It’s sad to think about but the end of the Atelier Ryza series is here. Over the past few years, these have become some of my favorite games in the Atelier franchise after just two games and now the third and final entry is here. Koei Tecmo and developer GUST have delivered Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key and I got to step into Reisalin’s shoes one more time to deliver my review of the PlayStation 5 version.
Atelier Ryza 3 picks up one year after the end of the second game as we join up with Ryza who is still doing her duties as an alchemist back on her home island of Kurken. While life here is good, new journeys beckon when a group of mysterious islands and ruins suddenly appear which Ryza gets the urge to investigate. From here she gathers her friends up and heads off on a new adventure. Given that this is the third entry if you are jumping in at this point you are going to feel a bit lost. There is a recap but it doesn’t make up for all the character moments we’ve had with this group over the past couple games. As you explore the open world in this game, you’ll get many, many conversations with your friends like Lent, Klaudia, and Tao and they’ll frequently talk about how they’ve grown and things they experienced. Quite a few moments between them got to me emotionally knowing that this is the last time I’ll get to spend time with these characters. These moments hit harder too due to the excellent voice performances but once again are in Japanese only with no English dub option.
Exploring the world has seen some changes as the world is more of an actual open world now as opposed to the previous games that had zones that you traveled between. Getting around is fun too as you can use fast travel but also things like zip lines and rideable creatures in the environment. The only thing I would still like to see implemented to make getting around easier is a free climbing feature like what I use in Genshin Impact or The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Other things to do in the world include little side-missions that pop up that usually consist of killing some enemies or fetching an item but they are quick to complete and reward you so that makes it worth it. There are also more important side-missions related to the characters that you can do too. Gathering materials in the world is more seamless as you can quickly pick up whatever you need as you’re moving without having to get locked into slow pick-up animations. Those materials you gather can then be used to craft recipes or upgrade items through the Synthesis feature. Some helpful quality-of-life improvements have been made to this too that generally just make it easier to know what you need to craft something. You can get really into the weeds while crafting things or use the auto feature to help speed things along if you really don’t want to bother with it and just want to get back to the exploring and fighting.
Speaking of fighting the combat is once again fun to engage in with you being able to use six characters in total in fights. You have your main party of three and then you can have three more back-up characters to swap in if you want. Battles are turn-based and go off a meter that each character friend and foe wait to fill up to unleash their action. As you land attacks you earn Ability Points which can then be spent to use your skills and using skills gives you another type of point that can be spent on using items. There is also a new feature revolving Secret Keys that you can obtain that provide buffs while in battle or crafting. These keys also play a big part in the story but help to add even more variety to the other parts of the game. Reading this may sound a bit complicated but once you jump into battle, you’ll quickly get used to all of it.
Visually the Atelier Ryza series has never looked better with the third entry boasting some great artistic direction and animation work on PlayStation 5. The character models are more detailed than ever and have more lively body and facial animation which helps make them more believable. The world is colorful, lush, and varied and just screams out for you to explore it. Luckily that soundtrack is also fantastic to listen to as you explore said world with the music ratcheting up when you get into battles.
After spending several dozen hours in this world, I can say Atelier Ryza 3 is a fantastic send off for these characters. The world is more enjoyable to explore than ever, the alchemy systems are more refined and as deep as you want them to be, and the combat is satisfying even if it can be a bit daunting to learn at first. The story is memorable serving up many great character moments for this cast and while I’m sad to see it end I’ll be looking forward to what we see next from the Atelier franchise.
*Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key is available now on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC. PlayStation 5 version reviewed. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.
Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key$59.99
- Heartwarming story that wraps up the trilogy
- Beautiful art direction and animation work
- Huge world to explore with almost no loading
- Deep alchemy systems with some helpful improvements
- Fun turn-based combat with a lot of options
- Some combat systems take some learning
- Side-quest material could be better