The Atelier series is a lovely little JRPG series that is a unique combination of RPG, crafting, and stat min-maxing. It has unique pacing and a very open-world feel that can be both exhilarating and daunting at times. Unlike most RPG’s, fighting monsters for XP is a minor portion of the game. Most of your time is spent collecting materials to craft something using alchemy, either to solve some plot-related problem or to make better items, weapons, and armor.
Atelier Firis is the second in the “Mysterious” cycle of the series, following Atelier Sophie, and followed by Atelier Lydie and Suelle. It follows the adventures of Firis Mistlud as she goes on a trek to study Alchemy and pass the Alchemist Licensing Exam, and then go on from there once she does.
In this particular game, you do not have a home base, and that is new for the Atelier series. This is a much more mobile game, as you have a portable Atelier that you bring with you at all times. So you’re really traveling very far across the world, and home is where you make camp that night.
Unlike Atelier Sophie, at least the first half of the game has a hard deadline: pass the exam within a year of game time, or it’s a rock-hard Game Over. But unlike the other Atelier games, there’s only a single recipe and a single trophy that’s missable. When you play the game, just decide how hard core you want to be. If you don’t plan on ever platinuming the game, don’t worry about the two missable things. The recipe you’ll probably get anyways, and if you miss it, it’s not important. The one trophy is VERY challenging to get, and must absolutely be done during the timed portion of the game.
If you don’t care about those, then just make sure to head in the direction of Reisenberg at all times, with 2 short detours to pick up 2 of the three letters of recommendation you need to bring to the exam, returning to Flussheim as soon as you get past it for the third, and then meander to Reisenberg, taking your merry, sweet time. The deadline is really very, very light. I did the hard challenge and still had 1-2 months left before the deadline. If I didn’t go for the challenge, I could have nearly done the whole thing in 1/3 of the given year, so don’t let it panic you.
If you really want the trophy, you’ll be making a much more concerted effort to collect the second-to-top tier traits, and high quality or specialized materials, to stack on to weapons, armor, and bombs for Firis. That’ll take more game days than the entire plotline put together, especially at that point in the game when your resources are more limited, traveling is slower, and you can’t always craft the best way because you’re watching the clock.
But either way, once you pass the exam, the “game” is “officially” over, but the game then has only just begun. Most of the content of the game is post-exam, including plot, and there’s absolutely no time limit after that point, so you can freely craft anything you want, sleep for days at a time, dink around endlessly, fight anything at any time, and generally do anything you want.
Oh and if you’re deciding whether to buy the DLC, here’s the deal. The “Cleric” outfit is pretty worthwhile, it makes you earn alchemy level points faster. Both DLC characters are well done, but they’re not necessary – the normal characters you find are really all you need. That being said, they are well done and heavily integrated characters that interact with the non-DLC characters a lot and have their own extended post-exam plotlines, so the content is pretty good. I’d say the one outfit definitely yes, and the two characters if you want additional quests. PS4 does not have the “preorder” DLC Wonderland and Resort Vacation outfits that give lessened craft time and better rare drops, respectively, so don’t bother looking.
I’m currently working on a User Guide and such, like I did for Sophie, but it’s not ready yet.