Atelier Ryza 3 Exemplifies Practice Makes Perfect | Preview

We have to go back to The Island!!!

Ryza and her crew of ride or die lifemates are back once again, this time for a reunion back where everything started. As you follow the winding paths through locations longtime players visited before, flashbacks drive home just how far this series, and developer Gust, have come. Once firmly in super niche territory, Ryza’s success can be felt here in spades, presenting a new Atelier game that is bigger, bolder and more beautiful than any previous title.

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Atelier Ryza 3 Preview

I was granted a chance to get my hands on Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key over a month ahead of its March 24, 2023 launch. That comes with the usual caveats, but I haven’t noticed a single blemish after a solid handful of hours. Even just compared to previous Ryza games, this is a sequel full of refinements, improvements, and flourishes that all melt together into something familiar, but surprising at the same time. I hate to gush, but even just playing a little Ryza 2 again for a refresher, the difference is tangible. This build did make my computer pretty loud though, and my Steam Deck said “please, no more, it hurts.” But that’s not surprising at this point in time, so keep that in mind.

Refinement and iteration is a huge part of what makes Ryza 3 so impressive, which is something that’ll be lost on newcomers. Of course that’s the kind of thing that’ll help said newcomers have a good time, but I feel like returning Atelier Heads will be over the moon with this game. Even just the little things, like the UI showing remaining basket space and the Just So added complexity in alchemy go a long way to show the benefits of making videogame sequels in general. The real muscle though shows up with the game’s world, which isn’t an overbloated “open world,” but a series of connected spaces and fast travel landmarks that make the spaces you navigate feel more real. To that point, the opening hours of Ryza 3 are basically a hike through the first game’s locations showing off the seamless paths that previously didn’t exist.

Returning to Kurken Island isn’t just a gimmick to show off Ryza 3’s big budget. It’s also the introduction of a compelling story hook that brings the first game’s mystery back to the forefront. Ryza 2’s plot feels more isolated in retrospect, but it also provides a sense of gravity to why the gang is back together again, and makes looking at this trilogy as a whole feel like a journey with a distinguishable beginning, middle and end. I’m excited to see where it goes from there.

Combat seemed like it was going to rub me the wrong way at first, compared to everything else. It’s faster than the second game, and there’s so much going on it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. You have to make snap decisions with specific timing windows, while the camera and everyone on the board are flying around and causing a ruckus. But once it starts coming together, and you realize the mayhem is kinda the point, the vibes form this weird ironic chill I’ve come to appreciate.

Related: Atelier Ryza 3 Introduces Cooking and Custom Ateliers, Because Alchemy Wasn’t Complicated Enough

Also, it just feels great to continually make and remake dynamite you can use indefinitely, making Ryza’s atelier cauldron feel like a cutesy anime version of the Anarchist’s Cookbook. Ryza 3 is a great reminder that alchemy isn’t just for potions and fancy cooking; it’s also for DIY weapons of mass destruction. This girl’s idea of a wholesome adventure includes bombing giant weasels and I for one respect that kind of chaos.

Related: Atelier Sophie 2 Review: Alchemic Boogaloo

If it isn’t obvious by now, I’m a fan of where Atelier has headed in recent years and I’m all in on Atelier Ryza 3. This summer’s Atelier Marie Remake will be an intriguing venture into the history books for sure. But Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key is an almost shocking showcase of where Gust is at right now.

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Lucas White
Lucas plays a lot of videogames. Sometimes he enjoys one. His favs include Dragon Quest, SaGa and Mystery Dungeon. You can find him on Twitter @HokutoNoLucas. Wanna send an email? Shoot it to [email protected].