Hiding a love story in Atelier Escha & Logy Plus

Atelier Escha & Logy is one of Gust’s most popular entries in its long-running Atelier series. The original game received a 36/40 from Famitsu, the highest score in the Atelier line yet and became the first to receive an anime series based upon it. Two alchemists from different backgrounds, with different methods and skill sets, come together to accomplish an important goal and reach seemingly impossible, ancient ruins. It was a winning formula. Yet, with Atelier Escha & Logy Plus, Gust managed to enhance and improve it even further. A new facet was added to the storyline in a delightfully natural fashion.

The stars of Atelier Escha & Logy Plus are Escha, a young woman from a small town with traditional methods, and Logy, a young man from the city accustomed to more modern methods. They have each others’ backs, develop a strong working relationship and overcome obstacles together. There’s a clear bond between them. Frankly, they’re adorable together. But in the original Atelier Escha & Logy, we never really saw any indication of there being something more.

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It seemed odd. After all, Escha has a huge effect on Logy’s growth as a character in Atelier Escha & Logy. His entire personality changed prior to the game’s events, due to a sense of responsibility and guilt he took upon himself after an accident. Her influence and encouragement helped him open up again and recover. I know I wondered if something was missing after playing through the game on the PlayStation 3. It seemed like there were moments missing. How could she have such an influence on him, when we hadn’t seen enough moments that would have supported such a development. Later, when we see Escha in Atelier Shallie, Escha reacts to Logy’s correspondence with the sort of enthusiasm you’d expect from a lover, not a friend.

Atelier Escha & Logy Plus allows Gust to acknowledge what people suspected was always there. With the PlayStation Vita port, we get to see those moments between the two of them that might have been there. Downtime, where Logy ends up napping with his head in Escha’s lap. Interactions that could result in a friendly or, if a player is feeling more daring, a romantic one. Awkward moments where something important is left unsaid. Friends noticing behaviors that aren’t exactly typical.

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It doesn’t jump right out at you. Such things often don’t. As with real life, you don’t often understand how important someone is to you or what they mean until you’ve reached a point where you can’t imagine your life without them. The opportunity to guide Atelier Escha & Logy Plus through dialogue responses gives players the chance to explore these avenues and better understand their relationship. Does it seem like there’s something happening? You can see for yourself, with new story segments as a reward.

This method of incorporating a romantic storyline into Atelier Escha & Logy Plus makes this new development feel incredibly organic. Yes, it’s now possible to see why Escha and Logy’s relationship evolved into something more, but it’s there as an option. If you don’t explore it, you’ll see the game as it was. Should you go deeper, it’s as though that content was there all along. Everything fits together. It makes sense, which is quite an achievement. Why did Logy open up again? Because something really was going on with him and Escha all along. How did Escha become more mature as an alchemist? Because Logy was there to offer his support. Atelier Escha & Logy Plus gives fans a new canon, one which shows the development of one of the sweetest and natural love stories in gaming.

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