The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book DX — Is it worth it?

The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book DX -- Is it worth it?

Following hot on the heels of pretty much every old game in the series, Atelier Sophie, plus its two siblings in the Mysterious trilogy, is getting a special version with some changes and extra content. Its not exactly the most well-liked game in the bunch, so I thought I’d break down all the new additions, as well as how the game holds up over these last few years. It’s worth mentioning that Steam is delisting the previous version of the game and, if you already own it, you’ll still have to buy Atelier Sophie DX.

Atelier Sophie DX starts out with the game’s protagonist, Sophie, attempting to make rudimentary medicine via alchemy. After writing the recipe down in a book, it starts talking to her. The basic gist of the narrative is that Sophie has to complete tasks to get the book its memories back, while she grows as an alchemist along the way. As this is a Japanese game, the book eventually turns into a girl wearing lingerie. Makes perfect sense. It’s an Atelier game, so there’s a whole lot of conversation between fairly dull, cookie-cutter characters. Your mileage will vary.

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Of the three games in the Mysterious trilogy, I’d say that Atelier Sophie DX holds up the worst. It’s got the most rudimentary combat and alchemy mechanics of the three. Although, it isn’t all that far behind regardless. The main unique feature regarding alchemy is that certain traits are added by placing and arranging components onto a grid. If the components end up completing a line, the final product changes. The space is narrower here and doesn’t explain itself as well as it does in later games, but it’s fine. The combat, while basic, also works well enough. It’s traditional JRPG stuff.

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Look away, I’m hideous!

Atelier Sophie DX is very visually dated compared to its siblings. The geometry of the areas is horribly simple, textures are low-resolution and bland, and the areas themselves are typically tiny. It makes me think that it started development as a PSP game. It just doesn’t look all that great. The character models fare better, though, as their colorful anime style still looks decent. Still, if you’re coming from one of the Ryza games, going back to Sophie is going to be a bit of a challenge.

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There’s a bit of new stuff in Atelier Sophie DX, most of which probably won’t make it worth a second buy. Sophie can dash now, which is a feature that was added with Firis. Unfortunately, you can’t zoom the camera out, which means that it’s going to stay extremely close to Sophie at all times. Since it automatically turns as she moves, the game is almost nauseating to play. This version also adds a photo mode, plus the ability to speed up battle by up to two times.

The biggest new addition to the game itself is a new substory focusing on Sophie finding an old dress her grandmother used to wear. It mostly seems to exist to put her in a skimpier outfit (not surprising). Sophie also has access to different varieties of cauldrons that add various alchemy effects. Finally, most of the base game’s DLC is included, such as background music packs, costumes, a harder difficulty, a new gathering area, and an epilogue. But big fans likely already have most of that stuff. As such, it’s a bit hard to recommend Atelier Sophie DX to owners of the original or fans checking out older entries. It’s a solid game, but the other two will likely be more enjoyable.

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