Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg Review
Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg is a blast from the past in all the best ways and only a few of the annoying ones. If you’re a fan of retro JRPGs or the Atelier series, you owe it to yourself to play this game. And even if you aren’t, you’ll probably have a blast crafting and exploring with Marie.
For new fans, this is the game that invented the modern JRPG crafting system. This title has never been released to English-speaking audiences before. It’s cute, it’s fun, and it’s incredibly successful. This leisure adventure RPG is definitely a game to remember.
In a world of chosen heroes and terrible monsters, most people live ordinary lives. Marlone—Marie for short—is one of those ordinary people. An alchemy student on the verge of flunking takes one final test. In five years, she must create a high-grade item and impress her teacher. If she succeeds, she can graduate as an alchemist. If she fails, she’s expelled.
Fortunately, Marie is pretty good at making friends and may be good at self-study, too. With a bit of help and a lot of effort, she may become an alchemist yet.
A Trial and Error Coming of Age Story
Atelier Marie Remake is a largely slice-of-life experience. Marie runs around town, doing quests, crafting items, and talking to people. Hiring adventurers to escort her while gathering items is critical. Both for safety and because adventuring together builds friendship. Marie’s friends are more likely to give her quests and trigger events, and less likely to charge high prices for escorts. The characters are archetypal but fun. Some of these character types are hard to find in modern JRPGs, so seeing them all was very nostalgic.
Meeting various criteria will unlock new events exploring Marie’s relationships with those around her. Most events are pretty short and simple, reminding me of the skits in Tales games. However, they’re always entertaining, and some reveal new facets of Marie’s friends. Professor Ingrid also periodically gives Marie optional assignments. These tasks form the base structure of Marie’s life for the next five years. However, they’re not difficult, and it’s easy to complete them early by accident.
This game looks like a remake of a retro game. The in-game graphics use a soft, adorable Chibi style. It isn’t stunning but it’s functional. Detailed anime portraits appear in cutscenes and add a touch of realism. However, they’re firmly anchored in the sensibilities of 90s JRPGs. Do not mistake any of this for complaining: I adore retro JRPGs. If you’re a fan of the classics,will be delightfully nostalgic. And if you aren’t, this title is a good place to test the waters.
I’m also really fond of the game’s music. Every cheerful tune put a spring in my step as I wandered around Salburg. And the creepy ones always put me in the mood for a gentle scare. Sadly, this title only has Japanese audio available. The voice acting is quite good though.
Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg is a Charming Nostalgia Trip
Having played Atelier Ryza 3, the game’s crafting system was immediately familiar. Fortunately, Atelier Marie Remake has a far simpler version of its successor’s labyrinthine alchemy maze. Unfortunately, this game also has a time limit. Crafting items, traveling out of town, and going to and from the atelier all take time. And Marie has a very limited number of days available. Synthesizing takes valuable time. Before taking a quest, you need to make sure you have the supplies ready. If you can’t complete it by the deadline, you’re better off not taking it at all.
Going on expeditions is genuinely dangerous at first, especially if you’re going to a high-level location. Traveling takes time and means risking an ambush. Every resource you gather takes time, as does every fight. Running from battle is often the smartest choice. Accidentally taking a quest for rare ingredients can feel like playing a survival horror game. The game does feature an Unlimited mode where Marie can take her time and relax. But in Normal mode, planning ahead is crucial. Especially if you want to see all the game’s events. This is basically a management strategy game with RPG elements.
Although Atelier Marie went down in JRPG history for its crafting system, the game’s atmosphere is also wonderful. Salburg is a charming little town and I always ran around talking to everyone before beginning my day. Gathering rumors, checking to see if anyone would give me gifts, and searching for events was very fun. Checking my schedule constantly was less fun, but I did it anyway.
There’s a lot to do in this game. But as long as you keep on top of things, you should be able to scrape out a passing grade for Marie. I poked my nose into everything and consistently completed my assignments before they were even assigned. Automatically completing the main story quests was amusing and left me more time to experiment with crafting and level up my party members. Schea’s pretty deadly with a broom after some strengthening.
This is the sort of game you could and should play repeatedly. Because odds are you won’t get everything the first time. There are tons of optional scenes, plenty of items to craft, and a lot of quests to do. I dedicated my first playthrough to figuring out what the game even had to offer. The answer is quite a lot. Between exploring, gathering, crafting, combat, quests, and managing her relationships, Marie’s life is always busy.
I did run into a few issues. For starters, it can be hard to figure out how to manage fairies because the tutorial doesn’t mention specific buttons. This seems like a rather basic oversight. The most frustrating part of the crafting system is not fatigue or recommended skill levels. It’s the amount of time that crafting even one item can take. I understand now why Atelier Ryza 3 removed that aspect. I keep wanting to lose myself in crafting, but the ticking clock won’t let me.
There are lots of minigames in Atelier Marie Remake and I’m not really sure why. They’re fun and the rewards are nice, especially for smashing punis. But this is clearly a piece of retro game design that wasn’t updated for the remake. The minigames can feel quite jarring as a result. Also, sometimes Marie will wander upward without any controller input. This can be a real problem while gathering, as she can walk right into monsters.
All in all, Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg is still a classic worth taking a look at. This game is challenging, but it’s not unfair. And frankly, the challenge is half the appeal. The other half of the appeal is the crafting and the cute girls, of course.
***PC code provided by the publisher***
- Excellent crafting system
- Lots to do
- Good replay value
- Nice challenge level
- Visuals could be improved
- Characters are archetypes
- Minigames don’t quite fit
- Time limit can be stressful
- Minor control issues