Game review: Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg (PS5)
Sometimes remasters and remakes can be redundant because they may look and play exactly as the original release. Other times, remakes can even be worse than the original release, like with 2012’s Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD remake and the Silent Hill 2 HD collection on PS3.
However, there are several remakes and remasters that improve on the original game. Some of my favorite remakes of all time have been Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, as well as the proper release of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2.
Koei Tecmo is jumping onto the remake bandwagon with this year’s release of Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg. Many people may not have played the 1997 PSOne original because the game was released only in Japan. Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg is quite possibly the first time many people get a chance to play this cute-looking JRPG.
The original game may have been released for the PSOne, but it didn’t adopt any 3D graphics like Square Enix’s Final Fantasy VII from the same release year. Atelier Marie: The Alchemist of Salburg was instead a 2D game that looked more like it should have been a release for the Super Nintendo.
Although I haven’t played the original game, I’ve seen clips on YouTube, and the 2D style looks cute and innocent. The style of the game reminds me of other early ‘90s RPGs such as Final Fantasy VI or even Chrono Trigger.
For the 2023 remake, Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg has been overhauled for new hardware. This remake has been fully overhauled for modern audiences because the entire game is now rendered in full 3D. Honesty, I miss the 2D charm of the original, but the modern graphics still look good on a PS5.
That being said, all of the character models retain their cute chibi-chibi style look from the original game. The levels are also much larger and more detailed compared to their appearance from the 1997 version.
Developer Gust has also added anime-style illustrations when the characters are talking and having conversations. The new anime designs look great compared to the basic illustrations that were used nearly 30 years ago.
Another new change that this game has made is remastered music. The new music overall sounds really good, but you can change to the original soundtrack for nostalgia reasons too. I do like how the developer gives you options to choose between the two different kinds of music.
In terms of the game itself, players will assume the role of a young girl named Marie from the Royal Academy of Magic. Marie is falling behind in her studies in alchemy, but she has one chance to finally graduate. A professor tells Marie that she has five years to conjure an item. If Marie impresses the professor with this item, she can finally graduate!
The five-year time limit is important because you cannot get a good ending if you fail to impress the professor. Many activities that you do take many in-game days to complete, so you have to make sure every action you take is necessary.
If you don’t like the sound of a time limit, you can choose the all-new Unlimited Mode. This throws away the time limit and allows you to play the game beyond the five years she’s required to graduate. Both modes are fun, and the game will last you several hours before you can complete it.
Since this game was made in the ‘90s, the combat system is turn-based. This means you have to take turns with the AI before you’re able to attack again. Turn-based combat also means you cannot dodge attacks because your characters usually have to stand and bear the brunt of offense.
The combat is overall simple but fun. Each character can attack using the circle button, or they can use their special moves to cause more damage. The game also thankfully does not consist of random battles as you can initiate combat by touching enemies in the several dungeons that are included here.
While most of this game is enjoyable, I did not always have a fun experience with it. First of all, the quests in this game can get repetitive. Most of the quests require you to collect a certain number of items in the dungeons outside the city.
Collecting tons of the same items gets boring, and some of the quests also repeat themselves too. Not to mention the dungeons in this game are very small and aren’t very fun to explore due to their size. I would have liked it if the dungeons were larger and more engaging.
Another thing JRPG veterans might not like about this game is its short length. Due to the five-year time limit, you can easily finish this game in around five to ten hours. This is far shorter than the 40 hours or more you can get from a Final Fantasy game.
Overall, Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg is a fine remake that features better graphics and modern–style controls. The only thing that holds the game down, though, is its repetitive quest structure and short length.