Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy Review
A solid JRPG carried by its crafting system.
The Atelier series has never been a huge success when it comes to sales, but the franchise has a very dedicated audience that continues to come back time and time again when a new game is released. 2019’s Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout was a breakout hit for the series, surpassing franchise sales records and becoming the first game in the series to spawn a direct sequel starring the same protagonist. Now that the sequel is finally here, will this be the one to break into the mainstream and finally bring the series to a wider audience? Unfortunately, Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy doesn’t do a whole lot to make itself stand out from the crowd, but it does enough to carve out a unique identity for itself.
If you’ve never played an Atelier game before, then Atelier Ryza 2 is a good jumping on point. Yes, it’s a direct sequel to the first Atelier Ryza game featuring the same protagonist, but the story is easy enough to follow as a newcomer. This was my first ever Atelier game, and I was able to follow along just fine.
The story follows Ryza, a young girl skilled in the art of alchemy. Following the events of the first game, she’s grown bored of daily life and hopes for a new adventure. After receiving a visitor asking her to investigate a strange stone, she sets off to the capital city of Ashra-am Baird to look into the mysterious stone’s properties and explore the ancient ruins surrounding the city. It’s a pretty standard setup for a JRPG, but it gets the job done. The story as a whole isn’t all that interesting, but Ryza and the supporting cast are well-written and make the experience much more enjoyable. There’s an infectious sense of optimism among Ryza and the party, and it’s basically impossible to not get wrapped up in the jolly vibes when you’re exploring the game’s vibrant environments and listening to its lighthearted soundtrack. You won’t be on the edge of your seat anticipating the next twists and turns of the main story, but Ryza and her friends are a fine group to get to know.
When you’re out in the field, you’re going to encounter enemies of all kinds, and Ryza’s combat system is surprisingly engaging. The game uses a realtime system where every character is placed on a timeline, getting to perform an action when their icon reaches the center. Each party member has special abilities that cost AP to use, which can be earned by performing standard attacks and well-timed blocks. Special abilities can be used on their own or in rapid succession on the same turn to deal massive damage.
It can be difficult to keep track of all of everyone’s turn order and AP totals, but your companions are AI-controlled for the most part. You can swap between characters at any time, or you can switch your party between aggressive and passive modes where they will either expend AP to perform special attacks or just use their standard attacks respectively. It can feel overwhelming at first, but learning to manage AP among your entire party while mixing in item usage and keeping enemy weaknesses in mind is satisfying.
The main draw of Atelier Ryza 2 is not its story or combat, however. The real meat of the game is its crafting system. Ryza is an alchemist, so you’re going to spend a lot of time gathering ingredients and then mixing them together to create new items. Everything you do in Atelier Ryza 2 ties back into the crafting system. Completing quests, exploring the wilderness, and grinding out battles are all done in service of the crafting system so you can stock up on supplies, and this helps to stop the feeling of going through the motions that many RPGs fall into. The crafting system itself is also fairly complex, going much deeper than just acquiring the correct ingredients and putting them together. For the sake of brevity, I won’t explain every last crafting mechanic the game has to offer, but just know it’s very easy to fall into the crafting rabbit hole and start ignoring the story to make new items and learn new recipes.
However, the game’s primary pitfall is exactly that. The crafting system is so alluring not just because of its depth, but also because of how bland everything surrounding it is. The world, while vibrant and colorful, is nothing we haven’t seen in dozens of other JRPGs at this point. Cities feel lifeless and empty with NPCs just standing around waiting for you to come by so they can give you a quest or share one or two lines of dialogue. The battle system is engaging, but it does start to get old after a few hours. The story doesn’t start to pick up steam until near the end, and even then, it doesn’t reach any particularly interesting highs. At the end of the day, Atelier Ryza 2 is a serviceable game with one standout feature.
While Atelier Ryza 2 doesn’t do much to stand out other than its in-depth crafting system, the core joys of the genre are here. If you like JRPGs, you could do much worse than this. It feels good to chill out in a colorful world, gathering crafting materials and maybe fighting the occasional slime or two. Overall, Atelier Ryza 2 is just okay. It doesn’t particularly excel at anything outside of its crafting system, but it’s not outright bad at anything either. If you’re dying for a new JRPG to sink your teeth into while you wait for some of the larger upcoming releases like Nier Replicant or Final Fantasy XVI, then Ryza is a fun distraction that doesn’t require a huge time investment.
Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy
- Available On: PC, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch
- Published By: Koei Tecmo
- Developed By: Gust Co. Ltd.
- Genre: JRPG
- US Release Date: January 26, 2021
- Reviewed On: PS5
- Quote: "While Atelier Ryza 2 doesn't do much to stand out other than its in-depth crafting system, the core joys of the genre are here. If you like JRPGs, you could do much worse than this."