Anime JRPG Review

Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key – Review

Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key is the finale of the popular Atelier Ryza trilogy of JRPGs. Having thoroughly enjoyed the previous titles, along with several other Atelier games from developer GUST, I couldn’t give this one a miss.

Ryza’s Final Summer Adventure

The third title in the Atelier Ryza trilogy opens with the sudden appearance of monster-infested islands which cause earthquakes that have started to shake Ryza’s home. Alongside that, a mysterious voice has started speaking directly into Ryza’s mind, and she feels compelled to use alchemy to create a key without knowing how.

It’s a rather sudden and confusing situation. Fortunately, Ryza has gained a lot of friends through her previous adventures. Tao and Bos already happen to be at their home on Kurken Island, and she sends off a message to call the others. A new adventure is starting, and she needs help to figure out what’s happening.

It’s worth noting early on that Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key should not be the first title you play in this trilogy. While there is a helpful prologue movie summing up the events of the previous games, it’s more of a reminder than anything. It expects you to know the characters, the lore, and the events that have already taken place. Unlike Atelier Sophie 2, I’d certainly not recommend you play this without playing Atelier Ryza and Atelier Ryza 2 first.

Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key - Windmill

Relaxing Adventure

Ryza’s journey is a slow and meandering one, which takes them all over the world. The overarching plot has them searching for clues about the ‘Code of the Universe’ which is calling out to Ryza, but it takes time for plenty of individual character stories along the way. This is to the point that the plot feels in the background until the final hours. It removes the urgency of the danger to the islands somewhat when hours of the journey are spent on helping two crafting guilds to reconcile to help a party member or similar events, but that’s what the Atelier series is – it’s a slow and relaxed adventure series. But even if it takes a long time to get there, it culminates in a final chapter that lacks excitement but has a payoff that fits perfectly with several themes of the game.

Between the individual stories and with plenty of optional side quests and slice-of-life scenes, Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key presents the player with a lot of lore and introspective moments. Ryza and friends spend a lot of time looking at history, and discussing how it affects the present. Characters speak about the responsibility of what should be done with power. More than anything, it has characters thinking about what it means to grow up and their future.

Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key - Tao and Patty

Growing Up

At its core, Atelier Ryza as a series is a coming-of-age story. The series starts with them just beginning to spread their wings, and Atelier Ryza 3 showcases their transition into adulthood. Ryza is helping the island now, not causing trouble. Lent is a strong warrior, able to take on a mentorship role himself. Tao has moved past being the bullied little kid and is now a scholar (and even popular with the ladies).

This theme is repeated often in Atelier Ryza 3, to the point that it felt like it was being hammered in at times. From silly moments like seemingly everyone on the island besieging Ryza for her help, to talks of marriage and careers, to the many slice-of-life moments directly saying how they’ve grown up; it’s less than subtle at times.

It goes further with this as it proceeds, by establishing three subgroups of characters. The newer additions to the group Dian and Federica, along with Patty who we met in Atelier Ryza 2 make up a younger group. They’re being guided and just starting to grow. The original group of Ryza, Lent, Tao, Klaudia, and Bos are still learning and establishing themselves, but we see that they’ve become respectable adults and guide the younger ones. Empel and Lila still play the mentors to Ryza’s group, but in a more hands-off manner and with mutual respect. The new addition Kala joins the older mentors though does sometimes act as her youthful appearance would have you expect. Throughout Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key, we see this dynamic raise its head often and it works brilliantly to showcase the growth of the original group, along with the other changes in maturity.

Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key - World Map

Explore the World (As Much As You Want To)

Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key has a somewhat open world. I say somewhat as loading screens and teleportation between a few maps are still required. It’s certainly a large world to explore though, and I imagine most players will take advantage of the fast travel.

As Ryza runs around (with other transport methods later), finding landmarks will reveal the map and unlock these points. Or perhaps not, depending on how you play.

A player who purely follows the main quest line of Atelier Ryza 3 may miss out on seeing huge amounts of the world. One who plays all of the side quests will see most places. Only someone purposely exploring will be able to see it all. There’s a lot to discover, and I feel like the game is experienced best at a slow pace, by a player who enjoys discovering all of these extra quests or slice-of-life scenes.

I spent a lot of time wandering around. It’s very easy to get distracted in this game. I’d start off heading toward the next main quest marker, then I’d notice icons for a few slice-of-life scenes in a different direction. A side quest was near those, so I’d head off and do that. That took me near a landmark, so I’d go and unlock it. A randomly generated kill quest was along the way, so why not? This is why my save file is closer to 60 hours than the 30 I’m told it would take to complete only the main quest.

One little feature I appreciate is that after clearing the game, it lets you revert back to just before the ending if you don’t choose New Game+. This allowed me to continue some of those extra quests that I hadn’t done yet.

Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key - Zipline

The Secret Keys

The new mechanic in this Atelier title is the keys and their various uses. Outside of their importance in the main storyline, you can create keys from the energy at landmarks or by wearing enemies down and absorbing it from them. These give you different effects based on their rarity and luck of the draw. Later on, you can craft pristine keys as a base which helps to give you a little more control of the outcome.

As a hint that the game never gives you, create keys from bosses and you can get Super Rare keys easily.

Across the land, you’ll find chests and barriers that can be unlocked. Chest contents depend on the key uses. I never found anything interesting in chests when using an uncommon key or below to open them personally. Barriers sometimes let you through blockades, but mostly just contained a chest or some components.

Keys can give various temporary buff effects in battle if you use them. I rarely bothered, but this can be helpful to get past a tough enemy.

You can also equip keys to characters for a boost and they have some vague benefits when adventuring too such as boosting gathering abilities.

My primary use for keys was in alchemy. They can boost a number of aspects, from quantity or quality to element value or more. These are where they come in incredibly useful.

Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key - Alchemy

The Honest Alchemist

As with the other Atelier titles, Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key focuses on alchemy both as a theme and gameplay mechanic. Often quests will need us to find components and create something to proceed. Beyond that, the quality of equipment and items that we make seem far more important than levels and skills.

As anyone playing Atelier Ryza 3 should be familiar with the previous titles, I’ll keep this brief by saying that the alchemy system here is similar enough to Atelier Ryza 2, with a few additions. It’s still a series of loops with some required and some optional that materials go into. By the end game, I was making materials to go into other materials to go into equipment, all to get the right traits and level of quality required. I had to get my notepad out to keep track!

I was pleased to find that quite a lot of the recipes were open from the start. This included all of the gathering tools and some very useful items. I was using a lot of these even in the end-game, after upgrading them or making better versions after unlocking more features through the skill tree.

The feeling of alchemists needing knowledge was represented well here. Equipment can be quite different, depending on what you use, and remembering things like how a certain neutralizer can double as an ore, how jewels can be made to fit certain traits, or how a certain key can add an element really helps. There are too many systems in Atelier Ryza 3 to talk about, and knowledge of them all is needed for the best equipment. That said, perhaps the need for knowledge goes too far at times.

Hunting for Components

I did find the experience of collecting materials a little different from previous titles. It was often difficult to find the items needed. It’s a huge world and some of those ingredients are quite rare to find and only spawn in certain places.

As an example, I unlocked a recipe for Federica’s ultimate weapon by completing a quest. It needed Grand Orgen and Millennial Tree. The Grand Orgen’s main component is Septrin, which is fairly abundant in the trail leading down from an out-of-the-way landmark called the Old Dragon Shrine, but until I went there, I’d only found a single piece. I couldn’t find the Millennial Tree at all (I later heard that Romy sells it at Kurken Port). Another example is I needed a Delphi Rose for a side quest, but I only ever found one throughout the whole game.

Admittedly, my experience may be somewhat different here. I was playing pre-release and in the first days after release. As time goes on, a lot of these answers will be a short search away. But it’s worth keeping in mind if you don’t like to rely on guides.

Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key - Federica Combat

Active Combat

Much like the alchemy system, the combat is similar enough to Atelier Ryza 2. There are some new features and differences, such as now having three active characters and two backup ones to switch in. This is definitely a good thing considering the large party of characters. The order system, the importance of making the best items and equipment, and the lack of serious consequences of dying remain the same.

I really enjoy the combat in these titles. It strikes a perfect balance for me between using commands similar to a turn-based system and throwing in active gameplay such as being able to press guard at the correct time to block, switching in other characters as part of a combo, or choosing actions based on the other character’s orders to activate their bigger moves. It can feel a bit chaotic and confusing at first, but I enjoy it.

Atelier Ryza 3 does suffer from a few difficulty spikes, but most weren’t too bad. The majority were just a change from easily going through battles, to suddenly struggling until making an upgrade. The only major one was the final boss. I went from being able to beat nearby enemies without even making my active character attack, to getting curb-stomped. Even after some massive improvements to my equipment bringing my armor up to level 99 traits and 999 quality, it took me about 30 minutes to take them down, and I had to use revival items repeatedly. This was on normal.

The Downsides

I genuinely had a lot of fun with Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key. That’s not to say it’s perfect though.

There’s the odd interaction issue, such as finding chests and components in the sea that I couldn’t open/collect. Plenty of tutorials are available, but certain things just never get explained fully and it really relies on the previous knowledge from the games before. Sometimes the main story has you repeatedly going back and forth between the same two points, which gets repetitive. I came across randomly generated quests that took me to areas that were still locked off at the time. It’s mostly minor gripes.

The big one is that the localization has notable issues.

I can’t generally comment on translation accuracy, but a couple of things have made me wonder for voiced lines whether I’m understanding it incorrectly, or it’s actually wrong. There have been some unvoiced lines that read oddly too, like calling something ‘amusing’ when ‘interesting’ would’ve made more sense in context.

Some unusual bits are in the script. One example is when Ryza turns to Lent and Klaudia and says “Did Lent and Klaudia notice anything?”, rather than something more natural like “Lent, Klaudia, did either of you notice anything?”

The translator probably didn’t see the scene for some parts. An example of this is “The crystals are shattered” when there was only a single crystal.

Some of the unvoiced dialogue feels quite stiff and formal in some scenes. This is even the case where when it wouldn’t fit the character, such as Ryza talking to a friend.

Finally, there are just flat-out mistakes. I noticed a lot of typos throughout, and a few bits and pieces like a merchant asking if I want to sell something, when I’m buying.

Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key - Hot springs

Pretty Sights and Sounds

Unsurprisingly for anyone who has played the series before, Atelier Ryza 3 has some beautiful sights. The models are high quality, there is the occasional CG with some wonderful artwork, and the environments are quite varied which is particularly impressive for a huge world. While a lot of grasslands are around, it has different areas mixed in, including some off-the-wall ones like a lake of honey.

I played the PlayStation 5 version and the performance had no notable issues. The distance could be a bit blurry, and there was the odd clipping issue, but that’s about it. The framerate was stable and I didn’t notice any pop-in or other problems.

Fanservice remains as present as ever. There isn’t much, but the customary Atelier hot spring scene is achievable in a sidequest, jiggle physics remain, and you can crawl through small crevices with the camera behind Ryza.

The background music is as amazing as ever and the voice actors did a great job. The fun fact here is that the merchant Romy’s voice actor played the final boss too, which you’d not expect when you meet either of them.

Completing the game unlocks an extras menu, much like a lot of visual novels. You can hear the voice actor’s messages after completing the game, listen to the music, see the CGs, and play around with a model viewer.


Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key is a slow adventure that works perfectly as the culmination of Ryza’s trilogy. With tons of interconnected systems keeping things fun and a strong focus on the characters and dynamics between them, it’s a great experience for JRPG fans who enjoy slice-of-life – just make sure to begin at the start of this trilogy.


Platforms: PC (Steam), Switch, PlayStation 4|5

If you enjoy JRPGs, perhaps you’d like to take a look at the remaster of Atelier Ayesha? Or if you enjoy this series, you’ll probably also enjoy Blue Reflection: Second Light.

Many thanks goes to Koei Tecmo for a PlayStation 5 review code for this title.

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