Atelier Ryza 3 is shaping up to be a great entry in the series | Hands-on preview

by on February 22, 2023

After a hell of a long absence, I began playing the Atelier series again recently starting with Atelier Ryza 2. I was immediately hooked back into the colourful world of alchemy and monsters, and a lot of that is due to Ryza herself. As far as I’m concerned she’s easily the best protagonist the series has ever seen, with her bubbly attitude and a great supporting cast of friends accompanying her. I was really excited to see how her story continued in Atelier Ryza 3: The Alchemist of the End and the Secret Key, and based on early impressions I was right to be.

Our lovely heroine Ryza begins the game back home on Kurken island after all her previous adventures, but life in her hometown isn’t the same as it used to be. The inexperienced and immature alchemist from the start of the series is no more, and the island community have come to rely on Ryza’s powers. When her good friends Tao and Bos come to visit from the city, they joke that spending the summer with Ryza means they’ll end up on yet another globe-trotting adventure. Obviously they’re spot on.

The issue this time around seems to revolve around a series of islands that have mysteriously appeared in the ocean near Kurken. The party immediately suspect that some sort of powerful alchemy is to blame for this phenomenon, and call on some of their other adventuring pals to explore. I unfortunately can’t reveal what happens next, because the preview ended as we were about to head off on this bold new journey.

A screenshot of Atelier Ryza 3: The Alchemist of the End and the Secret Key

As long time fans might expect, your time in Atelier Ryza 3 will be split between fighting enemies, collecting materials and performing the alchemy the series is famous for. The handful of fights I got to take part in were a lot of fun, with the active battle system returning and evolving from the previous games. Each character can let out an impressive combo once their action meter fills, and once you’ve earned enough points to unleash special moves can hold down the shoulder button to chain those together too. All of this happens really fast, and if that’s not frantic enough for you there’s also the ability to switch between the entire party at the push of a button. It might take me a couple more hours to really understand a few of the systems going on in the background, but so far so good.

You can make yourself and your allies a more formidable force in battle using alchemy. Each character can be given items to use in battle (from bombs to healing vials) and you can also make new weapons and armour for everyone too. It’s not as simple as finding items and mixing them in a cauldron though, not in this series.

Any item you wish to create requires specific types of materials, which you place on different nodes that represent the recipe you’re following. The first few nodes usually just want a certain type of ingredient (like a yellow flower or a piece of ore) but once you’ve selected enough ingredients you’ll unlock more nodes that provide the finished products with different buffs and boost their quality. Maybe you want to make a sword that deals extra damage to raptor enemies, or to create a potion that sells for more cash at the market. It’s admittedly a pretty complex system to wrap your head around (and one with plenty of autofill options if you’d rather stick to the fighting) but once you understand the intricacies it’s really rewarding.

A screenshot of Atelier Ryza 3: The Alchemist of the End and the Secret Key

You can’t do much alchemy if you don’t have the ingredients though, which means you’d better get used to going gathering. Ingredients are everywhere in the world of Atelier Ryza 3, from plants and fruit in the forest to buckets of fresh water and scraps of paper in town. Every single ingredient you gather has different elements and attributes that’ll make them useful for your synthesizing needs, so you’ll want to fill your bag with a whole bunch of them. As you progress through the game different gathering methods look to become available, and in my limited time playing I made Ryza an axe so I could effectively gather different woods.

There’s plenty of new elements I’m excited to deep dive into when I get further into Ryza’s latest adventure, but the most noticeable change I found from this session was the movement speed of our heroine. With the run toggled on Ryza moves at a speed that’s almost too fast to keep up with, which means all your little gathering trips and quests take no time at all. Even picking up ingredients is quicker, with no lengthy animations to watch of you picking up items this time around. I can’t believe what a difference to the pace of the game it makes, and with a runtime I’d expect to be well above thirty hours I know I’ll really appreciate this speedy new side of our protagonist.

Atelier Ryza 3: The Alchemist of the End and the Secret Key is shaping up to be a great entry in this lovely JRPG series. The alchemy and combat is improved from the already wonderful previous game, and the pace of the game is just incredible. I can’t wait to get stuck into more of this adventure, and suspect this could be a high point in a great year for RPG fans.

Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key is coming to PS4, PS5, Switch, and PC on March 24th, 2023.