After Ryza hit the scene and really made a historic impact for Atelier, Gust was more than happy to start dipping back into direct sequels. Ryza 2 was an obvious and easy follow-up, but I was a little surprised to see Sophie up to bat next. That said, Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream is a natural evolution of what the first Sophie game was, and uses its laid-back reputation to its benefit.
Atelier Sophie 2 Preview
Atelier Sophie was the first of Gust’s “Mysterious” trilogy, which was sort of an injection of happy and chill vibes to follow the slightly darker “Dusk” trilogy. Sophie barely even had an antagonist or conflict-driven story, focusing more on just having a good time with Sophie and her… talking book friend. Those chill vibes continue in Sophie 2, with the premise being she and Plachta (now a talking combat doll) simply going on an aimless adventure.
That adventure gets weird of course, and the pair get sucked into an alternate world in which nobody ages and has as much time as they want to perfect their passions or skills. No longer in the “real” world, this premise lets Sophie 2 get a little weird when it wants to, without dramatically changing the “Mysterious” world itself. It’s also conducive to the game’s early chill, low stakes vibe.
We also see that vibe continue in combat, which was probably the biggest surprise to me. With the past two Atelier Ryza adventures building a more action-like combat system, Sophie 2’s jump back to pure turn-based battles was odd. But after playing through the first Sophie joint recently, seeing the way it connects to that game’s specific systems and takes them to the modern JRPG stage is really, impressively thoughtful.
Alchemy, you can safely assume, also calls back to the previous game. The systems here look familiar, but have changed quite a lot in terms of function and user-friendliness. In the first game, you dropped ingredients into a box tangrams style, and had to maneuver around creating and dissolving bonuses. You’re still playing with shapes here, but the bonus chasing is much less fumbly and complicated, using placement and connections instead of the more adversarial system from before.
Being a preview, I didn’t get to dive too deep into Atelier Sophie 2, so these impressions are based on just a few hours of play. There’s a lot more to this game, including weird little roulette minigames in gathering spots and mechanics I can’t talk about yet that take advantage of this game’s otherworldly setting. Keep an eye out for our review, somewhere between now and when Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream drops on February 24, 2022.