The recently-announced Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream was discussed in an interview with Gust brand manager Hosoi Junzo in the 10/21 2021 issue of Weekly Famitsu.
Official website (NA): https://www.koeitecmoamerica.com/sophie2/
The interview begins with Hosoi being asked why Sophie was chosen to get a direct sequel. He says that as the Atelier series is seeing its 25th anniversary next year, they wanted to choose a title fitting of the anniversary.
Gust has conducted many surveys, and Atelier Sophie has always remained popular. Sophie and Plachta’s popularity can also be seen in merchandise sales on the Gust Shop. This popularity is one of the factors that led to them deciding on making a sequel to Atelier Sophie – Another is how the release of Atelier Ryza 2 showed them that fans reacted positively to a sequel with the same protagonist.
Hosoi says that when Atelier Lulua was released, they received feedback from fans saying that while they did like Lulua, they also wanted to see a new adventure with Rorona, and wanting to make a new game with characters that the fans like resulted in them deciding on making a new game for Sophie and Plachta.
Next, Hosoi is asked about what the “Mysterious Dream” in the game’s title entails. He says it refers to theme of the game. The story is set in the dream world of Erde Wiege, where she meets many different characters, some who have something to do with her. While he cannot reveal concrete details yet, he does say that Sophie 2 serves as a sort of “episode zero” for the Mysterious series.
Chronologically, Sophie 2 takes place between Atelier Sophie and Atelier Firis, and is one of many adventures Sophie and Plachta had. Hosoi does however emphasize that the game takes place in a dream world where there is no clear relation to time.
Though the game is a sequel, it includes a movie that recaps the events of Atelier Sophie, allowing new players to start with it without playing the first game. Additionally, all of the characters Sophie meets in the game are people she is meeting for the first time, and so the player requires no prior knowledge.
The interviewer asks what merits setting the game in a dream world had, and Hosoi says that being detached from the real world chronologically means that they could include characters that otherwise would not be able to appear in the Mysterious series. Also, the things that happen to Sophie and the other characters in this world result in things happening in the past and future of the Mysterious series world, and the reach of the story is only possible because of the setting. While time in the real world is one-way, that is not the case for the dream world, and so the people there come from all over.
The art and character designs are discussed next, with the interviewer pointing out how artists NOCO and Yuugen working together on an Atelier game has not happened since Lydie & Suelle. The developers felt that having both NOCO and Yuugen would be essential, but the two artists are very busy, making scheduling difficult. However, both just happened to be free at the same time, making the project very lucky. Hosoi also says that both artists are very enthusiastic, and would be willing to come back if they continue the series with, for example, an Atelier Plachta or Atelier Sophie 3.
The interviewer points out how Sophie is wearing a coat again in Sophie 2, and asks about the yellow costume she wore in the latter half of the first game. Hosoi says that fans seem to think that Sophie looks better in more modest outfits, and so they went with the coat in Sophie 2. Additionally, the yellow costume is included as DLC in the Premium Box release of Sophie 2.
While at first glance one might think designing Sophie’s new look might have been easy, Hosoi says that her design is actually the one that was the hardest to handle: Sophie’s design had already been “completed”, and NOCO had trouble figuring out where to go with a complete design. However, they understood that there would have to be differences between the previous game and this one, and the conflict between a complete design and the need for change resulted in a very tough job.
Next, the interviewer points out how each game in the Mysterious has had a mentor figure to the protagonist, and asks if the new character Ramizel is the mentor figure in Sophie 2. Hosoi says that this is not the case: Sophie 2 does not have a mentor figure, and Ramizel is in fact not as experienced an alchemist as Sophie. While they have about the same amount of inherent talent for alchemy, Ramizel herself recognizes that Sophie is currently the better alchemist, and so asks Sophie for help.
As for the new Plachta, Hosoi says that there is of course a reason why she shares the same name as the character already in the series, but that he cannot talk about further details yet. He does however say that he was impressed by the design, and that Yuugen and the 3DCG team put a lot of effort into making her model.
The battle system is brought up, with the interviewer pointing out how Sophie 2 goes back to a turn-based system after the Ryza games’ realtime system. Hosoi says that this was a decision made based on feedback from existing series fans and other RPG fans who said that they prefer more tactical turn-based battles.
Another feature of Sophie 2’s battles is how transition to them is seamless, which Hosoi says should lead to less stress for players. The interviewer asks if, given the size of the fields and numbers of monsters, implementing the seamless transition was difficult, and Hosoi says that while it was difficult, they decided that if they would not be able to implement it, then they would go with a different battle system. There are few RPGs with seamless transition to turn-based battles, and they wanted to show how the series has evolved by implementing it.
The interviewer says it is interesting how the synthesis system now has two different sets of panels, and Hosoi says that this is because they started to feel that the series’ fanbase is split into hardcore and casual players. The Mysterious series’ panel system gets very deep if one cares to delve into it, and so they wanted to have something that would satisfy fans who have stuck with the series all this time, while also having something for new fans who just got into the series with the Secret series, or will be starting with Sophie 2. As such, they made the panel system have two versions.
Finally, Hosoi is asked for a message for fans. He says that 2022 is the Atelier series’ 25th anniversary, and Atelier Sophie 2 is the anniversary’s vanguard. It was the passionate support of fans that made Sophie 2 possible, and he is thankful to them.
Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream will be released on the PS4, Switch, and PC (Steam) on 24 February 2022