The Atelier franchise shows no sign of slowing down. Not long after the release of Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists, developer GUST and publisher Koei Tecmo Games released Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland. It’s the long-awaited fourth installment in the popular “Arland” series of titles, and so there is a lot of pressure on this entry to continue the standard that longtime fans have come to expect, while also having to be compelling for newcomers. So with that in mind, how does Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland hold up?
Returning to Arland for the fourth time players will be stepping into the shoes of Elmerulia Frixell, or Lulua for short. Lulua is a young girl living in a small town on the border of the Arland Republic who wants to become an alchemist just like her mother, Rorolina Frixell — who was the protagonist of the first Arland title. As her mother is not around, Lulua is learning under the watchful eyes of the alchemist Piana. Life is pretty normal until one day Lulua finds a power which is blank to everyone but herself and the wheels of fate begin to turn. From here, it’s an adventure to uncover the truth about the whole of Arland and the people who live there.
Although Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland will set players off on a grand adventure unlike anything they have seen before, the series’ stable gameplay loop remains the same. You will spend your time gathering materials, crafting items for use in battles and completing quests, and then engage in turn-based battles. These all function similar to past entries with a few small changes to make them more accessible. Gathering points are pretty much everywhere and yield large numbers of materials, crafting is a more streamlined experience with helpful prompts to explain the finer details and combat, albeit fairly fast, is easy to come to terms with.
By far the biggest change is in how Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland handles the series’ famous pressure of time limits. For those unfamiliar, the Atelier series is known for having strict deadlines in which quests and story content must be completed. It has always raised mixed reactions among fans but now, the pressure of time limits and deadlines is completely void. Instead, players now have the “Alchemyriddle”, a book which Lulua finds early on in the story.
This book requires that players solve riddles and puzzles within its pages in order to unlock quests, crafting recipes, and progress the story without having to worry about a hard deadline. Revealing the pages is as simple as going to a location, picking up a certain material, or even talking with someone. It’s a system that encourages you to explore the world and meet its people which also offers countless hours of extra content.
It is also worth noting that even though Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland is the fourth entry in the series you are under no pressure to have played the other three titles. Sure, you’ll have a more rewarding experience having that preexisting knowledge of who’s who in the game world but newcomers won’t be left in the dark. Small introductions for characters provide context while an ingame encyclopedia offers players the chance to read more in depth about plenty of details and events. This means that those jumping into the series for the first time will be able to enjoy Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland without any major lore problems.
So with all that in mind, does Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland deliver? Absolutely! It might even be fair to say that with the changes to make the title more accessible and the removal of time limits that this is one of the best entries in the Atelier series. Add to this the solid performance and impressive visuals on the PC release and you have a title that is worth spending your time in. Engaging gameplay, colourful characters, and a world full of excitement and mystery make Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland a joy to play and a title that fans, new and old, are sure to enjoy.