Mana Khemia
PlayStation 2
Reviewed: 8/10/08

In both gameplay and story, Mana Khemia feels as though it has all
been done before, and better.

Screen Shot
The Grow Book needs a better name.

The story is a slight departure from the other Atelier games. This one
has the main characters traipsing about the school grounds and world surrounding
it learning how to be good little alchemists. Vayne, the main character, is
utterly boring. The other characters are so generic that most players will
simply skip entirely over the optional character-specific scenes that reveal
more about the personalities of the main cast. Even Flay Gunnar, the story’s
high point due to his rather stupid attempts at being some heroic demigod, seems
ho-hum and boring.

The gameplay doesn’t do much to help the situation because the battles are
almost exactly the same as Atelier Iris. It’s the same turn based combat
with random meaningless gauges that we’ve seen countless times now. The game
even stripped out leveling all together, preferring to go with a strange skill
system (the “Grow Book”) that forces players to first unlock a slot, then
synthesize the item shown in that slot, then spend alchemy points earned in
battle to rease stats and learn abilities. It’s like Final Fantasy IX
minus the fun. In all seriousness, it is needlessly complicated and not fun at
all. It just feels forced. Why does making a new kind of potion give my
character +1 attack when I spend the AP?

Screen Shot
Teddis of Doom

Arguably the meat of the gameplay is the alchemy system. This is quite deep,
but it still feels as though it’s all been done before. Characters help each
other in combining several items to make a new one, and the new item then
receives an ether level that determines its effectiveness. If this feels
familiar, it should, because item synthesis is almost the same as it was in
Atelier Iris.

NISA fails in the voice department, but once again, Gust delivers quality music. Mana Khemia isn’t much to look at either. There
are some pseudo-3D graphics in the game, but certainly nothing that looks better
than average.

Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis is not a bad game, it just suffers
because the entire game feels like it’s all been done before. But then, that’s
because it has. And in a lot of ways, it’s been done better.

-Joseph Wartick

Score Breakdown
Below Average
Out of 10
See our Review Criteria
Gameplay Average
Story Bad
Graphics Below Average
Sound/Music Good
Replay Value Below Average
The Verdict: Four