We don't want to speak to soon, but it's looking like summer has finally come to good old blighty - the sun is out, the birds are singing, and the rain has become less of an every day occurrence. Whether it'll last remains to be seen, but what better way to celebrate the feel-good factor of the sunshine than to hide indoors and protect our fragile, pasty-white complexion with a feel-good game? And if it's a feel-good game you're after, the Atelier games deliver it in spades, with their light-hearted stories, cutesy characters and emphasis on crafting - and the latest entry, Atelier Sophie, is just around the corner too, hitting Playstation devices everywhere next month.
Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book sees you plonked into the shoes of the titular Sophie Neuenmuller, who runs an alchemical atelier (or, workshop) in the town of Kirchen Bell - although with no-one else capable of using the lost art of synthesis, there's a limit to what she can create. The story begins when one day, Sophie comes across a rather unusual book with a life of it's own - a life in the literal sense, as it actually contains the spirit of a rather unusual amnesiac girl, known as Plachta, inside. While the book was originally an alchemical recipe book, as Plachta's lost her memories, the book has been wiped blank, in the process erasing the recipes contained therein. Ever the helpful one, Sophie joins forces with Plachta to help fill in her pages and make her human once more. Joining the girls are Julio Sebald Leidenschaft, a young knight from a different country with an undisclosed interest in alchemy, and the ex-mercenary Fritz Weissberg, who's skilled in the ways of the sword, and therefore handy to have around when it comes to foraging for ingredients in the wild. Atelier fans will also recognise Logy, of Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky, who runs a blacksmithing shop in town.
Much like previous Atelier games, Atelier Sophie has a definite focus on alchemy, where you'll have to make regular trips back to your Atelier in order to craft items to aid Sophie and her friends on their travels, whether it's important tools for quests, weapons for battle or potions to restore lost health. However, instead of simply picking the ingredients for your creations from a list, before mixing them together, you'll now have to 'place' them in your cauldron yourself - and how you position them relative to each other will have an effect on the final outcome, either making your item stronger, or adding extra effects. Each different ingredient you can use for your alchemical creations is of a specific size and shape, so in practice, this basically boils down to arranging the ingredients in a grid, Tetris-style, to make maximum use of the space inside your cauldron, and reap all kinds of bonuses for the finished product. In all honesty, it doesn't really sound like that drastic a change from the current system, where each ingredient costs a certain number of 'points' to use out of a maximum number of points you have at your disposal - except it's now represented by a visual grid instead. For a more in depth look at the system, you can check out the official video, which walks you through how to make a healing brew of Sotea using the new synthesis system.
We don't know about you, but we can't wait for Atelier Sophie, when it hits the Playstation 4 and PS Vita next month, on the 10th June. Until then, why not check out the newest trailer, which includes the official Atelier Sophie theme, 'Phronesis', sung by Japanese artist Rurutia: