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these games are not your traditional JRPGs where you travel with a party and save the world. these games are more of a simulation RPG with a heavy emphasis on Alchemy, Time Management, and Resource Management.
these games are far more relaxed and the story takes a backseat. there is still a story though, and it IS still important to the main character.. just that the way the game is designed, you aren't forced to do the story if you dont' want to..
these games have multiple endings but the "bad end" is not really a bad end that you'd typically expect but more of a "i could have and should have done better *shrug*" sort of ending.
you only play as the main character, the alchemist. but you can hire friends and other characters to be your bodyguards outside of town.
the core of the game is alchemy. if you dont' use alchemy, you may not even survive outside of town. the alchemy system is what makes me want to call the game a sandbox/open-world game because of how much exploration/experimentation you can have with the alchemy.
in this game, there's 3 years to accomplish what you want (then it forces you to the endings but as i said, there's no real bad ending... the bad ending is more of a neutral "should have done better" sort of 'lazy bum' ending). now that's 3 in-game years. 1095 days... that's plenty to do whatever you want.
now what uses up days? the number of excessive turns you need to take in a battle will potentially occupy a portion of the day or more... gathering ingredients will occupy a portion of the day. synthesizing items will occupy a different amount of days depending on items and quantity created. travelling between areas on the world map.
now all of those time stuff can be reduced through items you can obtain or create later on in the game.
since there's no games in the west like Atelier games, i encourage you to at least try one of the games. (personally, i would suggest Atelier Annie if you have a DS just because of the humour in that game.) -----
so how does the game end?
there's a progression in the story that takes place in 3 years.
you shouldn't be thinking of the 3 years as a time limit but more a way to gauge how far in the game you are..
this game series is made for multiple playthroughs and often times, the first one is just for fooling around and learning the game. locations, recipes, etc... the other playthroughs are for getting serious in terms of aiming for specific endings.
it's a very relaxed sort of game. you can do whatever you want.
the 1095 days is just to end the game accordingly (also, the game series started with characters in a school or academia setting thus the 3 years reflects that of 3 year schooling format)
you shouldn't be a student forever right?
each playthrough, you may encounter something different that you may not have seen previously. keeps the game fresh.
the game that removed the time limit actually wasn't well recieved at all... Judie was the game.. it affected Viorate's sale but Viorate going back to the roots helped Iris' sales.. however, Iris being a traditional JRPG format was so horribly recieved that it ruined the sales of Iris 2 Iris 3 and both Mana Khemia games...
they had to make sure ppl knew that they were returning to their roots in order for rorona's sales to have gone as good as it did..
Mana-Khemia Saga <------- battle system focused traditional JRPG in school setting Project A9: Mana Khemia Project A10: Mana Khemia 2
Arland Saga <------ return to traditional Atelier format Project A11: Atelier Rorona Poject A12: Atelier Totori Project A13: Atelier Meruru
Twilight Land / Dusk saga Project A14: Atelier Ayesha Project A15: Atelier Escha&Logy <--- minor differences but still largely plays like a typical Atelier game. ----------------------------------------------- Atelier Marie https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQTrMF7hL4c www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAozM6dYzQ8 www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZE2NFZsHjw
Let's Play: Atelier Marie https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQTrMF7hL4c --------------------------------------------------