Atelier Sophie 2 is the latest entry by Koei Tecmo in the Mysterious series. The franchise has been in existence for quite a long time now. Aside from a steadfast fan-following, the series has gone undetected in the western market since its release.
However, it started to gain popularity after Atelier Ryza came in 2019, primarily because of character designs and the open world.
As Ryza sits at the top in terms of highest sales among the other Atelier games, this brings in many new fans, such as myself, to try out other entries from Koei Tecmo. While the franchise is slowly gaining popularity in the western market, it remains a mystery to a lot of newcomers.
The modern era Atelier games consist of three trilogies and a few standalone titles. The trilogy consists of three games from Arland, Dusk, and Mysterious series alongside standalone games such as Lulua and Nelke.
Atelier Sophie falls in the Mysterious trilogy of the franchise. It follows a separate story about our titular protagonist and her journey to being an alchemist. Koei Tecmo manages to keep the charm of slice-of-life and alchemy from their previous games and make them more polished for both newcomers and veterans alike.
Instead of Kirchen Bell, Atelier Sophie 2 takes us to the vast world of Erde Wiege, a land created by the Goddess of Dreams.
Atelier Sophie 2 review: The new and engaging world
If the first game has taken us on a journey through the surrounding areas of Kirchen Bell, Atelier Sophie 2 brings a whole different approach to the open world. From the very beginning, our two main characters, Sophie and Plachta, can be seen approaching the “Dream Tree.” The game doesn’t explain much regarding this entity, aside from the fact that only a “dream” has brought Plachta here.
This was followed by a mysterious portal starting to drag Plachta away, along with our protagonist Sophie, eventually ending up in a completely different world from where she grew up.
As someone quite new to the Mysterious franchise, the game didn’t make me feel out of the loop in the story, which I loved. After the teleportation, a couple of girls saved Sophie and gave her a rundown of the place she’s currently in. Atelier Sophie 2 doesn’t act as a sequel. Instead, it offers players a fresh take on new characters and locations and how a new story should feel.
For the most part, you will be spending time in your Atelier, a safe house of sorts, alongside the cauldron. Unlike Sophie’s place at Kirchen Bell, the new Atelier is relatively larger in scale, both inside and outside. The ultimate endgame is to find Plachta and get out of the dreamland.
Roytale has been introduced to the players as a central metropolis, which I feel Koei Tecmo has worked immensely hard on. Compared to Kirchen Bell in the first game, Roytale feels much more alive due to the improved lighting during both day and night. Every NPC has a specific set of dialogue, allowing me to get rare materials.
This one time, I struggled to find Gumstones in the wild, which made me take a brief stroll around the town. Much to my surprise, I got it by conversing with a random guy.
Each location in Atelier Sophie 2 consists of distinct qualities influenced by people’s dreams, from weather to monsters. Due to the diverse nature of these locations, I couldn’t stop myself from exploring and gathering materials for a new recipe.
The game does a decent job in maintaining its environment and resources interconnected with open-world mechanics, making the player more involved with a particular location.
Allies from a different time and a different world
Characters in Atelier games can either go wrong or be done just right. While exploring the vast world of Erde Wiege, I was constantly reminded of why I fell in love with my companions in the first place.
Coming from the first game, there was an instant connection between the character designs of both games without knowing a whole lot at first. This wasn’t a case of reusing assets. Instead, they ARE the same characters, only from a different timeline.
The main playable party consists of people Sophie gets acquainted with while progressing the story.
Like other Atelier games, everyone is very nice to the protagonist, which further contributes to the slice-of-life aspect rather than drama. The six playable characters are Sophie, Plachta, Allette, Olias, Diebold, and Ramizel.
As a fan of anime in general, I got more interested and drawn to these characters due to their JP voices. Famous voice acting personalities like Rie Takahashi, Ueda Reina, Aoi Yuki, and Tomoaki Maeno voice some central characters. I was quick to catch on to this and tell myself, “Wait, I know this voice.”
It helped me invest in a specific character’s personality even more.
Each party member has their skills and weapons, alongside other traits. Atelier Sophie 2 keeps the character aesthetics similar to previous titles, giving everyone a unique look inside the land of dreams.
Sometimes, the game made me forget about Sophie being the main character, as most of the side encounters are based around the other five. While no one felt left out of the conversation, everyone had a part in the core session of the story.
As someone who tends to look for good side characters, I found everyone in Atelier Sophie 2 holding the key to Sophie’s progression in finding Plachta.
Combat: Give your enemies a good thwack!
Koei Tecmo has mastered the art of providing fast and smooth combat while keeping turn-based at the core of every battle. The new system lets Sophie and her friends start a fight immediately after coming into contact with the enemy.
This provided a smooth transition between exploration and combat, where I almost wanted to fight everyone for resources. I usually wouldn’t do that in a game based on crafting.
The maximum playable number of characters is six, with three in front and three as backups. As a turn-based fan, I was still in awe of how far the combat mechanics have come.
While most turn-based games can become repetitive after a certain amount of playtime, Atelier Sophie 2 kept me going due to the polished transitions each time I went in and out of a fight.
The core battle mechanics in Atelier Sophie 2 are more or less the same as any traditional turn-based JRPGs. “Use your skills wisely, keep an eye out for Mana, and perform special skills by interacting with more than one character in a single attack.” Okay, maybe not THAT same, because Twin Action might be the best thing here when it comes to combat.
Things tend to get intense since each character can attack or block any incoming damage to save a fellow party member. This made me forget that I am playing a crafting game based on cute anime designs.
While there isn’t a time limit for each attack, consumables are the primary items in a fight. I learned that the hard way, as Atelier Sophie 2 punishes you for not stocking up on medicines before venturing out.
With five other members supporting Sophie, it kept me from being afraid of someone dying in a fight. Only when it happens could I easily choose another member from the backup to help Sophie and others in the front line.
Synthesis: Gather, learn, and get to work
Gathering materials and synthesis are some of the best things that I’ve gotten out of this game. Actually, scratch that. The best stuff in Atelier Sophie 2 is the cute designs, but the series brings you work on the crafting and the interlinked features surrounding it.
There are over 100 recipes to work on here, each requiring three to four specific objectives to unlock them. One of these objectives further provides the necessary details to obtain the recipe. This helped me a lot in speedrunning through most ideas, as the accessibility to each location is much easier than previous Atelier games.
Since I’ve played the game on PC, all I had to do was press my Middle Mouse Button to bring up the World Map, select any location, and instantly teleport there via Journey Stones.
Additionally, the map entries also list down the resources that can be gathered, allowing me to spend more time inside the game rather than thinking about what I need on the menu.
Coming to Synthesis, the crafting in this game is much easier to understand after a few beginner recipes. Being the centre of any Atelier game, the crafting system needed to be as clear as possible to new players, and Atelier Sophie 2 did not disappoint.
Each recipe was clear to understand due to the required elements and the mini-diagram of the overall layouts. While being very different from the first game, the crafting in Atelier Sophie 2 is straightforward and rewarding at the same time.
“Fill the entire panel for increased quality, or fill the panels with the same element for increased effect. Nothing more, nothing less.”
The gathering in this game works like in-game achievements, where the more I collect from random locations, the more recipes I unlock. This got me hooked on collecting plants and mining, which further led me to build separate pieces of equipment.
I loved this combination of asking players to grind for resources while giving them complete freedom to explore at their own pace. However, the only issue here is the scarcity of navigation for any unlearnt recipe.
While the objectives for any quest item are marked with a blue flag on the minimap, random blueprints have a completely different purpose. They provide very little information unless you know exactly what you’re looking for.
This might get a little tiring for beginner players, but it felt like Koei Tecmo wanted to keep it in the game to make things a little more challenging.
Changing the weather? Mightily Curious indeed!
I was so impressed with Atelier Sophie 2’s weather system so much that I decided to make a separate section to write about it. Remember how you had to wait for certain weather types in the previous games? Well, now you change them on the fly.
Whenever I needed a specific material to gather or an enemy to kill, I decided to pop in, change the weather, and get back to my Atelier.
This saved me a lot of time and helped me progress through the stories and the side recipes faster and more efficiently. Atelier Sophie 2 lets you change the weather of almost any terrain except the Windswept Plains, a beginner’s area where it’s sunny every day.
While you need to progress into the story to craft the materials for weather manipulation, getting your hands on one isn’t so tough. With the game’s in-built system of showing quest objectives on the mini-map, I instantly knew where I had to gather to make the required gadget.
If I ever wanted to fish or stride across floating crates on a different platform, I could always make it rain instantly. This allowed me to spend more time on the field rather than resting to fast forward the time. It is possible since the measurement of resources here is done by weather rather than the time of the day.
While time progression is still a thing, most areas stay unaffected, whether midday or night.
As I’ve mentioned before, Atelier Sophie 2 takes place in a whereabouts utterly different from the real world. Since people’s dreams influence each weather effect, Koei Tecmo did a fantastic job in complementing the new mechanics with the ongoing plot of the main story.
Photo mode: Make your own Isekai memories
Much like a traditional Atelier game, you won’t see anyone running in the open world besides Sophie. However, the only time you will get to see them will be during any battle or side activities with proper cutscenes.
So when it comes to capturing in-game moments after long sessions, I tend to look towards the amount of stuff it can offer me.
Atelier Sophie 2’s photo mode has seven settings, each branching out with numerous filters, frames, and focus. It allowed me to put all the playable characters in one frame, where each of them carried different poses and expressions. At the end of the day, I found myself switching to varying terrains for the right picture with all the options available in the photo mode.
While I might not have found the best place to capture all six characters in one frame, it goes on to show the number of possibilities and range the game offers to create our memories with other characters.
Performance and controls
Atelier Sophie 2 doesn’t ask much of your system. The review copy of the game provided by Koei Tecmo has been played on the following setup:
- Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 2600
- GPU: GTX 1060 6GB
- Ram: 16GB
Seeing how well the system mentioned above goes over the recommended settings, I had zero problems in terms of performance, even with maxed-out graphics at 1080p. Atelier Sophie 2 shines with its in-game world as it does with its optimization.
While running through the vast open world of Erde Wiege, I often pressed many buttons either for gathering or to initiate a fight. And I did all of that using Keyboard and Mouse. From movements to combat and crafting, I had zero problems playing on PC components, which kind of surprised me considering previous ports.
So if you’re looking to buy a controller to play Atelier Sophie 2 on PC, you don’t have to. Everything runs just fine with existing PC hardware.
Atelier Sophie 2 is a massive leap towards a new era in the franchise. I had an absolute blast while sitting through some of the updated features this game had to offer. While the word “turn-based” tends to turn off many people, I urge everyone to try Atelier Sophie 2 due to a lot of new mechanics and a significant amount of updates from the previous game.
New players looking to go through the plot of Mysterious Book can do so as Sophie 2 provides a recap in the main menu.
The game retains traditional coloring features alongside JRPG combat, making the experience seamless for new players. Atelier Sophie 2 The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream is wholeheartedly recommended to all JRPG and Atelier fans, as Koei Tecmo’s latest entry to the Mysterious series is truly a high-quality recipe with very few flaws.
Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream
Reviewed On: PC (Review code provided by Koei Tecmo Europe)
Platforms: PC (Steam), PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Nintendo Switch
Developer: Koei Tecmo
Publisher: Koei Tecmo Games Co., Ltd.
Release Date: February 24, 2022