Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy Review: A Legend All Its Own
I didn’t have to wait very long to play one of my most-anticipated titles of 2021. Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy actually launched over a month ago in Japan, but it gets its North American release today for Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, and PC via Steam.
In my preview, I applauded the cozy world that has been created in the 22nd entry into the long-running Atelier series, along with the game’s combat mechanics, alchemy system, characters, and narrative. All of these elements have seamlessly found their way into the final version of the game, making Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy a can’t-miss title if you enjoyed the first Atelier Ryza game, or enjoy JRPGs in general.
Atelier Ryza 2 takes place three years after the events of the first game, Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout. While her friends have all left Kurken island, Ryza’s days are spent studying and teaching alchemy. The monotony of her daily routine has left Ryza yearning for some excitement, so she decides to make the trip off of the island to the capital city of Ashra-am Baird, where her friend Tao – a face you’ll recognize from the first game – now resides. Tao informed her of a handful of closeby ruins that might aid Ryza in her quest to become a highly-skilled alchemist, which ultimately helped her make up her mind about leaving. Before sailing away from Kurken, however, Ryza also agrees to investigate a mysterious stone, which – after interacting with the first set of ruins – turns out to be an egg that hatches into a dragon-like fairy creature that Ryza names Fi.
That’s the 30-second elevator pitch for the game, but there’s a lot more to the story than that, with new and old characters to meet along the way. Despite its fantasy setting, Atelier Ryza 2 maintains a more down-to-earth narrative, which I appreciate compared to other JRPGs that feature more high-stakes storylines. It also allows for a deeper emotional connection to the characters, a trend that continues from the original game. Although you don’t necessarily need to play Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout prior to playing Atelier Ryza 2, it’s a worthwhile thing to do given the nature of the game’s character-driven story. If you need convincing, it’s also something that the producer of the game recommends doing.
Playing the first game will also allow you to be immediately familiar with the features in Atelier Ryza 2, since most of them are relatively unchanged – if not improved upon. Ryza’s ability to synthesize items through alchemy remains as a major component of the game. As you explore Ashra-am Baird and its surrounding areas, you’ll be farming materials that can be used in Ryza’s giant cauldron to make different items that can help her and the rest of the team while in battle, such as for healing or buffing stats and abilities.
If you’ve never played an Atelier entry before, the synthesis system can be overwhelming, to say the least. The system’s tutorial does its best to bring you up to speed, but you’ll ultimately learn best through trial and error as you unlock recipes. This is one of the biggest pain points with Atelier Ryza 2, since it’s often you’ll find yourself wondering exactly what ingredients recipes require. I struggled with this initially, synthesizing a ton of unnecessary items before I finally realized what it was that I actually needed to do (I had to create an entirely new item first). The skill tree and overall navigation of the user interface also takes some time to get used to, but eventually, you’ll be slinging materials with ease as you create new and useful items.
Combat is also similar to the first game, featuring a turn-based, live-action hybrid type of combat that’s aptly described as a “real-time tactics” battle system. In addition to your regular attacks, you’ll build up AP to be used for your characters’ special abilities while building up CC to use items. Probably the best part of each battle is that you can switch to any of your other party members on-the-fly, taking advantage of any of their abilities to take out enemies. As you do, the other characters will take their actions automatically, though usually, by the time you cycle back to Ryza, she’s ready to unleash her specials again. The interactivity of the battle system makes encounters a lot more fun than, say, a traditional turn-based combat system.
To supplement the main questline, you’ll have the ability to do side missions the reward Ryza with SP. You’ll never really be hurting for SP, but it’s a nice way to get extra while interacting with other non-party NPCs and exploring various areas of the in-game world.
The best part about Ryza, though, is undoubtedly the world in which the adventure takes place. The grandiose structures of Ashra-am Baird. The sweeping, rolling hills and fields of the area surrounding the city. The mystery of the ancient ruins. Even Ryza’s incredible loft apartment. It all adds up to a place teeming with whimsy and wonder – one that I would absolutely love to visit, if it were real. Despite the typical invisible walls, exploring the world is a genuine joy only elevated by the game’s delightful soundtrack, which I’ve been playing on repeat since playing Atelier Ryza 2. What makes exploring the in-game world even more satisfying, though, is Ryza’s ability to swim, climb cliffside vines, and even ride on the back of a creature that can help expedite travel as well as dig up crafting materials for Ryza’s alchemy work.
It all adds up to a beautiful experience in Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy. There’s a bit of a learning curve with the game’s synthesis and battle systems, but Atelier Ryza 2 is a game that is easy going enough to allow you to take your time to truly get a handle on everything it has to offer (which is a lot). I was already eyeing the 1:7 Scale PVC Ryza statue that’s available next month. After playing Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy, I can say with complete confidence that I’ll be pulling the trigger on that purchase. Not too many games can boast having that sort of impact on me.
A PS5 copy of Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy was provided to TheGamer for this review. Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy is available now on PC, PS4, PS5, and Nintendo Switch.
- Game Reviews
- Atelier Ryza
Sam has been writing for TheGamer since early 2018, earning the role as the Lead Features & Review Editor in 2019. The Denver, Colorado-native’s knack for writing has been a life-long endeavor. His time spent in corporate positions has helped shape the professional element of his creative writing passion and skills. Beyond writing, Sam is a lover of all things food and video games, which – especially on weekends – are generally mutually exclusive, as he streams his gameplay on Twitch (as well as TheGamer’s Facebook page) under the self-proclaimed, though well-deserved moniker of ChipotleSam. (Seriously…just ask him about his Chipotle burrito tattoo). You can find Sam on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook as @RealChipotleSam.
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