Alchemists of the Dusk Sea DX

Posted: May 24

Shallie is the third and final game of the Dusk trilogy, and is a decent but not fully satisfying conclusion to the story. After the introduction, where you meet both protagonists, you choose between one of the two girls whose nickname is Shallie. Shallistera (later Stera) and Shallotte (later Lotte). Like Escha & Logy, you get a good bit of difference in how the dialogue plays out, but unlike E&L, there is quite a big difference in some chapters. Chapters 1-4 are mostly completely different from one another, you can see some actions taken by the other protagonist in the background. You’ll merge stories together and aside from one part later, mostly experience the story together. There are still a few minor differences later as well. The supporting characters also differ in the early chapters.

This game does away with the time limit completely. Early on, you have a motivation meter which is increased by completing “life tasks” and decreased by any combat or gathering. It’s this game’s method for keeping you on track, but it can be mostly ignored. The only effect for having low motivation is reduced movement speed and gathers give fewer materials. Later on, motivation is locked at full and you can do whatever you wish without worry.

Crafting is good, but not quite as exploitable/optimizable as Escha & Logy’s crafting. In this one, items have a certain number of skill slots, and you can plug skills into them. Which skills are available are dependent on the elemental specs of the items in question. It makes sense and is not too tough to learn. Alchemy also goes up to level 99, rather than 50 like most of the rest of the Atelier games.

Exploration is also quite good. The early areas have a lot of “samey” terrain, with a few varied areas, while later regions have a lot more variety. The western region is succumbing hard to the Dusk, its even more visible than in Escha & Logy. Everything is drying up, plants are dying, and its overall getting to be a harsher place. One important change is that Shallie is the first game in the trilogy to give a freely rotating camera. It works well for the most part but I do sometimes miss the fixed camera of previous games. It makes it feel a bit less cinematic. One area where the free camera utterly fails is in some of the tight corridors of the ghost ship. The camera system doesn’t know what to do so it can get close to your character overhead and make it very difficult to navigate. I ended up mostly navigating by minimap in some parts of that area.

The ending sequences have a bit more of an epic feel, rather than the typical “cozy” feel that most Atelier games have. It’s nice, but the story fell apart a bit at the final area and it wasn’t the most satisfying conclusion. It was nice to bring together major characters from both previous games in the trilogy, many as party members.

Side stories weren’t as hard to trigger as in previous games, especially when compared to Ayesha. You’ll likely be able to get all of them just by doing a little extra exploration and combat.

Combat retains some positioning aspects from the previous games but barely makes any difference. Combat I feel is the best in the series. It is balanced around “Burst”, which is increased by doing attacks and decreased by getting hit and using actions while in burst. Burst mode triggers when you exceed 100%, and you do bonus damage while in burst mode. Later on, you’ll get field effects if you manage to trigger burst mode at certain points over 100%. These field effects are cast by your backline party members making your formation and who you switch in and out within combat. In burst mode, you can also use more than one support attack, and chains will let you do special attacks. Two later characters also get abilities that extend burst, so later in the game those two will always be in your party in any more difficult encounter. These are Ayesha’s Himmelschenk and Escha’s Tauzent Force skills. It’s an extremely fun system to use.

The game ends when you return to Stellard after beating the final boss, since there is no time limit to trigger the ending. Make sure to only defeat the final boss after all side quests are done.

Overall, Atelier Shallie is a good game but is not one to get without playing the other games in the series. While Ayesha or Escha & Logy can be played as independent titles, Shallie has too much tie in to previous titles to make a lot of sense as a standalone title. This is also a game you will need to play twice (NG+ exists), as you get quite a different experience between the two protagonists paths.

In addition, this is the game that started to add in a lot more fanservice, with Lotte’s character design, swimsuit scenes, and a few other aspects. It’s not yet over the top but is unnecessary. It can be ignored if you don’t wish to partake. The rest of the game is enjoyable enough.

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