In 2019’s Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout, we joined the up-and-coming alchemist Ryza as she explored the world of Kurken island with her friends. She returns in Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy, which is the first time a previous character returns as the main protagonist and the series’ PlayStation 5 debut. Let’s take a look at Ryza’s new adventure and its performance on the new hardware.
Three years after her original adventure, Ryza has left her home island on a new adventure. Her childhood friend Tao has hinted at some discoveries potentially related to alchemy. They reunite, and they meet with new and old party members to explore ancient ruins. These ruins contain mysteries and ethereal enigmas related to bygone eras. As the party pursues hints in ancient texts, Ryza still uses alchemy to bolster town development and address others’ requests. One may wonder how important it is to play the first game before playing Ryza 2. Players will still enjoy diving right into the sequel, but they will appreciate more of the dialogue if they have played the first. Characters mention former companions, and they also tease each other based on their history. Some crack jokes at Ryza’s expense, given her past tendency to shirk work. These references are relatively minor, but they result in a deeper appreciation of these characters’ growth and are worth a chuckle here and there.
As with previous Atelier games, Ryza 2 fundamentally involves fulfilling objectives to progress the story. Oftentimes these involve reaching a designated location, defeating a specific enemy, or fulfilling a request with alchemy. The game’s overall cycle still involves traveling, obtaining materials through exploration or combat, and going back to the workshop to craft support and battle items. Ryza 2 makes it easier than ever to see what materials spawn from each gathering node, which is much appreciated. Per the game’s Lost Legends subtitle, players will now explore ruins and piece together hints. Specific points of the game resemble a “hot and cold” experience. As players walk around, they will hear pings as they approach spiritual fragments. Players slot these fragments into missing blanks to learn more about the past, and doing so will progress the story and bolster Ryza’s alchemy. Sometimes these fragments can take a while to find, and players may stumble around for a while. However, this new adventure-like twist on the Atelier formula is an interesting addition nonetheless.
The game’s combat resembles the first Ryza title’s in many ways, but it flows more quickly with even more action. Most Atelier combat systems are turn-based, but Ryza 2’s combat takes place in real-time. Players control one character while the other active members are computer-controlled. Regular attacks boost action points that can be used for skills, and Ryza 2 has added the ability to chain skills back-to-back for even more thrills and damage. This builds points that lead to opportunities to use items, and the flow of attacking, then using skills, and then using items feels pretty solid. Just like in the first game, everyone can use items in combat. Each character has four slots, and item management has never been easier in an Atelier game. Compared to the first game, the UI has been rearranged and revised for better readability. With all of the visual stimuli, it can still be a little daunting to understand what’s going on, but the overall refinements lead to a more pleasant experience.
Alchemy largely has the same node-based structure as the first game, too. Many Atelier games involve reading books to get recipes en masse, but Ryza 2 introduces a brand new Skill Tree system that lets players learn specific recipes at their own pace. This system is fulfilling compared to earlier unlock systems. It visually shows progress and allows players to prioritize certain recipe unlocks according to their playstyle. It seems a tad strange that Ryza is an experienced alchemist who needs to “re-learn” recipes. Still, this system is enthralling nonetheless as it gives players agency without being too overwhelming.
Atelier Ryza 2 is once again a fantastic looking game, and it epitomizes the series’ visual evolution over the past decade. The Arland sub-series propelled Atelier to 3D, the Dusk trilogy provided lusher worlds, and the Mysterious trilogy introduced a variety of effects and day/night cycles. Ryza 2 showcases dynamically lit environments, and there are also some pretty captivating reflections this time around. Players can also now swim, climb, and swing. While these actions are relatively simple, they diversify area traversal in an enthralling way. The character models are vibrant and well made, but series veterans will most likely recognize some familiar poses and expressions. Photo mode is also available right from the start, allowing players to tweak poses and day/night settings for that perfect shot. Audio-wise, the game once again provides some wonderful tunes. The game’s soundtrack supplements the journey energetically. The upbeat main battle track is quite catchy and encompasses an eclectic blend of instruments, and the exploration areas play all sorts of sweeping relaxing songs. The time of day also affects the song too. Ryza 2’s voices are once again Japanese-only, and Ryza herself is as chirpy as always. The other performances are appropriate, especially given that three years have passed in-game and certain characters have aged a bit.
As mentioned before, this is the first Atelier game released on the PlayStation 5. The PS5 version is a free upgrade that provides a slightly boosted experience compared to the PS4 version. Whereas the PS4 version is locked at 30 frames a second, the PS5 framerate feels uncapped. Depending on the location, the game’s framerate seemingly hovers in the 40s to 50s. Having a more consistent framerate on the PS5 would have been appreciated, but it’s still a noticeable boost. Fast traveling from area to area instantly with no load screens is quite handy as well.
Just like in the first game, the pacing can seem a bit strange at first. Players once again still travel entirely by foot for the first few hours before obtaining the ability to fast travel and access the world map. These initial hours can feel a little disorienting as players figure out how areas connect, and there is not really an easy way to see how everything links together. The adventure-like sections also seem a bit disjointed from the rest of the game, and the process of tracking down some of the ruin fragments and filling in the blanks can feel a bit arbitrary. Furthermore, the story takes a while to gain momentum, and its appeal hinges upon players’ interest in exploring ruins.
All in all, Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy is a substantial sequel that refines existing systems with some meaningful tweaks. Anyone who enjoyed the first game will most likely enjoy joining Ryza’s adventure once again, and it can easily take more than thirty or so hours to complete. For anyone new to the Atelier series, there’s never been a better time to jump in. With plenty of exploration opportunities, fun character interactions, enthralling music, and captivating environments, Atelier Ryza 2 demonstrates why the series has been so beloved over the years.
Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy Review
Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy Review
Atelier Ryza 2 is a beautiful role-playing title that refines the first Ryza game’s mechanics. The world is well crafted, and the new movement, battle, and exploration mechanics are a joy to experience.
New traversal mechanics are entertaining and diversify exploration
New Skill Tree unlock system gives players control
Visual effects and soundtrack are astounding
Tweaks the first game’s combat, alchemy, and explorations in meaningful ways
Performance boosts on PS5 are inconsistent
Adventure-like mechanics can seem a tad disjointed from the rest of the experience