With twenty-two main chapters and nearly as many spinoffs, fans just can't seem to get enough of the alchemical adventures of this series. Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dreams is the twenty third game in the main franchise, and a direct sequel to 2016's original introduction of the "Mysterious" saga of the series. Timing is everything too. Since the game takes place immediately following the events of the first game, Sophie, and by extension the player, isn't starting off as a blank slate. While players don't need to have played the previous game to understand what's going on here, this is still a character that's already seen some action as an alchemist. This means the adventure starts off by giving players immediate access to a range of special abilities and crafting skills. It might seem like a small thing, but considering most sequels try to come up with an excuse for the character to have conveniently forgotten everything they were capable of in their previous adventures, this feels like a nice change of pace, as well as a reward for returning fans.
Atelier Sophie 2 doesn't just rehash the mechanics of the first game and call it a day. Lots of changes have been made, with combat getting the biggest improvements. Now the party is split into two teams, front and rear, with the support team able to add extra shielding from enemy attacks. Also, characters can tag up for powerful "Dual Trigger" skills, unleashing a coordinated team attack. The "Synthesis" mode has been expanded as well. Since both Sophie and Plachta are skilled in alchemy, they can work together to craft more complex recipes and even choose between Standard or Restricted panels in a risk/reward system that can earn higher quality results. The changes to the Synthesis system are interesting, even if it can feel repetitive. On the whole, though, Atelier Sophie is a colorful, upbeat fantasy that should appeal to those looking for a break from darker, grittier role-playing games.