Living the dream in Erde Wiege.

Another release in the Atelier series has come to the Nintendo Switch. Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream picks up where the first left off, continuing the story of Sophie and her quest to return her friend, Plachta, to a human again. For those not familiar with this series, Atelier Sophie 2 is a turn-based JRPG centered around crafting items as a main part of the story progression.

There are a whopping 23—yes, 23—games in the series spanning from the PS2 to modern systems today. Most of this series spent its time as Japanese exclusive releases only. Finally, the 6th game, Atelier Iris, was the first to come to the states on the Play Station 2. There are also three Nintendo DS releases. All the protagonists in this series are, or become, alchemists with the ability to make various items by mixing components.

But enough with the history lesson; onward to the game.

Compared to the previous Atelier game, this crafting system has had some nice changes. For instance, while the gathering is the same, the overly complex and time-consuming crafting is greatly simplified in this title by giving an auto feature. This feature mixes the components for you versus having to add them piece by piece. That option is still available for the enthusiast, but the auto feature is nice until you get a handle on the crafting mechanics.

Combat is a breeze. The simplified combo system makes it easier for the player to focus on gameplay versus what your companions were trying to instruct you to do in Atelier Sophie 1. While it’s simple, it works within the game well and doesn’t hinder or take from the experience.

This series has always looked great, and this game is no different. The cel-shaded visuals look like they were taken out of an anime and are truly excellent, as is the soundtrack. Combined, they could have made this title amazing.

So, you’re thinking, “What’s wrong then?”

As a whole, this is quite a solid title. However, my personal opinion is that it’s too similar to its predecessor. There are not enough gameplay changes to really feel that this is a brand new game. The combat system in the series hasn’t changed dramatically. Instead, it evolves with each installment so it’s different enough while having enough familiar components to keep it from having a steep learning curve.

The high points of Alteliar Sophie 2 are the narrative and the soundtrack. The story is immersive and, at times, comical. It’s very entertaining—keeping me involved and wanting to get further. The individual character development is well done, and it’s a lot of fun watching how everyone grows as the story progresses. Kazuki Yanagawa composed music for most of the Atelier series, and his work on Atelier Sophie 2 is superb. The musical scores for this game are top-notch and paint a magical sonic canvas that really pulls you in. I can’t praise them enough.

My overall take is that while Atelier Sophie 2 does nothing totally different as a sequel, it does do many things right. Streamlined crafting and a simplified combat system make this easier to be more invested in the story without keeping the average player wrapped up in overly complex game mechanics. It’s another win for the Atelier series.