Parents' Guide to

Nelke and the Legendary Alchemists: Ateliers of the New World

By David Chapman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Lighthearted town builder almost plays itself.

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This new role-playing adventure with alchemists and adventures brews up a story that falls flat for everyone but the strongest fans of this long-running franchise. The Atelier franchise has a strong base of fans that have become familiar with gameplay and adventures of magically adept Alchemists, but that all goes out the window with Nelke and the Legendary Alchemists: Ateliers of the New World. The game, though set firmly in the same universe, is a spin-off title that twists both the story and the gameplay in completely different directions. The main focus is to build the town of Westbald from the ground up, by placing your buildings, managing personnel, generating and collecting resources, etc. It's almost a cut-and-paste take on mobile city building games with a bigger, more colorful presentation. The material gathering is done on autopilot, with your party randomly finding items or fighting enemies. In fact, if not for the combat encounters, you could almost get up and walk away during these exploration sequences.

While exploration and resource gathering is mundane, there's magic in the battles ... literally speaking. Here, Atelier fans will feel more at home. Your party of heroes use basic attacks to build their Drive, which can be used to speed up their actions or use special abilities. But that's all there is, and fights are resolved quickly before your team goes back along its merry way. It's hard not to feel like this was tacked on to give players a little something extra to do and to give the Alchemists' appearance in the game some extra purpose, which is the game's biggest fault. The town building and life simulation bits are pretty engaging, and its lighthearted story and presentation, even if they're a bit cheesy, are fun to watch. Outside of this main focus, though, things feel like an afterthought, added to the game for little purpose other than to distract players and cram in an extra bit of fan service to tie the game to the overall Atelier universe.

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