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[Review] Nelke & the Legendary Alchemists ~Ateliers of the New World~ – Nintendo Switch

Reviewed by Thomas

  • Developer: Gust Co. Ltd.
  • Publisher: KOEI TECMO
  • Release Date: 26/03/2019
  • Price: $59.99 / £49.99
  • Review code provided by Koei Tecmo

Intro

When I first heard about Nelke & the Legendary Alchemists I was excited to see what was in store. As this is the 20th anniversary title for the Atelier series Gust added a town building element. My assumption was this entry would be like other Atelier games which made the series a staple among JRPG fans. I expected the game to be more or less the same with a sprinkle of town building added to the mix. I couldn’t have been more wrong, and that’s not a bad thing. Read on to see what makes Nelke’s adventure a unique entry in the Atelier series.

Home is Where Our Story Begins

Nelke Von Lestamm takes on the daunting task of turning a small village into a bustling town. This young aristocrat has no alchemical talent but graduated top of her class and is appointed as Westwald’s administrator. She has an ulterior motive for undertaking such a grand project. Her childhood friend has gone missing and she thinks she can locate a Sage Relic in the vicinity. She believes this relic will help her track down her friend. When she begins her endeavor she realizes she’ll need the assistance of skilled laborers, specifically alchemists. The story is fun and does a great job introducing new characters. Nelke and the Legendary Alchemists really shines is when familiar faces start to show up. Characters from past games mysteriously appear in town as the game progresses. Watching their interactions and seeing how they respond to new challenges is exciting. As you control Nelke, in a sense, you decide which characters to befriend. The more time you spend with someone, the deeper their bonds grow. That in turn unlocks more dialogue and story scenes. Growing relationships in the land of Westwald is as important as growing the town itself.

Home Sweet Home

Nelke and the Legendary Alchemists is more Simulator with heavy focus on town building management with a tiny bit of JRPG sprinkled on the side. In Ateliers of the New World, you step into the shoes of Nelke. You don’t control her like traditional Atelier games. Instead of direct control over your avatar, you oversee the construction of the town by assigning various tasks. There are a few main building types you use to expand Westwald. Building ateliers allow the alchemists to craft a variety of items determined by you. The various stores you construct are delegated to sell the crafted items. You’ll assign residents to gather raw resources by growing them or dispatching them on expeditions.

Home on the Range

The game is divided into two parts. Weekdays and Holidays. The start of each week you assign which buildings are to be constructed and what each store will sell or produce. Once the minutia is determined, your friends set about their tasks until the weekend, or holiday. During the holiday you are given a limited amount of time to spend. You can use your time to chat with residents and build relationships or explore the world in search for new ingredients. There is also a research option which is used to further the game. You can take on side-quests, so to speak, by offering to help your new friends. These jobs can range from selling a set amount of items to defeating a specific enemy. When Nelke explores her surrounding environments, movement is automated. With a party of five, the characters move on their own from left to right. You can alter the speed at which the party travels, but little else. Encounters are random and classic turn-based combat ensues. The combat is simple and rarely poses a challenge. These expeditions lead to new items implemented in crafting. Managing Westwald isn’t a simple stroll down the street. Successful management requires balance and planning to ensure smooth operation. If you’re not careful, you can run out of ingredients needed to complete required jobs which come with time limits.

Home is Where the Heart Is

Anyone who’s played an Atelier game will feel right at home in Westwald with familiar graphics and sounds. As each week passed, key players from older entries join the town. The dialogue is voiced in Japanese and each character has their own personality. The voice actors did a tremendous job bringing life to the large cast. Coupled with a vibrant world full of color and sound, it was a town I was happy to settle and call home. From a technical aspect Nelke & the Legendary Alchemists ran smoothly and without issue. I had one save hiccup which I chalked up to user error. Whether docked or in handheld mode, it looked and ran beautifully.

Final Wrap

I was surprised at the level of depth Ateliers of the New World offered for a town building simulator. Though it strayed from the roots of a traditional Atelier JRPG, I couldn’t have been more happy with the outcome. This was a fantastic entry in the Atelier universe and perfect for the 20th anniversary. Players new and old will appreciate the world you can create and play in. My only gripe is the fact you can’t actually walk around your town to bask in its ever growing glory. Through the in depth dialogue, new players to the Atelier series can quickly get to know famous faces from past games. I haven’t played every Atelier game and I found new favorite alchemists thanks to the cordial introduction from Nelke.

Pros

  • Familiar Friends
  • Engaging Town Management
  • Memorable Interactions

Cons

  • Limited Town View
  • Simplistic Combat

Verdict
Nelke and the Legendary Alchemists offers an amazing home which every town building enthusiast should settle in.
4.5/5

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