Today’s Screenie – Gust’s True Magic

Careful Arnice or you’ll wake the cupcake too (Nights of Azure)

At the end of November Koei Tecmo America announced that Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey was realising on Playstation systems in Spring 2017. At the same time, the trailer to accompany this news also teased a Steam release. An Atelier game finally coming to Steam was great news to hear.

The only thing that bothered me about this was that Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey is the second game in the Mysterious arc. I’ve never been a fan of games jumping to new systems part-way through their series. As such the absence of Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book left me rather vexed.

That changed last week when it was then announced that more of Gust’s games were also headed to Steam. This time in the form of Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book and the unrelated Nights of Azure. Better, a firm release date of February 7 for both titles was also announced. This news leaves me hoping for two more things.

First, that other Gust titles, included older ones, will also see their way to Steam. I’d particularly love to see Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland find its way to the platform. After all, it’s already on Playstation 3, Vita, and even the 3DS. A Steam release now seems like the natural next step, if the Mysterious arc games prove successful.

Second, that Japan is not excluded from this opportunity to reach a new audience. Given the large aversion to supporting the platform by many Japanese publishers in their own country, these titles being regionally restricted is an all too real concern. I truly hope that Koei Tecmo Japan will not make the mistake of refusing to sell these games to the growing Japanese Steam audience.

My fondness for Gust developed games, and subsequent joy over their upcoming Steam releases, may seem odd. After all, Gust are not exactly known for being brilliant developers. Their initial Japanese releases are often plagued with issues. Just recently, Nights of Azure’s scheduled December 22 release was postponed until sometime around February next year.

Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey’s release was also delayed and then subsequently released with a slew of issues; it’s currently up to its fifth patch. However, where Gust may lack technical expertise (or at least decent time management skills), they more than compensate in another area which is just as important: characterisation.

Creating characters that players can not only relate to, but also care for is something that Gust have grown very good at. In the Atelier games, for example, it’s hard not to immediately fall in love with the lead cast. Perhaps a result of the abundance of happiness they tend to exude. Rorona, when faced with harsh deadlines, still gives it her all without despairing (too much!) and she strives to save her workshop.

There’s also no denying that Gust’s primary focus on providing cute female leads also helps with endearing players to their games. But the male support characters are just as well thought out. Simon, Lloyd, and Alucard, are not just present in Nights of Azure as quest givers and merchants, nor are they only there for comedy relief. Each have several facets of their character explored as the game progresses.

With every new Gust game that is released, I always look forward most to spending time with the cast. More so than with any other element of the game. As Nights of Azure taught me, I’ll never know which character will ultimately shine for the most. In Nights of Azure, it was without a doubt, the cupcakes.

The use of cupcakes to help portray Lillysse’s feelings for Arnice, ultimately resulted in the cupcakes taking on a life of their own. They became another character in the story; ever present but without a voice of their own. While I was naturally engaged in discovering what happens to Arnice and Lillysse, I also came to be invested in the fate of the cupcakes too.

Gust’s ability to turn an inanimate object into a main character sums up why I am happy that Gust are now choosing to bring their games to a new audience via Steam. People who have never been able to play a Gust game before, will finally have the chance to experience some truly wonderful characters. February has never felt so far away!

Screenshots are direct grabs taken from the Playstation 4 version via AVerMedia RECentral. There are no in game settings for quality to change. They have not been altered or modified.

Nights of Azure was obtained as a review copy courtesy of One PR Studio and Koei Tecmo.