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Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg review – foraging fever

In our Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg review, we explore a beautifully remastered version of the game that kicked off the beloved franchise.

Atelier Marie Remake review: Mu, Kirie, and Marlone celebrating together after completing a battle,

Our Verdict

Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg expertly synthesizes exploration, combat, and story elements into a beautifully packaged, laid-back RPG experience suitable for long-time fans and newcomers alike.

The Atelier series is a well-known name in the JRPG space, especially for Switch gamers. But some people might not know that the series began far before Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana came to the PS2 in 2005. The series began in 1997 with Atelier Marie: The Alchemist of Salburg, and Western players haven’t had the chance to experience the series’ origin – until now.

Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg is a faithful remaster of Gust and Koei Tecmo’s beloved leisure adventure RPG. You play as Marlone, aka Marie, a struggling student alchemist who is at the bottom of her class. Her teacher decides to set her an alternative task to pass her course: open an atelier in town and present the teachers with the best item she can in four years’ time.

As you might expect given the timed nature of this task, time management plays a big role in Atelier Marie, but so far I’ve never felt too stressed by it. The game’s story takes place over four full calendar years, with days passing each time you return to the atelier after exploring or during material synthesis. The pacing of the timeline feels just right and I never feel like I’m being rushed or that I’m twiddling my thumbs waiting for something to happen.

The core gameplay loop is extremely satisfying as well. Your atelier is in the city of Salburg, which acts as a hub world. In the city center, you can chat with and recruit new party members, visit the inn to pick up quests and listen to rumors, buy equipment upgrades from the weapons shop, and visit the academy to learn new synthesis recipes and buy materials. Once you’re all stocked up, you can head out into the wild to forage for materials and fight monsters.

Atelier Marie Remake: Marie completing synthesis of some Craft in her atelier by the cauldron.

I absolutely love the foraging mechanic in Atelier Marie, although it initially annoyed me that picking up one item costs one day of your precious time. But now I can see that it adds some challenge to the process, making you more aware of resource management and not going around collecting items willy-nilly like you might in Animal Crossing or Stardew Valley. There’s also plenty of automation in this remake to streamline the experiences of fighting and foraging if you prefer to spend time on the story-driven elements.

I have a love-hate relationship with auto-battle functions (and I’m not the only one as you can see from Connor’s piece on the Honkai Star Rail auto-battle mode) but given the linear, turn-based structure of Atelier Marie’s combat and its overall simplicity, this auto-battle function is perfect for grinding through a horde of enemies while I make myself a cup of tea. There’s also an automatic foraging mode, but I’m less of a fan of this one. I can see why someone might use it, especially if you aren’t looking for something in particular, but due to the time management issues I mentioned earlier, I’d rather manually look for the specific ingredients I need than rely on the random chance element of the auto-forager.

If this time management element is scaring you a little, don’t worry! Outside of the standard campaign mode, you have the option to play the story without the four-year countdown. Quests still have their own deadlines, but the overall story doesn’t end after four years, letting you take your time in perfecting syntheses and exploring new areas. Personally, this lack of time pressure would mean that I would get nothing done, but I can see why someone else might prefer it.

Atelier Marie Remake: Marie and Mu's overworld chibi avatars talking to each other in the inn

Atelier Marie feels fairly light on actual story to begin with, other than Marlone’s personal journey to become an alchemist. But then I realized that instead of massive sections of exposition like a lot of JRPGs, which can be overwhelming and tedious, this game drip-feeds you the plot through the rumor system and forging relationships with your party members. I much prefer this method as I can actively choose whose story I care about and interact with them more, while picking up on larger plot points through small rumors and exploration. The game’s chat log also makes it really easy to refresh your memory on certain plot points as it logs every character event that you trigger and even lets you know what to do next to trigger the next part.

The menus and tutorials in this remake are phenomenal. The tutorial at the very beginning is extremely in-depth but segmented in a way that lets you try things for yourself, instead of being stuck reading an instruction manual. After each tool-tip, the game reminds you that you can revisit any mechanics in the menu, and they’re super easy to find. Navigation of both the world and the menus in Atelier Marie Remake just feels perfectly optimized for new and returning players alike, making for a wonderfully pleasant experience.

Atelier Marie Remake: Marie chatting to a 'strange woman' in the visual novel-style overlay

Overall, Atelier Marie is a fantastic introduction to the wider franchise and JRPGs as a whole. I think ‘leisure adventure RPG’ is the perfect way to describe it, as every time I sit down to play I feel at ease and ready to sink hours into my craft as an alchemist. The world is vibrant and the characters are unique, and I now feel more confident to explore more of the Atelier franchise. I can’t say much on the comparison between the original and the remake as it never received a Western release, but this game has already brought me so much joy and I expect that to continue for a good, long time.

If you want to experience more of the iconic Atelier franchise, check out our Atelier Ryza 3 Switch review, our Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy review, or our Atelier Sophie 2 review. Some of these games have also made it onto our list of the best JRPGs on the Switch, so you might find your new favorite title there.