Recently, I finally got my hands on the newest Ryza game, Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key, and it’s safe to say I’m not disappointed and I’ve barely scratched the surface. Upon starting Atelier Ryza 3, similar to the prequels, I’m greeted with a movie cutscene introducing all the characters. There’s a few new additions into the roster with what looks to be a few more fighters and some more magic users.
The tone of the game is pretty much the same as the others from the get-go as well. It’s just a light-hearted adventure with friends and family investigating ruins, fighting monsters, and discovering the secrets of the world they live in. How does the third entry in this beloved alchemy sub-series stand up? Find out in our Atelier Ryza 3 review!
Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & The Secret Key
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Platforms: Ps4, Ps5, Steam, Nintendo Switch (reviewed on Switch)
Release Date: March 23, 2023
The story takes place in Ryza’s childhood island home of Kurken Island. In the previous Atelier Ryza installment, we saw her in the capital city of the mainland in her world, and after the events of Ryza 2 wrapped up, she hopped on a boat and went back home to take it easy for awhile. The story for Atelier Ryza 3 takes place a year or so after the ending of the second game.
Upon diving into Atelier Ryza 3, we’re immediately met with a battle with some enemies and are thrown into the fold to learn about the basics of combat. You’re walked through a brief tutorial regarding the battle system, which is really easy to pick up and master quickly.
Especially in its polished form in this 3rd installment of the Atelier Ryza series. The battle is pretty easy to get through, but if you’re a veteran of the series, you can skip it altogether. Fair warning, the game does have a lot of tutorials that pop up as you progress, since it does have a lot of moving parts from exploration, to battles, gathering, and alchemy.
The story starts out with Ryza and her childhood friends Bos and Tao helping her investigate strange floating islands that popped up near their island. The islands also seem to be affecting the magical device underneath the ground that keeps Ryza’s island from sinking into the ocean. The strange islands seem to be causing earthquakes all over her homeland and has the citizenry worried.
The decision to investigate it further is cemented when Ryza sends out multiple letters to some old allies. Klaudia and Lent from previous journeys soon join the party while everyone prepares to explore the disturbances.
Others also join later as Atelier Ryza 3 progress. Eventually your party grows to a max of 8 characters that you can interchange with and play as during battles, if you choose to. Don’t be afraid to play with the controls to take advantage of each of them!
The battle system for Atelier Ryza 3 when compared to previous titles plays a lot tighter and seems to be more polished. Combat action is faster, combos are fun to chain together, and all the above can be remixed to your preference to deal max damage.
One gripe I do have however, is that when things get going, there’s a LOT going on which makes it tough to keep up sometimes. I ended up mashing buttons to chain magic hits, and juggle attacks. Your comrades do however have specific sound bytes where they’ll either request a magic attack, physical attack, or a healing item, which help temper the pace.
Sensory overload can be an issue, but any good real-time battle JRPG like this is a given if you’re familiar with them. I’m reminded of the old starocean games, which were my first exposure to a more action/real time focused JRPG battle system, so I picked it up easily enough.
The trick to smooth combat is just getting used to using more than one button to attack with. Combos mostly involve the X, Y, A buttons, left bumper, and right bumper. You can also switch hit in party members to chain together attacks by utilizing the left bumper while waiting for your turn and tag them in.
The system itself is your traditional ATB (Active-time-battle) type system found in a lot of JRPG’s these days. I grew up on turn-based JRPG’s personally, but the grind from that is a chore now that I’m older, unfortunately.
I just wanna play the game and not have to grind for awhile to get past a boss that I’m stuck on. Ryza 3 is no pushover, however, and won’t hand you victory on a platter. Stay on your toes, and have fun, and you’ll be fine!
Another aspect of Atelier Ryza 3 that has been carried over from previous titles in the franchise is of course the removal of MP (magic points), which are replaced with magical items. Ryza makes these magical items inside her atelier from her big ol’ alchemy pot.
The items indeed do replace the need for MP to cast spells and seem infinite at first. Using them in fights are open ended, as long as you keep the Ability points and Tactical points up during battles.
Using the healing items, however, are a finite resource inside and outside of battles, so returning to the workshop is a necessity on longer expeditions. While the concept of creating a bomb out of thin air that you can chuck at enemies seems absurd, that’s the rub with this series.
It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and just focuses on fun and cute characters, with long-lasting friendships. Oh and exploring – lots of exploring!
The items you can make from Ryza’s atelier pot also have stat buffs, and sometimes detriments depending on the finished product’s quality.
Early on in the game after getting your bearings and investigating the strange islands that popped up, Ryza has an alchemy recipe pop into her head via a disembodied voice after the initial investigation and opening battle.
This ends up with her creating a mysterious key with a jewel embedded into it. Those keys in fact replicate and are integrated into the game all the way from exploration, to more stat buffs, battle commands, alchemy, and item gathering.
Gameplay is a lot tighter as well, not only in the battle system but in exploration, mission progression, and sidequest acquisitions. Instead of a central hub area to get missions, they naturally happen now as you walk around the world and move forward into the story.
For me personally this is great because the previous games can be quite the slog far as sidequests go. Previously you could only have a limited amount of them ongoing, and have to keep returning to turn them in, and get more loot.
The previous games’ gather, wash, rinse, and repeat cycle can get cumbersome after awhile. This is especially true if you’re trying to find that one missing item for that one recipe that keeps eluding you. So far I haven’t really gotten stuck yet while playing through the game.
But my style is to be a packrat and pick up every new item and/or alchemy resource I find. My ADHD works great for that, too. (oh, something shiny over there! *yoink*), so odds are I’m just nabbing up everything I need as I go, I hope so anyway.
Graphicwise, Ryza 3: Alchemist Of The End & The Secret Key looks very polished, and I haven’t ran across any graphical bugs yet on my Switch. The scenery is comfortable, cute, and relaxing.
The enemies along with the characters themselves are all well-designed and quite cute, too. There’s multiple animals across the world that you can interact with.
The animals range from dolphins that’ll let you ride their backs and zoom across the water, to dogs that you can actually pet! The animals sometimes will give you items and sidequests too, so don’t be afraid to pat them!
Music-wise, I was treated to whimsical tunes that change for each area obviously, but the tone changes from daytime to night-time as well.
The daytime background theme music is more upbeat and ”let’s go and get it done” type energy in most places, whereas the night music is more subdued and chill-out style.
The battle music and boss music meshes well, and surprisingly isn’t annoying to listen to. I don’t find myself wanting to turn its volume down like in some games I’ve played over the years.
So in closing, Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & The Secret Key is a wonderful addition to an enjoyable franchise. The characters are fleshed out nicely and fully developed with long-lasting and strong relationships.
Even though they are anime characters in an anime-themed game, they all exude a ”human element” that just makes me want to root for them all to be happy and successful on all their adventures and in their endeavors.
You don’t even really have to play any of the previous titles either (you should though) as the game has a ”prologue movie mode” on the home screen that gets you up to speed and in the fold with us. See you soon at the alchemy pots, friends!
Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key was reviewed on Switch using a copy provided by Koei Tecmo. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. Atelier Ryza 3 is set to launch on March 23rd in Japan and March 24th worldwide for Windows PC (via Steam), Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5.