Atelier Sophie 2 brings the best of both worlds, combining elements from its predecessor with a new and improved battle system. The game’s main draw is still the characters’ story-driven narrative, which tries to make you feel for them through their personal struggles.

Atelier Sophie 2 is the sequel to the popular Atelier Ryza, which was released in 2010. The game has a new protagonist, Sophie, and a new setting that is set in a world where humans and vampires co-exist. This game is best of both worlds because it retains all the features from the previous games while also introducing some new ones.

Atelier Sophie 2 Review: The Best of Both Worlds

Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream is an excellent follow-up to Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book, which was released in 2016. It incorporates many of the new elements seen in previous Atelier games while maintaining its own distinct personality within the brand. It’s surprisingly deep, and it introduces a fresh new experience that builds on the previous.

Following the events of the preceding game, it follows Sophie Neuenmuller and Plachta. They are both dragged into a weird wormhole and sent to Erde Wiege, a new dream realm. Sophie, on the other hand, is unharmed, although she is separated from Plachta.

Sophie will meet a new cast of colorful individuals on her quest to locate Plachta and return to her hometown of Kirchen Bell, including another young woman with the same name as Plachta and another who looks similar to Sophie herself.

Those who haven’t played the first game may view a quick video description on the title screen to catch up on what’s happened so far. Because the previous game’s climax was so straightforward, it was intriguing to see how Gust and Koei Tecmo would approach a sequel. The studio really pulled it off by effectively bringing both Sophie and Plachta into a totally new environment and elaborating on their current connections – it’s quite the emotional trip.

The Best of Both Worlds in Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream

Atelier Sophie 2 overhauls its gameplay and exploration mechanisms, making them more analogous to Atelier Ryza 2 from last year. Time management isn’t as severe as it was in previous installments of the series, and not every action pushes the clock. However, the day/night cycle is still there, albeit it mostly influences the sorts of opponents encountered in the field.

Following Ryza’s lead, the overworld map has been divided into three primary zones, each with around three portions. Sophie now has a pickaxe, a bug net, and a fishing rod, among other equipment for harvesting minerals. This exploring method will seem quite familiar to anyone who have played Ryza, since it is almost identical. Sophie 2 is far more simplified and approachable than prior editions because to these mechanics.

Sophie 2’s investigation differs from Ryza in that it places a greater focus on weather. Sophie has access to a device that alters the weather in the immediate vicinity. She may, for example, make it rain such that the water level increases if there is a bed of water. She may then alter the weather to snow, freezing the water and allowing her to sprint over the new ice bed to a treasure box or another region. It’s really gratifying once you find out how to move farther as the game’s puzzle-solving aspect.

Character events are also more simpler to come by. To initiate events in the first game, players must go about town and speak with each key character. An icon of the character’s face now appears adjacent to their region, allowing you to save time and effort by identifying precisely when and where certain events will occur.

Sophie 2 also reduces the number of playable characters by around a third compared to the prior game, but this puts a greater focus on character development for each party member.

Turn-Based Combat’s Pinnacle

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Sophie 2 has a fighting system that is extremely similar to the Ryza games, yet it manages to carve out its own individuality. Sophie 2’s fights are far more detailed than its predecessor, since it clings to the conventional and rigid turn-based Atelier combat system rather than shifting to Ryza’s real-time and turn-based mix.

Your party members are divided into two groups: frontline and backline. Frontline soldiers, with their offensive techniques, perform the most effort in combat, but backline members do more than merely hang about. You have the option of swapping out anybody an opponent is targeting with one of your backline members before an enemy assault. Because they enter the frontline while blocking, the member who comes up will receive the strike, albeit with less damage. 

It’s not just about defense, however. Twin Attacks is an aggressive move used by these members of the squad. This enables a frontline party member to strike with one of their abilities, and a backline member to quickly respond with their own, entering the forefront as the other falls to the backline, a strategy that is very beneficial in boss confrontations. 

Both of these elements combine to create a fighting system that is highly straightforward, enjoyable, and quick, while also involving the whole party in each encounter.

A Well-Known Alchemical Method

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Surprisingly, there aren’t many changes to the alchemy system in Sophie 2 compared to the original game. This time around, it’s more simplified. The ability to set the elements for a recipe in a grid distinguishes the Sophie alchemy system from others such as Ryza. Each substance you bring in from the outside world takes up a specific number of grid blocks.

When making products, it’s critical to attempt to fit each piece of material into the grid without having them overlap. Overlapping implies you’ll miss out on any item perks that the prior content has to give.

This time, it’s really useful to have the ability to automatically position the materials on the grid. It speeds up the whole alchemy process by removing the need to manually arrange each component one at a time. It’s not ideal when you’re trying to maximize the potential of an item, but it’s wonderful if you’re wanting to fill up your recipe book quickly.

Sophie encounters a new Plachta in Erde Wiege, and she has her own alchemy pot, thus you may now synthesize products with any of them. There are certain things that only Sophie and Plachta can manufacture, and others that only Sophie and Plachta can make. It’s an intriguing notion that makes narrative sense, but it doesn’t really improve or detract from the overall alchemy experience.

Atelier Has a Bright Future

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In comparison to the original game, the visuals in Atelier Sophie 2 are substantially superior, with fluid character models and animations striking out. Gust’s art style is one of my favorites, as I said in my review of Blue Reflection: Second Light. It’s no different here; the character portraits, major menus, and CGI pictures all have the same clear and clean 2D visual style as before.

While I do have a few quibbles, they are small. Koei Tecmo no longer provides English dubs for their games, particularly for niche series like Atelier. However, there is one in the previous Atelier Sophie game, so I was expecting Sophie 2 will feature one as well. Only the Japanese voice track is currently available. 

Christine Marie Cabanos, Sophie’s English voice in the first game, does an amazing job expressing the character’s lighthearted, pleasant, yet determined nature. She was unable to repeat her part in the sequel, which is a tremendous disappointment.

Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream also lacks a native PlayStation 5 version, which is odd given Atelier Ryza 2 had one last year. As a consequence, for this review, I used backward compatibility to play the PlayStation 4 version. The loading screens were a little longer than I would have wanted, particularly on the PS5, while transitions between places in Ryza 2 were nearly quick. Despite this, the game works smoothly on PS5 with no issues.

The Bottom Line in Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream Review

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Pros

  • Exploration and advancement are more simplified and obvious.
  • The turn-based battle is fast-paced and enjoyable.
  • The graphics and presentation have been much enhanced.

Cons

  • There isn’t an English dub voice track available.
  • On PS5, loading times are a little longer than planned.

Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream is a huge step forward from the first game. Borrowing exploration features from the Atelier games while maintaining its conventional turn-based fighting system is a wonderful way for it to separate out within the series. Furthermore, the conflicts are more complex than ever before. For veterans and newbies alike, Sophie Neuenmuller’s new experience is definitely worth it.

[Note: The copy of Atelier Sophie 2: Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream used for this review was supplied by Koei Tecmo.]
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