Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey

Game review by
Marc Saltzman, Common Sense Media
Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey Game Poster Image
Light, accessible adventure restrained by technical issues.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Messages about fulfilling dreams, family outweighed by focus on battle, objectification of women.

Positive Role Models & Representations

You play a young, enthusiastic, naive girl called Firis Mistlud, who, with her loving older sister, Liane, leave their isolated town of Ertona to discover real world. Firis is smart, driven, brave, fights lots of monstrous enemies.

Ease of Play

Simple controls; easy to learn.

Violence

Turn-based combat sequences with foes, using weapons, magic. No blood, gore; cartoonish presentation limits impact.

Sex

One scene with partial nudity, where female characters are bathing; their breasts, genitalia mostly obscured by bubbles, steam. One female boss enemy has large breasts, shows lots of cleavage; her breasts bounce when she flies around.

Language

At least one instance of "s--t," as well as "damn," "hell."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One long sequence shows an inebriated man at a bar.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey is a role-playing game (RPG). Combat is against monsters with weapons and magic, but there's no blood or gore and a cartoonish presentation. Some women in a bath have their breasts and genitals covered with soapy foam, while another monster shows off lots of cleavage. The word "s--t" can be heard in dialogue, along with "damn" and "hell." Players also will interact with an inebriated man in a bar. 

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What's it about?

ATELIER FIRIS: THE ALCHEMIST AND THE MYSTERIOUS JOURNEY follows the adventures of a young female alchemist in training, Firis Mistlud, and her older sister, Liane, as the duo -- and some friends -- step out of their isolated town of Ertona. Blessed with an ability to see where crystals of materials are buried, the sisters set out on an adventure for Firis to become a certified alchemist, unravel the mysteries of the craft while taking on quests, battle monstrous foes who want to stand in their way, collect precious materials, craft new spells and items, and sharpen their skills over time. Throughout this single-player narrative, you'll traverse towns, countrysides, and other locations. You can choose which path to follow after passing the exam -- tied to alchemy, combat, or character relationships -- with the ability to switch among the three paths at any point during the story.

Is it any good?

This enjoyable and accessible RPG is easy to pick up and digs its claws in with its scale, combat, likable characters, and ways to play the game. It's not a perfect 10 -- there are some pacing oddities, repetition, and a few technical issues -- but it's an admirable follow-up to its 2015 predecessor. As with Atelier Sophie, you’ll get recipes and achieve a high-enough alchemy level to synthesize more powerful items, which can then be used in battle. This involves a grid-like system where you'll mix and match to create magical blasts, special moves, health potions, and more. The only thing better than the turn-based battles -- where you and your party of characters take turns with monstrous baddies to deplete each other's life force -- is the tougher boss fights that require more persistence, tactics, and help from others. Between Chain Bursts -- devastating attacks that automatically launch after your fighting gauge reaches the top -- and Chain Strikes -- special abilities unique to each character -- the combat rounds are exciting and rewarding.

The quests are fun and varied, and now you can make personal choices that let you play the game how you want to play -- but some quests are better than others. Plus, after a few hours there's a bit of repetition in your missions. But the combat is highly enjoyable, and so are the bigger areas to explore and new characters you'll meet. It's one of those games you continue to think about when you're not playing it. Even with the minor glitches like frame rate stutters and some "clipping" issues, where you might lose part of yourself in an object, this is a fun Japanese RPG worth considering. Especially for fans of JRPGs, this new adventure is delightful for teens and adults.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can discuss female stereotypes. Does this game paint women in a positive light with a story about two brave sisters who want to fight evil, or does it objectify them with nude bathing scenes and a female boss character with large, jiggly breasts?

  • Discuss violence in video games. Is the combat in this game acceptable because you're fighting monsters in a cartoonish fashion, or is it bad because of the focus on combat?

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