Review – Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg

The Atelier franchise, a once hidden commodity that cultivated a niche, has recently managed to break into the mainstream. This success can be directly attributed to a little-known trilogy known as Atelier Ryza. Thick thighs save lives, after all, and the internet immediately grabbed hold of the female protagonist. I admit some of the reasons are questionable, but the majority gravitated to how she represents a healthy body image for women. It also helps that, overall, this experience proves to be actually competent.

We here in the West, however, wouldn’t get the initial title in the series. Back in 1997, Atelier Marie hit PlayStation, introducing Japan to the first Alchemist Waifu. Now, in 2023, Koei Tecmo and Gust have decided that we deserve to meet her. With a fresh coat of paint, we witness where it began, and I’m pumped. After committing roughly 35 hours to this romp, my opinions are festering – so grab a hot beverage as we get into it.

Atelier Marie: The Alchemist of Salburg - Startibv my adventure!

Despite the cute art style, Koei Tecmo and Gust still made sure to make breasts visible. Priorities, I suppose…



I have a fiery passion for the cozy genre. If you were to dive into my backlog of coverage, that would be painfully obvious. What makes a game fit into that category is a variety of facets, but chief among them has to be a quirky script. I want to see charm dripping from every word. A smile best be engulfing half my face while my heart gushes. Even if it’s merely a grin, as long as there’s a semblance of happiness, that’s a wrap. Well, Atelier Marie meets the requirements, but there’s a caveat. It was also released 26 years ago, and it shows.

Being how it kickstarts the franchise, several of the ideas won’t be fleshed out. That fact also applies to literary prowess. The depth I find in modern Atelier may not be here, but the wholesomeness, as well as the silliness, is. Whether concocting a hair-growing serum for a bald man or capturing a thief, I was perpetually entertained. The titular Marie is a delight, and she oozes charisma. Watching the interactions with her best friend especially felt like a treat. Sadly, that won’t extend to everybody, and a couple felt slightly half-baked. The substance is surely there because I can see it, but it isn’t properly capitalized on, and that’s a shame.

I want y’all to imagine an animal tackling a cage, trying to bust through – the door rattles like crazy. That’s how it feels when it concerns potential. Granted, the various NPCs have weight to their backgrounds, but it’s one-dimensional. It never got going for me, and while I found the threads it was weaving to be decently interesting, my curiosity was never truly piqued. To be clear, I don’t consider the writing to be awful in any shape or form. Yeah, it isn’t sublime, but it’s passable and made a pleasant romp. Despite how shallow some characters felt, my session remains enjoyable. What I reckon prevents my intrigue from fully blossoming is the structure.

Atelier Marie: The Alchemist of Salburg - Checking how to unlock certain cutscenes.

You’ll never get 100% on your first go, but hooray for replayability!


The key events that advance plotlines are tied to prerequisites. On paper, it’s a fantastic way to entice a player to converse. In practice, it creates a level of awkward story pacing. For anyone that’s like me and has an atrocious memory, it’s troublesome. I often went an hour or two without seeing the next step because I hadn’t met the requirements. By then, any stimulation I had about what was transpiring was dampened by that gap. What made it worse was that there was a fair chunk of cutscenes to watch, meaning I was receiving a heap of information at once. Due to the narrative beats being jumbled, it serves as extra strain to my already wavering motivation – it confused me as I bounced around. Still, it’s worth repeating that in lieu of everything; it’s satisfactory.


Throughout the years, the calendar mechanic has been deemed controversial in the earliest Atelier titles. It acts as a timer, and I’d have a certain amount of days to accomplish whatever assignment I’m given. The mere mention of it is enough to cause anxiety to well up in the stomach. If I’m frank, my initial session made me panic, afraid of contending with such a feature. Fortunately, it isn’t as constrictive as I expected. In actuality, I reckon that it’s generous. Yeah, I was pretty stingy in the beginning. It wouldn’t be until New Game+, after coming to grips with the gameplay facets, that I was no longer conservative. I began willingly scavenging, and that’s when I saw how deceptively lenient it is, as well as how it clearly displays upcoming goals.

Since we’re on the subject of a clock, it’s imperative to note that several actions contribute to it counting down. By foraging flowers, filling containers with water, and smashing rocks, it lessens by a tick. That was a source of the worries I outlined above, but I quickly came to terms with how goofy I was being. See, Atelier Marie does a spectacular job mitigating the stress that could have been. It achieves such a feat by perfectly balancing risk versus reward and consistently giving me a surplus. I rarely ever ran out of supplies, specifically when I loosened up and wasn’t so frugal. If I do start feeling overwhelmed, I can eventually hire helpers, too.

Atelier Marie: The Alchemist of Salburg - Decidinh what to make in my cauldron.

What to make, what to make. I suck at making decisions.



The bread and butter of this series is Alchemy, and while later entries take a complicated route to how it functions, Atelier Marie keeps it simple. In other words, I understood what I was doing almost immediately, which is a good sign – if I can grasp it, anyone can. Gathering the ingredients necessary to make things, be it a bomb or medicine, is also direct, tasking you with locating materials inside biomes. Before entering, a list appears, outlining any items found within. Sometimes there’s overlap with other areas, but usually, most are exclusive. Of course, that means I’m constantly revisiting, and an argument could be made for repetition. However, thanks to the small size of these maps, there’s zero chance for it to settle in and be a nuisance.

Sure, the unambiguous nature may drum up fears of no engagement but rest assured, as it still maintains a tiny tinge. Even if the act is dreadfully easy, I must plan my outings accordingly. Making whatever my heart desires also has the ill effect of running down that timer. Maybe the wheel of cheese I want takes a week to complete, or perhaps a unique type of spinach is a three-day process. Whatever the case, I must ensure I’m hyper-aware. If I create stuff all willy-nilly, it’s possible to travel a path that ultimately leads toward a bad ending. Hell, I could miss the dates that festivals and the outdoor fruit market occur.

When it concerns acquiring recipes, it’s as straightforward as combining. It’s disappointing that I don’t earn them by partaking in sidequests, though, but that’s disgustingly subjective. In the same breath, that truth is also a byproduct of Atelier Marie being a classic. The many notions can be seen as simplistic, but I had a blast witnessing the roots of the series. Now, to obtain the know-how behind producing fresh concoctions, my wallet is crucial. It costs money but is extremely affordable. What I have smitten over it is how it emboldens me to experiment as I sniff out what mixtures have the best passive perk and the chance to turn a profit.

Atelier Marie: The Alchemist of Salburg - Traveling to a new location!

Dammit, this game is really highlighting my inability to decide what to do!



Speaking of quests, there are two distinct groupings. Firstly, a fair bit is accessed through the tavern in town. However, these aren’t traditional. I’m not going into the wilderness, sword in hand, and killing monsters that prey on the village. No, I’m fulfilling the orders placed by the inhabitants. Here’s the thing – the time limit’s thriving, with folks anticipating modestly fast delivery. They have Amazon Prime, and if you’re tardy, the prize diminishes. I faltered in a handful of instances, failing to brew up what I was asked for within the allotted deadline. It was frustrating as the penalty can be harsh, but then I stumbled upon an alternative method. By hoarding a large stockpile, I can promptly flip them for a decent wad of dinero.

Secondly, I’ve got five years to conquer the core quest line and have to meet random objectives that I’m actually not obligated to. Whether I do or don’t is irrelevant regarding gaining a feeling of finality. I’ll always beat the game, regardless of my decisions. I suppose you could say I get to pick and choose, and sure, when it comes to unlockables, being proactive determines those. That isn’t problematic to achieve since I purposely had to try for failure. It demands minimal effort to succeed, and I’d even inadvertently fulfill the conditions of the following goal while working through the current one. The challenge here is nonexistent, but never fret, as difficulty settings exist. After getting the credits, a Very Hard mode becomes available. I took it for a test drive, finding that it doesn’t seem to affect alchemy, but it does to combat.


Battles are contested under turn-based rules and won’t be breaking new ground. It’s the very definition of basic, with no ounce of innovation. The move pool especially lacks depth. No matter how much I increase my level, zero new techniques are added to my arsenal. Atelier Marie is a stripped-down JRPG. I wouldn’t class that as a negative, though. It’s concise and easy to pick up. I found immense enjoyment in how relaxing it was, factoring into how cozy I felt. Hell, if encounters were still stressful, I could put on automation and let it ride. Even the A.I is pretty damn intelligent. Whenever death was knocking, my allies utilized restoration items. If there was a hunger for slaughter, they made liberal use of abilities.

Atelier Marie: The Alchemist of Salburg - Engaged in combat!

C’mon, you can’t look at this photo and tell me it ain’t friggin adorbs.


Now, the need to grind is inevitable, and you bet your tush that it’s alive and prospering in Atelier Marie. It isn’t the tedious chore you’d think, however. No, thanks to how breezy these skirmishes are, it resembles a light jog. Within seconds, I was done and already moving on. Additionally, there’s the great quality of life feature of fast-forwarding. Alright, wait, if you can’t learn skills by bolstering levels, then what in the hell is the point, I hear y’all ask. The answer is that by defeating snake ladies or wolves, I gain a charitable number of materials. Honestly, it’s the better route of doing so because, on plenty of occasions, I got a high return on a diverse selection.


Being a mercenary can be a lucrative job. You’re essentially being hired based on your capability to murder. It sounds grim for such a wholesome journey, but it’s that little sprinkling of darkness that’s key to countering the cuteness. See, scattered throughout the village are warriors awaiting employment, and for a wage, they’ll happily take up arms beside Marie. If I were to befriend them, then their price would be lowered. As their likeability meter rises, group genocide is no longer strictly business, becoming a chance to bond. I’m encouraged to nurture these relationships because obtaining full affection causes the cost to dwindle to zero.


I’m lukewarm on the actual selling mechanic. Typically, I can pick whatever I deem worthless before offloading it on a poor sap. Sadly, Atelier Marie pities shopkeepers, restricting what I can or can’t pawn off. Every ten days, there’s a rotation of five items that are seen as valuable. On the surface, this feature sounds ridiculous. I also admit that it took me a fair chunk of time before I fully grasped it, but as I kept playing, I noticed a clear pattern. It follows a specific sequence I had no trouble memorizing. It reached the point I could accurately predict what was upcoming, thus adequately preparing what I needed. Not to mention that once I wised up to the shenanigans, cash never proved to be a dilemma again.

Atelier Marie: The Alchemist of Salburg - Choosing a place to fast travel to.

Did I mention there’s fast travel? Because there’s fast travel.



The Chibi art style isn’t for everyone, and I can undoubtedly see it being a barrier for those individuals. Whatever the opinions, I was personally enamored by it. The character models are downright adorable. The utilization of colors is well-done, too, bringing vibrancy to the little town. As I lay in bed, staring at my OLED screen in portable mode, I was in awe. It really pops, slapping me across the jaw. My only qualm lies with the environments I can visit when collecting ingredients for Alchemy. I would have liked slightly more variety within. It’s not terrible, and the puny map does help mask how bland it is. Still, because the game is a remake, traveling the extra mile would’ve greatly impacted bringing Atelier Marie into the modern age.


I think the question on everyone’s mind is how the performance is, and the answer is the peanut butter smoothness is intact. That shouldn’t be a surprise as, graphically, we aren’t dealing with a heavyweight. I could put it through the paces as much as I liked and never see a stutter. Another big question is how the loading is on Nintendo Switch. Much like with the stable framerate, they’re silky and won’t last an unreasonably long time. Transitioning between screens was never annoying since it always happened in a snap – the optimization is mint.


If you were fortunate enough to import the original, rejoice, as nostalgia is on the menu. If you so desire to, the music from the Playstation original can be brought back. I respect the want to relive childhood, but guys, I’m stoked by this revamped soundtrack. Hearing how it has been updated was fun, but mileage will vary because I’m an audiophile. What won’t is how evident the whimsy is in every note echoing from the speakers. There’s a potent sense of cheerfulness in the songs accompanying the town and when in the Atelier. Even when locked in conflict, what I hear isn’t ominous. It matches the vibe of Atelier Marie to perfection, retaining that chipper beat. Did I mention a few are catchy, and as I’m penning this review, I am humming like a madman?

Atelier Marie: The Alchemist of Salburg - Catching a thief with a magic rope!

Oh no, I’ve seen this type of anime before…



Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg may be an oldie, but there’s absolutely no disputing that it’s a goodie. The ease with which everything functions is quite beneficial to children as it’s easily understood, allowing them to enjoy it suitably. It’s the ideal introduction to the franchise before embarking on those more involved. I loved the gameplay loop of repeatedly jumping into New Game+ to uncover unlockables. You’d think redoing the same five years would wear thin, but it’s the contrary. I wasn’t ever bored, and I’d attribute that to how bite-sized these areas are. The linearity was also grossly helped because my destination was always in sight. When I logged off to write this review, only one thought was on my mind: a petition for Koei Tecmo to remake the other Atelier titles.

Graphics: 7.5

It has the delightful aesthetic going on that makes me feel happiness in my tum tum. I do wish a few things were different, such as the biomes I go to. I had to deduct points due to the fact traveling between levels is done through an over world map.

Gameplay: 7.5

Sure, nothing about it is going to astound. Nothing about it is going to pioneer a facet to the JRPG genre. None of that matters, though, because while it doesn’t take risks, it does everything it does perfectly. 

Sound: 8.5

I found the audio musings to be extremely catchy. When I’m sitting here, not playing a title, and am unable to get tracks out of my head, you did something right. It’s both cheerful and serene, perfectly encapsulating what makes a cozy game, well, cozy. The Japanese voice acting isn’t bad, either, but I’m a filthy dub lover and would have liked one. 

Fun Factor: 8.0

The gameplay loop is simplistic but there’s something addictive about it. There’s also mini-games that aren’t too tough, but they offer a nice departure from the standard potion concocting. 

Final Verdict: 8.0

Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg is available now on PS4, PS5, PC and Switch.

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.

A copy of Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg was provided by the publisher.