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  1. Developer: Gust Corporation Publisher: Koei-Tecmo Platform: Vita Release Date: January 19, 2016 ESRB: T for Teen Another year, another Atelier game. Except... not exactly. It was not until fairly recently that Atelier Sophie was announced (and with a June release date as well). So, before Atelier Sophie was confirmed, I was facing a very serious existential problem as an Atelier fan. Much like an alchemist needs a cauldron to start crafting, I need a new Atelier game to start my year otherwise everything feels off (maybe not true, but I was not about to find out). In order to avoid such a tragic fate, I decided to shift my gaze towards the enhanced port of a former PS3 release with Atelier Escha & Logy Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky on Vita, purely in the hopes of satiating my yearly Atelier fix. Now, admittedly, I have already reviewed the original release of Atelier Escha & Logy back on PS3. Quite in-depth, I might add (maybe too in-depth...). Because of this, rather than inadvertently writing the same review twice, I will focus on what is new to Atelier Escha & Logy Plus and with the context of having played its sequel (and the final part of the "Dusk" trilogy) Atelier Shallie last year. Next to nothing has changed in regards to storytelling. The player still chooses between two alchemist protagonists at the start with either Escha (pink-hair) or Logy (white-hair) as they work together to bring the dwindling R&D division of the town Colseit back on track. Since I chose Escha my prior playthrough I decided to try out Logy's side for Plus. Which, despite some minor variations in cutscenes, endings, and in-game objectives, are quite similar overall. Even my opinion of the gameplay systems remain just about the same. The combat and deep alchemy mechanics are still fun and addictive, but a second playthrough easily solidified my thoughts on the game's overall limiting mission progression and lackluster storytelling events that propel them. What is new to the Plus version primarily comes in the form of new character events, costumes, and including all former DLC in the game by default. Most are not substantial on their own but add minor variety to the moment to moment gameplay. For instance, you can play dress-up by tossing cat ears on Logy, play former DLC only party members (as well as one entirely new character unique to Plus), and swap between (almost) any of the in-game music with tracks from many Gust games, which I certainly welcomed on my second playthrough... especially the cat ears on Logy part. I think the bullet point feature that they added specifically for Plus is how you can change the context of Escha and Logy's relationship. In the original their relationship was completely platonic, almost strangely so, and now there are scenes that give the player a choice to add more romantic undertones over time or remain the same. These scenes are very inconsequential at large (and don't really change any of the endings either), but I suppose the option is there for those that found their prior relationship weird and want more cutscenes between the two. Generally minor additions aside, the more pressing question is probably comtemplating how well does this port hold up compared to it on PS3. And, for the most part, the answer is decently well. It sacrifices a stable framerate in combat (which can be pretty choppy for flashier attack animations), however both the visuals and generally quick load times are faithful to its PS3 counterpart. There are a couple of oddities specific to Plus however. For example, some formally dubbed scenes on PS3 are not dubbed in the Vita version, while at the same time some of the new scenes are actually dubbed, which is kind of surprising. My best bet is that this was probably some file size balancing act (since the Japanese dub is a free separate download altogether), even if it came off as strange to me nonetheless. At the end of the day, Atelier Escha & Logy Plus does very little to change its inherent identity. Everything from the strength in its gameplay mechanics to its weaknesses in the awkward structure and flat storytelling/characters. There is certainly more content-wise in Atelier Escha & Logy Plus, but on the technical spectrum it may also be less desirable if one is particularly picky about framerate. Which, in all honesty, will only bring the question of which platform one would prefer to play it on since the new content is not that substantial (though generally welcome), and both versions being comparable enough. I still feel just about the exact same about Atelier Escha & Logy overall even with the Plus iteration. It is certainly a good title, with a solid port to boot, but it also has become that much more apparent to me that Atelier Escha & Logy is a stepping stone for what I found to be an ultimately better game, which is Atelier Shallie. Pros + Fairly faithful port of the original game + Includes all of the DLC by default from extra playable characters to the modifiable in-game soundtrack(s) + Lots of costumes and a few new story events Cons: - Framerate issues are quite noticeable in combat - Odd removal of English dub in previously voiced scenes - Still basically the same game, so... I stick by most of my original criticisms Overall Score: 7 (out of 10) Good A faithful port with a couple of neat perks included, but as a whole Atelier Escha & Logy Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky serves as little more than another means to play the title than an actual genuine refinement. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable Vita code provided by the publisher.
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