.