If you had asked me to choose the RPG series that will appear unexpectedly on PC in 2019, I doubt I would have chosen Atelier Ryza. Gust’s long series of cherubs doing alchemy has always been a kind of background glow in the RPG space, still there, but barely noticeable. There was no indication that Atelier Ryza would suddenly become a real hit, easily breaking the chain’s sales records while consistently selling in online stores.
But that’s largely what happened. When I arrived in Japan in 2018, I arrived quickly It has sold more than 150,000 units., Which caused a sensation among domestic and foreign fans. He quickly followed suit in North America, hopping through the sales charts on Steam among endless “Thicc Thighs Save Lives” memes. Admittedly, it was a fairly modest success with the grand scheme of things: sell A few hundred thousand units That wouldn’t make your game the next one between us, but it was enough to spark some thoughts, including my own.
Now Atelier Ryza 2 is here, already on the Steam bestseller list. There’s still a long way to go before it matches the popularity of Persona 4 Golden, let alone Genshin Impact, but Atelier finally looks like a series on the rise.
How did Atelier Risa get to this point? Well, Gust doesn’t deserve a penny of credit for the big improvements to the Atelier formula. But it has also benefited from the various trends that have formed over the past decade. Specifically, Japanese RPGs have developed a true PC audience, and Atelier Ryza is uniquely positioned to thrive in that environment.
To find out how Japanese games find a comfortable home on Steam, you don’t need to look any further than Dragon Quest XI, which saw a global PC launch alongside the 2018 PlayStation 4 launch – something you’ve never heard of before. . Years ago (in fact, Dragon Quest VIII hadn’t made it to PC yet).
As Japanese publishers took an international perspective, their attention has inevitably turned to platforms like Steam, which is home to a large, and until recently, untapped audience of enthusiasts. This, in turn, has increased their visibility, giving rise to prosperous modern societies like those enjoyed by their Western counterparts. Seriously have you seen A modification of Final Fantasy IX? They are really good.
However, even by Japanese RPG standards, Atelier’s games are a fitting place, as they are more easily compared to Akiba’s Trip than to games like Final Fantasy. The series has been around for a surprisingly long time, and its roots go back to the late 1990s, when Atelier Marie first appeared on PlayStation and subsequently moved to the Sega Saturn and PC. Atelier Marie created the formula that the series will carry for the next 20 years: a charming cast, a deep crafting system, and a low-stakes adventure. Gust will continue to release Atelier games for roughly 20 years and is excited to create a small but dedicated audience base on platforms like the PlayStation Vita.
When Atelier Ryza entered the scene in 2019, it retained this central core, but significantly expanded its reach. Its graphics are significantly better than its predecessors, with a vivid color scheme reminiscent of Nintendo’s The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild and, more recently, Genshin Impact. Their systems have also been improved, with a revamped crafting system that looks like a skill tree and a much faster combat system. Even the basic art was better. Compare it with Atelier Lulua, Which seems to advertise a mobile game in comparison.
And the- Sighs Yes, the memes also had an effect. when Dingiki revealed PlayStation Character designer Toridamono focused on correcting Ryza’s thigh and the internet reacted quickly.
The result: an all-time high of around 4,000 concurrent users, according to Steam’s charts. For comparison, its direct predecessor, Atelier Lulua, peaked at around 511 simultaneous users. Not bad.
Think about the success of the new series in the West In an interview with Nintendo LifeProducer Junzo Hosoi mainly attributed Ryza’s outbreak to the faster combat system, a combination of turn-based strategy and real-time input.
Atelier took advantage of some trends outside of the series itself.
Is not wrong. Like the rest of the Atelier Ryza games, the combat system is more fluid and engaging, instantly turning heads with a sense of elegance that was definitely missing from previous games. The sequel went a step further by introducing chain attacks, making the combat system brighter in the second round.
But beyond these major enhancements, Atelier has taken advantage of some trends outside of the series itself. Among them, parent company Koei Tecmo has taken a remarkable step forward in quality, achieving success with a host of titles including the Atelier and Nioh series, Team Ninja’s answer to Dark Souls. Atelier Ryza has certainly also benefited from the continued incorporation of anime, which has helped even somewhat esoteric action games like Nier: Automata find a massive audience.
Then there are the technological advantages of the PC itself, exemplified by the Atelier Ryza’s ability to run at 4K 60fps, while the Switch and PS4 versions lock in fewer frames. As a result, Atelier Ryza looks much better on PC, bringing it in line with other recent releases like Monster Hunter: World. With the help of Koei Tecmo, he gradually became more comfortable with PC development, resulting in better, polished ports than the sometimes ramshackle efforts of the past (although Atelier Ryza still has plenty of tearing and other notable issues. at launch).
This all sounds incredible considering that Steam was not available in Japan. In 2011, When the platform and much of its games were still broadcast in English. Until just a few years ago, magazines like Weekly Famitsu were reluctant to cover digital games, preferring to focus on traditional console versions. It took a radical change in the mindset of Japanese publishers to get there. Until now, Japanese publishers seemed a bit surprised when one of their games blew up on their PCs.
So while Atelier Ryza isn’t the first Japanese RPG to hit Steam, it represents an ongoing marine shift in the genre. In the early 2000s, popular developers like BioWare began switching to consoles, leading to speculation that the PC is doomed as a gaming platform. Now, the JRPGs are evolving in the opposite direction. This genre can almost be said to be complete, as it closes the episode that began when Yuji Horii borrowed from Ultima and Wizardry to create Dragon Quest. It can only mean good things for Atelier Risa and games like that, proving that safe and well-made JRPGs can have a bright future on PC, regardless of their historical niche.