Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings is a turn-based role-playing game. The teenage twins Lydie and Suelle gather items from the worlds and monsters inside of paintings, striving to become the best alchemists in the Kingdom of Adalet.
Pro Creative concept of entering paintings to explore new worlds
The many fantasy-like worlds you explore through the mysterious paintings are very pretty and whimsical. Going into the paintings themselves is fascinating since it's something you don't get to do in real life, and you get to learn more about Lydie and Suelle as you go along. Gathering resources and fighting monsters while surrounded by waterfalls and flowery forests helps keep the gameplay from getting too repetitive or stale. All of this adds a more magical feel to the game's more ordinary slice-of-life sections.
Pro Charming and colorful anime art style
The art style is has many bright colors and well-drawn characters. Everyone has all sorts of colorful hairstyles, eyes, and outfits like pink, blue, and crimson that aren't too over-the-top. Their eyes have cool swirls for pupils, their skin tones are radiant, and every character has a bright and lovely smile. This is a beautiful anime style that looks good in the 3D cel-shaded graphics and the 2D cutscenes with still art that are more like a visual novel.
Pro Slice-of-life story and gameplay that's relaxing and laid-back
There's a sweet simplicity to the story and gameplay that focuses more on everyday life. Playing as the two twins, Lydie and Suelle, you're mainly trying to make ends meet and become the best possible alchemists you can be. You pass the days at your own pace as you take on jobs from the townspeople, leading you to explore the worlds inside of paintings, gather materials, and craft those materials into items through alchemy. It's nice that this game lets you kick back and relax with a more low-stakes story and simplistic gameplay.
Pro Engaging gathering and crafting system with alchemy as the game's main focus
Atelier Lydie & Suelle focuses on gathering materials and synthesizing them into alchemy formulas as the main mechanics. You can lose yourself in the game for hours as you explore the fantasy-like levels, picking up resources from bushes, hacking away at trees, or mining them from rocks. You can take as long you want to gather the stuff you need before going back home to your alchemy lab, or your atelier.
The puzzle-like 4x4 crafting grid has a neat strategy in how you can make the most out of your ingredients. If you just put your ingredients wherever on the grid, you'll end up with a bad product. Arranging your ingredients together in certain ways on the grid boosts the end product's effects, like putting them near green squares to improve your product's healing effect, which improves the item's overall quality. Going for quality gives you more experience points to level up and more money from the jobs you take on.
Taking your time to gather the materials you need and synthesizing them into the best possible items pays off in the end.
Pro Solid turn-based combat that's welcoming to beginners
Atelier Lydie & Suelle's combat is simple enough for beginners who want to try out a turn-based JRPG. The interface is clean with basic commands for attacking and using skills, magic, and items. It's easy to get the hang of when to go on offense while your health is high, and when to switch to healing when your health starts to get low. The combat doesn't overwhelm you with complicated tutorials or mechanics, staying at a beginner's level with some room to grow down the line. This is a really good choice to start with if you want to get into turn-based combat before moving onto other games.
Con No English voices even though previous Atelier games included them
For some reason, Atelier Lydie & Suelle doesn't have an English dub and just has the original Japanese voices with English subtitles. There's nothing wrong with only having the Japanese option, but it's really weird considering the other Atelier games in the West have English voice acting. New players don't have much to worry about here unless you can't stand having to read subtitles. If you're a fan of the series and you're used to the English dub, you might be thrown off by the change.
Con You won't find a sprawling narrative here like in most RPGs
The stories in the Atelier games are more about everyday life mixed in with whimsical fantasy. This isn't the kind of RPG with the type of layered, rich story with dramatic twists and turns that you'd expect from the genre. If you want a heavier narrative with more to say, you won't get that with this game.
Con Graphics for environments aren't that great
The visuals for the environments don't hold up to how pretty the cel-shaded graphics are. The textures are low-quality with jaggies sticking out. It's not so bad on the PC version and the PlayStation 4; things are much more obvious on the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation Vita. There are also some invisible walls that cut you off in places like open arches leading to shops, making the maps feel a lot smaller. If you can handle limited maps with so-so graphics, then these problems aren't that big of a deal in the long run.
Con Not for people who hate repetitive busywork
If you can't stand doing the same things over and over again in games, then Atelier Lydie & Suelle probably isn't for you. The whole game is about exploring maps to gather materials and then crafting those materials into something useful through alchemy. There are some turn-based battles thrown in, but these more or less take a backseat to the alchemy mechanics. The heavy focus on gathering and crafting can end up feeling like busywork, turning the game into a drag for players who hate that kind of thing.