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Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout Game Poster Image
Magical adventure of friendship and discovering potential.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The game features the standard fantasy theme of "good versus evil," as well as unlikely heroes called to move beyond their limitations and to live up to their true potentials. There are also strong themes for friendship.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ryza is a young girl that begins the story craving adventure, and when she finds it, she discovers that she's capable of more than she thought possible. She and her friends strive achieve their dreams, while also working to help others in need and to save their homeland.

Ease of Play

The game ditches the strictly turn-based combat of previous games in favor of a more real-time system that requires players to constantly be lining up actions without much breathing room. There's also a lot of menu navigation and inventory management required from players in order to be most effective against enemies.

Violence

Players fight against creatures, humans, and other enemies in fantasy combat, using a variety of medieval weapons such as swords and staves, combined with magical spells and abilities. There's no blood or gore, with attacks appearing onscreen as flashy effects and defeated enemies simply disappearing from the screen.

Sex

Some female characters are shown in somewhat suggestive ways, particularly with heavy cleavage that's occasionally highlighted by the camera.

Language

The words "ass" and "bastard" pop up occasionally in the dialogue.

Consumerism

The game supports the purchase of additional downloadable content (DLC) with additions skins, map, and stories. Latest chapter in the Atelier role-playing game franchise.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Although never shown onscreen, the dialogue makes frequent references to drinking alcohol and getting drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout is a fantasy role-playing game available for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Windows-based PCs. Players recruit characters and set out to save their world by fighting against enemies with medieval weapons and magical abilities. There's no blood or gore, with most of the violence taking the form of exaggerated moves and flashy effects. It does have some instances of mild profanity and, while not shown onscreen, the dialogue makes multiple references to drinking alcohol or getting drunk. Finally, while women in the game tend to be portrayed as strong, independent characters, many are still presented in a suggestive manner, with revealing outfits and camera angles that emphasize their bodies.

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What's it about?

ATELIER RYZA: EVER DARKNESS AND THE SECRET HIDEOUT is the latest chapter in the Koei Tecmo's popular Atelier fantasy role-playing series. Here, players are introduced to Ryza Stout, a young girl with a big heart and a stubborn personality that dreams of a bigger life outside of her quaint little village. When a chance discovery gives Ryza and her friends the opportunity to explore the world beyond their home, they suddenly find themselves pulled into a grand adventure, one where the fate of the entire world hangs in the balance. To drive back the forces of darkness, Ryza must tap into her full potential and master the mysterious power of alchemy.

Is it any good?

For more than twenty years and twenty games, fans from around the globe have been drawn into the magic and fantasy of the epic Atelier role-playing series. Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout is the series' latest entry, but also marks a new start for the cult-classic franchise. Starting as it does, in a village isolated from the rest of the world, the game's able to start fresh, without having to assume players understand the long history of the prior titles. Newcomers are able to learn about the nuances of alchemy and its importance in this setting from Ryza's perspective, gaining a sense of understanding right alongside her. Meanwhile, characters are engaging enough so that veteran Atelier players still get invested in their stories, even as the familiarity of the world unfolds around them.

Gameplay's also been given a bit of a facelift in Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout. The Synthesis system allows players to use alchemy to create and upgrade various weapons and other items. It's a simplified crafting formula relying on plugging components into a branching recipe, and it gives a certain amount of pride and ownership over items bought or scavenged throughout the adventure. Previously, combat was strictly turn-based, giving players as much time as they wanted to work out their strategy. This time around though, the combat is a hybrid of real-time and turn-based actions. Players still navigate menus and queue up their actions for each turn, but now the clock is always ticking. It creates more tense and complicated battles, especially when trying to adjust your strategy on the fly. Overall, Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout is a great introduction to a genuinely magical world, and it's easily the best entry to date in the Atelier series.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the portrayal of women in games. What are some of the positive and negative ways that women are portrayed in video games? What are some examples of games that feature women as positive role models?

  • What sort of impact does video game violence have on younger gamers? Do flashy effects and fantasy settings help to reduce the impact as opposed to more gritty and realistic depictions?

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