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Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg Preview: A Delightful Return to the Series’ Roots

Marlone, otherwise known as Marie, isn’t known for her academic achievements. So she’s been given a challenge by her professor, Ingrid – make something of note, and she’ll graduate. There’s a time limit of five years though.

That may sound like a lot, but when you consider that gathering items at a spot takes an entire day, things are put into perspective. To travel, learn more about the world around you, gather materials, and eventually synthesise an item worthy of note, it’s going to take considerable time. And so every action you make in Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg needs to be considered.

A redoing of the very first title in the Atelier series, Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg makes the game available in the west for the first time. It of course features brand new visuals, a reworked soundtrack, tweaked gameplay mechanics, and a whole lot more. It’s the original game updated and enhanced for modern audiences, with a brand new localisation to boot. And whether you’re a series veteran or have never touched one before, it’s certainly worthy of your attention.

Being what it is, Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg isn’t as story-driven as modern Atelier games such as the recent Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key, but there are still narrative strands to follow. You’re given quests in various forms, too.

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Your professor gives you assignments, for example, and your friends sometimes ask things of you. At the local tavern, you can even pick up random jobs, or keep an ear out for rumours that might be beneficial to you. But again, time always needs to be considered. It’s pointless picking up a job if you have no chance of completing it within the allotted time. In fact, it can be harmful to your reputation.

Related: The Five Best Atelier Games of All Time, According to Metacritic

Buying books at the local academy can be helpful in your endeavours, but for that you need cash. And so begins a loop of completing quests, earning money, buying books, and furthering your alchemical career. Either that, or doing it the hard way by trying to find all the information yourself.

In any case, the further you progress in Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg, the more gathering areas you unlock, and the more items you can make. Items will come in useful, too, as you’ll need to engage in combat to complete quests and simply gather materials. They’re not all you can depend on, though; thankfully help is at hand for Marie. A number of friends and mercenaries can be recruited in town, but you’ll need to pay them for their services.

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Each companion offers their own special attacks, and you’ll build relationships with them over time making them stronger and also cheaper to hire. But to get the most out of your battle buddies in Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg, you’ll also want to visit the blacksmith and outfit them with the best equipment possible. You’ll probably settle on a couple of favourite companions over time, and will make use of the formation system to effectively use them in battle.

The battle system itself is simple. Battles are turn based, with characters acting depending on their speed. Perform a standard attack with a character and they’ll be able to act again sooner. Perform a special attack and they’ll have to wait a little longer. Characters can also choose to defend or use an item. Needless to say, it’s JRPG combat 101, without any complex mechanics bogging it down.

Adding a little variety to the gameplay loop are mini-games, doled out every now and then. One saw us trying to make our way to an apple tree, fighting against strong winds. The game suddenly became a platformer with a side-on view for a short while, tasking us with jumping over and avoiding objects being blown at us. Another challenged us to hit cute Punipuni with a mallet as they fell from the top of the screen, our efforts rewarded with plentiful gold.

With its striking visual style that gives its characters a Chibi-like appearance, we have to say that we’re pretty enamoured with Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg so far. It may be back-to-basics in many regards, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun. And for those deterred by the time-limit aspect, worry not. This remake also features an unlimited mode, letting you play on after five years and end the game on your terms.

Atelier Marie Remake launches 13th July on PS4, PS5, Switch and PC.

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