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

Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key by developer Gust Co. Ltd. and publisher Koei Tecmo AmericaSony PlayStation 5 review written by Pierre-Yves with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated Reading Time: 8~10 minutes

The end of the trilogy is upon us. From the Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout to the Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy, join back up with Ryza, Tao, Lent, Bos and Klaudia as they welcome the Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key.

Trilogies, like sequels, always have a raised bar to meet. Is the story as good as the previous entry? How directly do the prior events affect the latest and do they make sense? Are you following the same characters and cast? Or are they cameos? How do the gameplay systems relate? How do the visuals present themselves? Lots of questions and I'm happy to say that other than one quirk in the camera work, Atelier Ryza 3 is a great way to end this trilogy.

Starting back up on the island that they call home, Atelier Ryza 3 sees a return to where it all started while offering so much more. After the events of Atelier Ryza 2, Ryza, our titular protagonist, has returned home to her rustic farmlike island of Kurken Island off the coast to the mainland. Starting off with an attack by monsters, it doesn’t take long to get back into the swing of things as other islands have mysteriously appeared close by and no one knows why. Adding to the sense of urgency in the matter is that these islands are causing earthquakes to Kurken Island and like always, it’s possible that only alchemy will save the day.

Jumping right back into the thick of things I thought was a great way to start off this adventure as for returning fans, you already know the cast, you already know the location, and what you want to really know is what’s going on. Gameplay is as smooth as it’s ever been with you being able to move Ryza around each location by walking, running, jumping, climbing, crawling or swimming through the various obstacles as they present themselves. As you move around these environments, you can gather resources with your hands, staff, hammer, scythe, axe or fishing rod if you’ve already learnt the recipes to make them and have the materials on hand.

As with the other entries into both this trilogy and the series as a whole, alchemy plays both minor and major roles. Minor and major? Wouldn’t one immediately cancel out the other? Not particularly as sometimes you can get away with doing the absolute bare minimum. Simply need an item or a new piece of equipment to progress? You make it if you have the ingredients on hand and then simply continue on your journey. For anyone that’s played any of the Atelier series though, you already know what this means. You aren’t going to be making it very far as that trademark difficulty curve will inevitably show up and make you cry whether you’re ready for it or not. I wish I could say I was kidding…

Thankfully in Atelier Ryza 3 that curve took a good 20~30 hours before it started to really show its fangs. After that point however, it was almost on an hourly basis with enemies getting stronger, appearance of new major foes on the field which couldn’t currently be defeated, and then the latest mandatory boss fight(s). So because of this, performing alchemy is a must for new character equipment and usable items. To do this however, you’ll have to get pretty used to not immediately going to where you’re supposed to go next, as you’ll have to explore fairly high and low in order to find those better ingredients to turn your equipment from something mediocre to something absolutely fabulous.

This is perhaps one of the things that I really enjoyed compared to some of the other entries in the series. Atelier Ryza 3 allows you to explore the world fairly early on even to the point of giving you just about the entire set of locations from the original before going into the newer areas. Do you have to? No. But having these spaces allows for a fairly decent collection of materials early on as well as a way to level up your party before they head onto new lands and tougher foes.

If this approach were to have one issue, it would be the same as any of the more open world experiences. Anything “pressing”, like the fate of Kurken Island, doesn’t feel as important as it should be while you’re out and about picking flowers, breaking rocks and collecting bugs. If you can get past that point though? Atelier Ryza 3 paces itself rather well and I would even say encourages this side exploration as plenty of side quests can be found as well as plenty of party based cutscenes that expand the character’s relationships with each other.

As you’re exploring, you’ll also come across “random” quests given to you either by NPCs or from your own party members. While less important towards the overall adventure and each character’s journey, the rewards can be the difference between having to grind out some money and experience or getting it the quick and easy way. By completing random quests! These quests can range from defeating a pack of monsters that have appeared to handing in various materials of different grades for rewards. What’s really cool about these though, is that the random quests given by your own party can raise that party member’s actual stats outside of leveling and acquiring new gear. So very much worth doing.

Like its predecessors however, the title plays a role in the adventure and the Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key is no exception! Ranging from modifications in alchemy and equipping characters for better stats to exploring the vast reaches available, keys can now be made. Following into one of the various elemental categories, story based locked doors or color coded exploration barriers can be unlocked by using alchemic keys. It took a while for this feature to really kick into high gear, but once it did, it made me have to rethink a variety of ways that I was approaching… well everything.

Keys can be made in one of two ways. The first, is that the party must find a vein of power on the map that is happily and conveniently placed by quick travel points. From there, you can make up to a certain amount of keys before having to return to your Atelier to “rest”, don’t actually have to use the rest function but you do have to head back. The second way to make keys can be done in battle against enemies once the tactics gauge is high enough, more on its return shortly. Once that’s done however, how you use them is up to you but I do wish that it had been mentioned that you can store other keys off to the side in order to more appropriately fill up your active “key chain”.

Finally, the other element that you’ll be spending a lot of time with is the battle system that once again changed from the previous entry. Less drastic than from Atelier Ryza to Atelier Ryza 2, Atelier Ryza 3 has made some updates to the system that I really enjoyed. Starting off with a basic tactics gauge, characters all have a basic string of attacks alongside being able to use action points (AP) to do some real damage. The more points that you use, the more you’ll level up the gauge and the faster that AP will accumulate. 

What’s neat about this is that whoever you are not in control of will be acting independently between one of two states, passive or aggressive. Passive will help you to accumulate AP to do more special attacks yourself and to answer your allies call to perform physical or magical attacks for some rather neat follow ups. Aggressive will have your allies use that AP themselves to perform those abilities which can often leave you without any to do special moves yourself, however, this is where things got to be a lot of fun.

With all of the alchemy being done, odds are that you’re going to make a few interesting items. Curatives, bombs, ice bombs, lightning bombs, explosives in general that can either target one or more enemies in battle. Where Atelier Ryza 3 truly shines in this respect is that item usage is now a “free for all” in which ALL characters can independently accumulate craft points (CP) to use whenever you want them to. So while I originally have a decent spread of healing and damage items on Ryza, I eventually went full attack power while giving Klaudia the healing gear and Lent a mix of the two.

While these three eventually formed my main party, I was also careful to ensure that both Tao and Bos were just as well equipped as it’s super easy to swap characters in and out of a party of five. You will have more characters than that available over time, new to the series and returning alike, but those have to be set up before battle. This makes things a lot of fun as everyone in your party levels up, and if you need to catch some of your other characters up? They can be swapped into those reserve spaces allowing you to still rock the battlefield without having to worry about your characters themselves getting rocked. You are being rocked though its back to the Atelier with a penalty of losing a portion of your accumulated items while out exploring.

Interestingly enough as a near final note, unlike the rest of the trilogy, you can make new Ateliers in the different locations which can end up serving different purposes. The main purpose is obviously to perform alchemy, rest up and save your game, but the other factors are really neat. In addition to the core functions, you can choose whether your Ateliers boost effects for exploration, the quality and trait modifiers of items you gather, or the amount of SP gained while also increasing the likelihood of merchants visiting your Ateliers. And once you’ve potentially outlived the usefulness of certain exploration effects like seeing items on the map, you can redesign them into another type!

If I had one actual issue with Atelier Ryza 3, it would be in some of the camera work. I think the best way to describe it at times would be a hybrid between the Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield. The camera isn’t steady, it moves all over the place and a few times even gave me motion sickness in the heavier storied portions of the adventure. I also found the camera to be too close in battle, often not letting me know that there was more than the enemy that I was focusing on as you also often cannot see your two partners because they are just out of sight depending on their own movements. This would be the only reason to not be sitting between 8.5 and 9 / 10.

All of this said though, the storytelling continues to provide a fun adventure and I’m really happy to have finally had a full trilogy where you get to travel with the same principle cast. Seeing the characters grow over the course of time, 3 years between Atelier Ryza and Atelier Ryza 2, and then 1 year between Atelier Ryza 2 and Atelier Ryza 3, was fun as it allows you to better enjoy the banter especially when they are talking about the past and how much or how little has changed over the years.


Overall, this final chapter in the trilogy was worth the wait and I look forward to seeing what comes next. Between the various gameplay elements and the fun to tag along the story, Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key has once again set a new bar on the series.

Score: 8.25 / 10