As with other games in this series, this one is full of pretty art, chirpy songs, and sappy sentiment. It also has a good helping of fun combat, amusing dialogue, and experimental crafting that will keep you glued to it for hours. Japanese role-playing games are known for two things: beautiful character work and "grinding" (repeating actions to make characters more powerful). The first is here in spades. This is easily the best-looking Atelier game out there, with bright colors and gorgeous watercolor effects on hair and clothing. Unfortunately, the second is also here, which means the fun is contingent on hours of repetition.
Much of the fun is the story, and story progress is sometimes hamstrung by a special Memory meter. Filling it is required, and this depends on your ability to invent and execute recipes. Successful recipes, in turn, are dependent on how good you are at gathering stuff without getting killed. Combat is fast and flashy, and the multi-hero Support Attack system offers plenty of strategic options. Also, although random fights can be annoying, once you're back at the atelier, you're in for a lot of fun thanks to the revamped crafting system. Functioning as a visual puzzle, crafting involves fitting variously shaped ingredients into a grid; the better they fit, the better the item. It's fun to do, and the suspense of waiting to see your results makes it exciting. In the end, some players could be put off by the sections of enforced repetition. But those willing to endure it are in for some fun surprises.