Atelier Rorona is the beginning of the Arland series, followed by Totori, Meruru, and the recently released 4th in the series called Lulua. It was released by GUST after the Iris and Mana Khemia series, but before the Dusk trilogy. Gameplay-wise it sits halfway inbetween, as usual, as the Atelier games all make one or two changes in each game, adjusting the gameplay but not a complete overhaul (with the exception of the recent Ryza, which made a ton of changes at once).
It is quest and chapter based and does have a time limit. The time isn’t that strict, but if you intend to get nearly everything in one playthrough, it will be a bit of a squeeze. It’s impossible in the original version, but it is possible in the remastered collection rereleased for modern consoles, the “Plus” versions. However, it will require a lot of fine tuning your assignment stars and friendship levels and staying on top of a ton of quest objectives that can time out or disappear, and then saving before the final assignment to reload and get different endings. If you’re not interested in trying to max it out in one playthrough, it’s a light touch on the time limit.
I won’t be providing a full guide for this one, but if you follow a few general rules, you’ll be fine.
Time is precious so save it every way you can. If a recipe takes 0.2 days to do, then do 5 at once, it’s the same amount of time but you will use those extras later. Partial days are thrown away and rounded up to 1.
Synthesizing takes MP, when you run out it says you have a 50% chance of failure. In my experience this is more like 90%. You can save scum if you want but you will scream and break your controller doing it. Rest on the couch to refill MP, just do it only when needed. When assignment 5 rolls around, items from the Cafe can be purchased to refill MP without wasting time.
Buy rather than make, when possible. If an assignment asks for food, go buy food and submit it. It doesn’t have to be hand-made. Same goes for quests. Time is more precious than money.
Always buy every book you come across, always.
Early game, if you run out of money, scoop 60 water out of the well next to the atelier and go sell it for 60g. It’s tedious but helpful. Also always have a good stock of water, it’s super useful, even if the water there is only quality 40.
Each assignment has 2-3 rows of red stars and one big row of white/gold stars. The gold ones are the ones that count, and if you get 8 in each assignment, you can get the best ending. The way you get gold stars is by getting red stars, and the way you get red stars is by submitting things with certain properties. So if there’s a red star row for item count and a row for item quality and you submit one item and you get 1/5 of an item count red star and 2/5 of an item quality red star, then those add up to 3/5 of a gold star. Get this to at least 8 every assignment, 10 if it’s easy to do and not a big time waste. As soon as you get 3 gold stars, you get the stamp in the middle.
The extra optional things are to get stamps and vouchers. Do at least enough to get all the stamps; prioritize books, then HP and MP, then everything else. Do all of them if it’s not too hard, as vouchers can be turned in for a few high quality items. You have to turn them in to get the reward – merely seeing the notification that you finished the quest is not enough.
Do periodically use vouchers, don’t hoard them forever. You can get high quality phlogiston and other stuff that is what you end up needing to make some of the high quality items needed for some optional quests. But don’t waste them either, the later stuff is better. Just don’t never use them.
Only take quests you know you can do on time. Do as many quests as possible. Literally check inbetween every synthesis for easy quests to jump on, especially ones you can easily just run and buy the item for and come back. And always grab every friendship quest if it’s doable (you’ll find some items are hard to make or use really rare ingredients – you will have to skip a few here and there). Speaking of which, as soon as you get Lionne, add her as a party member and take her out foraging for a while and do every friendship quest you can for her until she’s friendship 10, otherwise she’ll leave permanently at some point; at 10 you’re safe.
Before you go outside the town, check that you have any healing items or bombs in your basket but nothing else. It’s very time-expensive to do outings, but it’s necessary. And your basket is tiny, so keep it as empty as possible before heading out, as it will fill quickly. Speaking of which, puniballs and uni are trash – scrap most of them first when you run out of room unless they are high quality or have a trait you want. If you have a decent amount of meat and fur, low quality ones of those become trash next.
Many gathering areas have multiple exits. In order to open a new exit, you have to go back to the place that has another exit, which yes takes time, and exit from a new direction. I.e. if area A leads to B and C, and A takes 2 days, you have to go to A, exit to B, go back to A (yes it takes 2 more days), and then exit to C. You can’t (unfortunately) open all exits at once.
Every single gathering area, always always gather every single item, and fight every monster that you can safely fight. Doing nothing and exiting an area takes the same number of days as doing everything, so don’t squander the time.
Take Iskel to each new location and forage around until you get a scene with him introducing a new ingredient. Some things don’t spawn until you find them once with him, and then they spawn normally whether he’s with you or not. He’s a good one to take for a while anyways, since he has a heal skill.
Throw Uni at enemies (use them as an item) for extra damage early on. They’re worthless otherwise but you can do double your normal damage in the first hours of the game this way.
When you bring up the teleport menu for traveling around town, if there’s a figure next to an area, there’s an event there. Always go see every event.
Don’t buy anything from Hagel other than Fisk and Phlogiston and books. It’s a waste of money. Unless maybe you need a single ingot for a quest and are overflowing in money.
Do stock up on supplies from everywhere though, you’ll go through it. It’s harder in the first couple assignments as you don’t have much money, but you’ll notice that some ingredients run out quickly. Don’t be afraid to stock up on them and keep 20 of each at all times. Don’t scout outside for materials that you can easily just buy, unless there’s a really specific reason to do so. Note that some materials sold are higher quality versions, like the sundries store’s water. You can stock up if you want, but only if you specifically need it, as the well water is free.
Once Cort shows up, don’t sleep past or synthesize past or be out running around past the 15th of every month. He drops by to sell stuff and if you’re not in your atelier and available, you miss out.
When you get Hom, have her always doing something at all times, everything she does is free, so it’s a waste to have her idle. One way to do this is to take quests for stuff she can make, and then assign her to it, and then go about doing something else while she does the quest item for you. If there’s nothing else to do, send her gathering for whatever the rarest ingredient is that you need.
When you get the decorative basket on your shelf, check it every day for a free material. It adds up.
Making your own weapons and armor with decent traits will always be orders of magnitude better than anything you buy, and more important than leveling at some point. However, there’s only so much you can do early on, until about assignment 5. You can make one piece of junk for an optional stamp, and go ahead and put what you can on it, but farming for decent traits won’t start until assignment 5.
Screw Astrid. Not literally, she’d like that. She’s such a bully.
- https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/ps3/958853-atelier-rorona-the-alchemist-of-arland/faqs/61027 (this has nice ascii maps of each explorable area, though you’ll have to look at the wiki to see what’s in each area)
- Property and Traits Chart: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1IoDJqkrAD0m5hhTjjz8fn8AdxwO4z4X9MdR9oNI6EMw/edit#gid=0