Atelier Marie was the first game in Koei Tecmo’s Atelier series and was released all the way back in 1997 on the original PlayStation before getting ported a bunch of times. However, it was never officially released outside of Japan, despite how many years the series has received English releases. This is changing with Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salsburg, which launches across major platforms in a couple of months. I got to check out the game early, so let’s take a look at what fans can expect.
Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg is very different from the original release. Older Atelier games had time limits where the main story needed to be wrapped up before a certain point. That’s still here, but it’s surprisingly totally optional. When you begin the game, you’re asked if you’d prefer to stick to the time limit or go with unlimited time, which lets you play the game to your heart’s content, regardless of how long it takes you. The time limit is completely baked into the game’s narrative, however.
“Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg is very different from the original release.”
You play as a young woman named Marlone (Marie is a nickname) who’s studying to be an alchemist. Unfortunately for her, she’s got the lowest score at her school, and she’s been given five years to make an item that her teacher finds acceptable. Otherwise, she’ll fail. Yes, that sounds insanely lenient to me as well. While the original game was completely in 2D, Atelier Marie Remake is fully rendered in 3D. In a move that I dislike, it’s presented from an isometric perspective instead of adopting the free third-person camera that modern games in the series utilize.
While much of the original game’s world was handled with still screens and menus, the town and the game’s exploration fields are available for you to move around in. Some artifacts of the original game’s systems are still intact in Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg. For instance, each time Marie enters her atelier (basically an alchemist’s lab), a day passes. Creating items also causes multiple days to pass. Moving to exploration fields then uses even more days on top of that.
“Atelier Marie Remake’s presentation certainly works to differentiate it.”
Another main difference is that additional party members don’t just join up with Marie and need to be hired at the cost of a specific number of coins daily. Multiple adventurers can be hired immediately and then taken out to help you fight monsters. Combat is a standard turn-based affair with few surprises. Marie can take 40 items from the fields back to her atelier, which she can then use to create new items. It can’t help but feel somewhat archaic, but it’s also quite interesting to see classic series functions in a newly made title.
If you’ve played other games in the Atelier series, things will feel very familiar regardless. Marie can take on orders at the tavern and then deliver requested items for cash. She can also sell specific items that rotate every 10 days. The camera can’t be controlled beyond zooming in and out which, again, feels like a curious choice. I can’t help but feel the game would have benefitted from sticking closely to the presentation of recent entries, but Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg‘s presentation certainly works to differentiate it. There are two other Alchemist of Salsburg games, so perhaps those will also be remade if this one does well.
Atelier Marie Remake is a charming alchemy adventure that scratches a different itch compared to current games, but any fans that have longed for a return to form will likely appreciate what it offers. The addition of an unlimited time option (which can’t be changed once you start a game) will no doubt keep recent fans from running, so we’ll have to see how the whole game shapes up when it releases in July.