Game Review: Atelier Meruru Plus: The Apprentice of Arland

Sometimes I like to prepare for reviews (and refresh my memory) by reading other reviews of the media in question. I just took a glance at some review scores for this game, and to be honest, I’m actually really surprised, because I think this might be my favourite game in the Arland trilogy series (it’s officially a series now that Atelier Lulua is out).

I mean, spoilers, but I like this game, enough that I technically finished it twice, although the first time was a bad ending so it didn’t really count.

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Merurulince Rede Arls (everyone calls her Meruru) is the princess of Arls Kingdom, a small rural kingdom in the north of the Arland Republic. The kingdom is in the process of merging with the republic, and Meruru is captivated by alchemy and wants to use it to improve the country. Her father, though skeptical, issues her a directive: improve the kingdom using alchemy before the merger, or give up learning alchemy altogether.

The gameplay as I see it is a fusion of Rorona’s monthly assignments and Totori’s flexibility. Your overall goal is to grow the kingdom’s population, much like Rorona’s goals but annually instead of monthly. You grow the population by acquiring Kingdom Points, which you get through completing tasks like Totori. You can use Kingdom Points to purchase upgrades for the kingdom, which might, say, expand a shop’s inventory. Some development goals change the locations you can visit, making new areas accessible. Naturally, completing goals involves a lot of alchemy, which means a lot of gathering and battling for materials.

Honestly, I didn’t mind most of the new major characters very interesting. I did enjoy the relationship between Rufus, the king’s butler/steward, and his brother Lias (the most unlucky character in video games). I did, however, really like the cameos from major characters from past games, particularly Totori, who is much more confident than she was in her own game.

Even though I enjoyed this game overall, I must confess that at some point in my second run I began to click through most of the conversations. Maybe I’ve finally reached my upper limit of tolerance for anime being, well, anime, or I just hate Astrid, that must be it.

At this point, even though Lulua is ready to go, I’d like to take a break from Arland so I think my next set of reviews will focus on the Mysterious trilogy until I’m able to purchase the Dusk trilogy that just came out.

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