Part 40: Atelier Totori: An Introduction
So let's talk about Atelier Totori for a bit, before I formally begin the game. First off, I'd like to make an apt comparison between the PS3 Ateliers and the Uncharted series (sure am making a lot of Sony franchise references, but it works). For the uninitiated, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune is a hell of a fun game. Fun, addictive gameplay, very nice visuals, and a plot that is more than a little in debt to Indiana Jones when it comes to its appeal. Damn fine game, but Uncharted 2 absolutely blows it out of the water. Longer story, more weapons, stunning, varied locales, and to top it all off, an online multiplayer with co-op or competitive game modes that is super fun and endlessly playable. Chip Cheezum was right on the money when he called it a "near-perfect game". You really can't get much better a game than Uncharted 2, and it's super cheap these days, anyway.
Point of all this is that Atelier Totori is to Atelier Rorona as Uncharted 2 is to Uncharted 1, and that is no exaggeration. Totori is such a categorical improvement to Rorona in most every way it's almost shocking. Aside from little user interface stuff here and there (for example, you can now hold down X to select items in your Container, instead of having to manually press X over and over again like a massive tool), the game benefits from a fantastic, highly appealing art style that Gust evidently has yet to surpass, given that Atelier Ayesha, two games down from Totori, is still using its art style. When it comes to the gameplay, it strikes a very percise balance between freedom and order. The game still gives you plenty of opportunity to do everything you want, while keeping you focused on the major goal of the game. Like Rorona, Totori gives you considerable ability to play how you want, and you have more than enough time in the game to do everything and still end up with around 6-8 months on the clock.
Of course, I'll be getting into more specifics as they come up in the LP, but suffice to say Totori is definitely one of the best RPGs on the PS3. Whether or not Meruru is a step forward or backward is rather irrelevant. If you like one of them, you'll almost certainly like the other. Totori, unlike Rorona, really does give you that feeling of a great adventure. We'll be visiting deserts, snowy plains, deep woods, forests, small islands, a rainforest-like area, giant towers, beaches, plains, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. It's a blast to play, and a blast to replay, just to see what you missed, or how you could approach something differently. There's so much to see and do it's crazy, and it's a joy to LP, too, because of a few extras that make my life much easier.
But, I hope you'll join me shortly as I discover it all again. I haven't played this game since last February, so I'm bound to rediscover a lot of stuff I forgot about. This is one of the most universally beloved games I've ever seen on my long history of using the Internet, and hopefully I can communicate effectively why this is so. Strap in, everyone, it's going to be a long ride.