Atelier Ryza 2 Difficulty - Is It Too Easy
May 30th, 2021
This review is only about the difficulty of the Atelier Ryza series. I happen to really enjoy both games so far. They are a lot of fun. But the biggest problem with Atelier Ryza is the difficulty. The series could be made a far better if they allowed higher difficulties.
Atelier Ryza 2 Higher Difficulties Are Locked On The First Playthrough
This was a tremendous disappointment to me. Any difficulties beyond “Hard” are disabled on the first play through. Atelier Ryza was my first Atelier game, I played it on hard and had a ton of fun exploiting and using the game’s awesome crafting system to create weapons, armor, and accessories when I got stuck. I don’t know if I just got better at Atelier Ryza by the time I played the second game, or if it just got easier as a series, but playing on hard I didn’t find myself struggling and being forced to go back and craft to get past an area. This was one of my favorite things about the original Atelier Ryza and being stuck on something.
In a normal JRPG, you’d run into a boss you couldn’t beat and you’d either have to grind for gold to buy better gear, or you’d just grind to level up. Atelier Ryza lets you use the stuff you’ve collected to craft what you need. It adds a huge layer of depth to the game and it lets you progress in a way that’s not grindy at all. In fact I never have to grind when playing Atelier games, even when I was having problems with the original Atelier Ryza game. And I loved it, because you’d spend your time trying to come up with unique ways to make the best gear possible instead of fighting the same monsters over and over again to level up.
But I really missed out on that in Atelier Ryza 2. I don’t know if I got better at the game or if the made Atelier Ryza 2 easier, but locking the higher difficulties was a huge mistake. I would have enjoyed Atelier Ryza 2 if the difficulties were unlocked from the start. My enjoyment of Atelier comes from losing and having to gather and craft to overcome things you can’t beat.
The Mini-Map Ruins Exploration
Atelier Ryza 2 had a big shift towards exploration and being more open world. It obviously wasn't entirely open world, but you had a lot of choices on where to go and how to get through an area. Some were just big open areas. But the sense of exploration was lost because they give you a map of the place right away. It feels very odd, you are out exploring unexplored ruins and you walk in there and have a map of the place.
I could see that being good for new players or people looking for a more casual experience. But the difficulty of Atelier Ryza really suffered from this for me and it really took away from the difficulty and joy of exploration. Normally a map is revealed as you explore it. Atelier Ryza gives you the entire map at as soon as you walk in, and it shows you where treasure chests and such are.
It's a lot of missed opportunity for Atelier Ryza. The first Atelier Ryza game really was weak here and the series is moving towards a new direction, and it was partially hurt. Having a map of what you're exploring really takes away from the game. I spent a lot of time navigating by the minimap instead of the world, because the minimap did a far better job displaying where to go.
In future Atelier games I would love to see higher difficulties have a fog of war for the mini map so you can explore and not have the map spoil everything.
No Risk For Losing Loot
Earlier Atelier games had a time limit for how long you could go out and collect materials for crafting. Atelier Ryza did away with that, and it Atelier Ryza 2, the difficulty was really disappointing here too. If you manage to gather a ton of rare materials, you can always fast travel to your atelier (home base) and put everything away.
It takes away from the sense of exploration and danger. A game like Minecraft does this absolutely right. When you have rare loot and you're far from base and the sun starts going down, you're scared you will die and lose all of your loot. I remember playing Minecraft, and finally getting your first rare materials and being far from base, worried if you'll make it back or lose everything, made exploration feel very rewarding.
That's not there in Atelier Ryza 2, because you can always fast travel back to base. I had situations where I just barely scraped by with a lot of loot, finishing a battle, everyone almost dead with no way to heal. I just fast traveled back and kept all my stuff. It really made the game too easy, because you can snowball from having all that rare loot by crafting more and more.
Higher difficulties should not allow fast travel back if you're in a dungeon, or they should only allow it at safe spots. It would make things a lot more rewarding and it would make Atelier Ryza more difficult if that's what you're looking for
Yes It's Easy But It's A Great Game
I do love Atelier Ryza, and if highly optimized crafting is your bag of tea than the series is awesome for you. I love the series, it's great. It bucks a lot of tropes and cliches from JRPGs. The stories in Atelier games aren't about saving the world or killing God, it's about maturing to leave your home town or growing up as you explore. The characters and story are very heart warming and enjoyable, and there's plenty of time to get to know them.
The battle system is a real time type of thing that's a ton of fun, face paced and really keeps you paying attention and thinking about strategy. Almost everything about the Atelier series makes it one of my favorite JRPG series to play.
But the difficulty of Atelier Ryza is too low, Atelier Ryza is too easy and it's the biggest flaw of the entire series. Atelier Ryza 3 has already been announced, and I would love to see changes in the Atelier Ryza series to make the games more difficulty if you want it to be.
I do think the first game you play, you will have a difficulty time because the Atelier series bucks so many trends of RPGs and there's a lot to learn. But that makes the series capable of being made very easy by exploiting the system, and you can absolutely do it quite easily.