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Video Game: Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny aka: Atelier Iris 2
Being a hero makes you go gray early
Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny is the second in the Atelier Iris series of Role Playing video games which itself is a subseries of the Atelier alchemy-based RPGs. (Note: "Azoth" is an old alchemical term for mercury, once believed to be a wondrous substance.)Despite being a sequel, the game actually takes place several centuries before the first Atelier Iris (since the character of Iris appears only as child.) It stars a pair of teenage alchemists, Felt and Viese, who, having grown up together, have the old Anime problem of denying their obvious feelings for each other.When their homeland, Eden (where humans and Mana, the spirits of the Alchemical elements, coexist peacefully) literally starts to vanish, Felt finds himself chosen by the titular Azoth (actually a talking sword) to go to another world to investigate the cause. While separated, the two friends keep in contact thanks to a magical device that allows them to share items (and letters.) Felt discovers that on the other world, Belkhyde, alchemy is a near-forgotten art (and is considered an art used for evil), an abusive empire rules, and an evil version of the Azoth is loose. Viese helps mostly by making alchemical items for Felt, though she does have her own adventures on Eden concurrent with Felt's, including investigating a mysterious little girl...The playable characters include:
Felt, who, besides wielding the Azoth, learns how to upgrade weapons on Belkhyde;
Viese, who adventures alone for most of the game on Eden (pronounced vee-say);
Noin, a sexy warrior girl who saves Felt and gets him involved in the rebellion against the Empire;
Gray, a humanoid dragon (actually a warrior who gained a draconic appearance from fighting too many dragons );
Poe, a fairy who looks like a little boy but is actually an incorrigible womanizer (and fights with a gun!)
Fee, a female warrior sent to destroy the Azoth (it's a misunderstanding) by a religious order.
This game provides examples of:
Accidental Marriage: Poe ends up marrying a Cat Girl when she overhears him reciting a love declaration and believes it to be directed at her.
Alchemy Is Magic: Complete with Instant Runes for element extraction and item "initialization" (making a newly crafted item available for mana synthesis).
And Now for Someone Completely Different: This is actually a core mechanic of the game and one of it's selling points; you can flip between Felt on the ground and Viese in Eden as you wish and progress the two stories as you see fit. (Well, to some degree, at least; advancing Viese's story requires certain triggers at points in Felt's story. And the tales eventually merge, to boot.)
Anti-Villain: Chaos. At least near the end, when you find out about his dead little sister.
Bag of Sharing: The Share Rings, which let Felt and Viese share items (including stuff Viese makes with all the things Felt finds in the lower world) despite their great distance from one another. Somehow, this still includes the rest of the party.
Barbie Doll Anatomy: The Sound Manas, which appear as rather well-endowed young women with pointed ears and skin coloration that looks like a risque blue swimsuit, gloves, and long socks... but no nipples (and legs always conveniently crossed to cover anything else). It's not too obvious until you talk to one as part of the plot and get a full-body portrait of her.
Become Your Weapon: Palaxius pulls this trope when he merges with the Azoth for the final boss fight.
Combat Medic: Noin is a capable brawler and also gets several group healing skills, reserving healing items for when you need the Skill Gauge for attacks or when Noin's not around (in contrast to the previous game, where items made up almost all your healing power).
Combos: Using the break attack on an enemy knocks them back in the initiative count, and if it puts them in the "break" part of the Visual Initiative Queue, you get bonus damage and build up a chain for further break attacks keeping them there. The chain ends if the enemy gets out of the break part of the initiative, and so fast enemies are hard to keep broken. Getting a chain grants you bonus experience and skill points.
Cosmic Keystone: The workshops, called the Paradies auf Eden, which are the engines in the real world by which the artificial world of Eden is maintained.
Crapsack World: The world below Eden is initially portrayed as this, in contrast to Eden's Utopia. (The truth is, naturally, a little more complicated.) This version of Regallzine is still quite easily the grimmest setting the franchise has ever explored, though.
Cursed with Awesome: Gray. Even though he wants to break the curse that made him half dragon, it has given him powers he would never have had as a human and since he is famous and his story is widely known, he is accepted everywhere so he doesn't even have the excuse of being an outcast after being turned into a monster. At the end of the game after he kills the one who cursed him, he says its better he didn't change back as he would lose all the dragon powers he gained and they will need all the power they can get to fight Palaxius.
Doomed by Canon: Being that 2 is a prequel to 1, and that Iris and the people that protected her were killed...
Duel Boss: Your first encounter with Fee, after rescuing Max. Not a hard fight, you can get by with just spamming Craft bombs and Heal Herbs.
Elemental Tiers: Ice items are again the weakest, since there are only two of them and the stronger one only deals medium damage. Meanwhile, there are a lot more Fire-based items and the second strongest item (Cerberus Flute) is Fire-based. The strongest item, however, deals all four elemental damage at once.
Empty Levels: Any individual level's stat boosts are relatively minor: so minor they don't even tell you. The gains eventually add up but your real improvements are from passive skills, gear, and weapon synthesis.
Experience Booster: The one who deals the final blow in a fight gains a +10% experience bonus.
Expy: Yach and Hagel are reproduced, sprite and all, from the first game. This time Yach is a merchant in Eden (rather than a precocious child who wants to study alchemy), while Hagel is a smith hiding out in a mountain whose services you have to secure (instead of a weapon shop merchant).
Fantasy Gun Control: Very oddly used here. Poe, obviously, avoids this completely... but at the same time he has a "magic" gun which isn't a standard weapon at all. The Imperials don't seem to use personal firearms at all, and even cannons don't show up that much, despite the culture of Regallzine being fairly advanced otherwise. Granted, this might have to do with people's perceptions of alchemy before Felt arrives on the scene, but still.
Floating Continent: Eden appears to be a large island floating in empty sky with nothing beneath. This is because it's in a pocket universe not much bigger than the island itself.
Fragile Speedster: Fee, who has a fantastic speed and okay damage, but can't take hits too well. Noin was in the running, especially when you only had Felt and Gray to compare her to, before Fee showed up and stole the title.
Funny Background Event: Iris has an Idle Animation where she mixes chemicals until they explode out of a beaker in a tiny mushroom cloud that does little more than ruffle her hair and clothes.
Global Currency: Cole. Accepted in two worlds, at that. Because they used to be one.
Good Republic, Evil Empire: Slightly averted as the Simsilt group seeks to restore the Monarchy, but you still have the basic structure.
Hand Cannon: Poe's absurd doomcannon is as big as he is. And then of course he's always hitting on Viese whenever possible...
Healing Checkpoint: Camps, marked by glowing purple circles. Healed automatically upon use, after which you enter a large tent where you can chat with other party members, save, and switch between Felt and Viese.
Heroes Prefer Swords: Felt. It made him the odd man out in Eden where there's nothing to fight, but that just made the people of Eden genuinely grateful when he stepped up to take the Azoth and go figure out what the hell just happened.
Human Resources: Felt extracts elements from any enemy he kills, even humans.
100% Completion: The item and monster compendiums return from the first game.
Item synthesis in Viese's workshop, where you combine harvested materials to create new items. The materials have various properties that they grant to the finished item, such as improved damage or increasing various stats. You create worn equipment as well as disposable items this way. Viese then "initializes" the (disposable) mana items so they can be created with the second kind of crafting...
Mana synthesis, which involves using extracted elements (taken from enemies and bits of scenery) to reproduce a mana item. Both Felt and Viese can perform it. It allows making mana items in abundance quickly and cheaply.
Weapon synthesis, combining a weapon with a specific item to improve or otherwise alter its stats. Makes them more powerful, lets them deal elemental damage, and is the main source of new attack skills. Only Felt can do it, at an anvil in camping spots.
It's Up to You: Justified. Felt was the one on the spot when the Azoth needed to be drawn, and the situation needs an alchemist who is willing and able to fight. Nobody else in Eden had the right skill set, and nobody in Belkhyde even knows there's a problem and probably wouldn't care because it's not their world falling apart and oh did you happen to notice The Empire trying to conquer everything over here, we're kind of busy.
Jumped at the Call: Felt had been trying to pull the Azoth from the stone it was trapped in nearly every day for several years already. He didn't just jump at the call, he'd been picking up the phone and yelling impatiently at the dialtone almost daily for years now.
Kid with the Leash: Felt, keeping the Azoth in check (a fact for which the world should be infinitely grateful).
The Klutz: Coco the Wind Mana, who helps out in a shop in Eden. She regularly trips and drops everything, despite flying - because she often loses control of the tiny whirlwind that every Wind Mana uses to fly.
La Résistance: Simsilt, the revolutionary group headed by the last member of the royal family overthrown by The Empire.
Large Ham: Poe, particularly when speaking to women in his usual flowery manner.
Lazy Backup: You can only have three party members in a fight at a time, while enemies can have many more, for... some reason. But your backup will trade places with downed party members once you actually have more than three people in the party at once.
Level Grinding: Tech Points Grinding, really. It's easy to end up with a pile of unlearned skills because you just kept going on with the story at a steady pace, rather than stopping to grind or taking advantage of break attacks and combo chains. You can also equip two of the same Alchemy Item to get double skill points on a single skill, if there's one you must have quickly.
Now, Where Was I Going Again?: The save screen shows an icon of Felt or Viese to indicate which one the main plot is currently following, and you can get hints about where to go next from party members in the camp.
Random Drops: An important source of some crafting materials.
Random Encounters: Random encounters drain a meter in dungeon areas, so when it empties you'll have no more encounters until you leave the dungeon entirely or rest. Each screen in the dungeon actually has a separate meter.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: Felt and Viese, although they aren't antagonistic in any way, and the colors associated with them are actually reversed; Felt's normal outfit includes a blue overshirt, while Viese typically capers around in a maroon dress.
More standard example is the Azoths. The Azure Azoth is good while the Crimson Azoth is evil. And the Big Bad of the game, no less.
Rewarding Vandalism: You'll be stealing from a lot of barrels, and extracting elements from a lot of other things across the game.
Sealed Evil in a Can: Eden and the powers of Mana and alchemy were sealed off in a pocket dimension to prevent alchemy being used for war again in the wider world of Belkhyde. Neither Eden, alchemy, nor the Mana are evil, but, well, power corrupts.
She Cleans Up Nicely: Noin, already something of an Unkempt Beauty and Ms. Fanservice, gets a brief makeover. She lets her hair down, wears a shoulder-baring (among other things) Little Black Dress, and gets her makeup done. Everyone is gobsmacked. It doesn't do much to change her behavior after the initial embarrassment wears off, though.
Spell My Name with an "S": When she was debuted in Japan Viese's name caused a lot of linguistic contortion in trying to spell her name in English; Japanese lacks both a true V sound and a construct used like the English "ie", so what most people ended up with was some variation of "Wisey". This still occasionally trips people up when they encounter early promotional material (or when they encounter certain hardcorefans).
Stealth Pun: Eden is an artificial world maintained by an alchemic machine called the Gardo Continental Drive. In other words, the Gardo of Eden.
Stripperiffic: Viese is one of the Atelier heroines who very much avoids this trap; if anything she's the franchise's most conservatively-dressed heroine, almost to the point of absurdity for her native climate (two or more layers of clothing for a paradise island that's apparently warm-temperate year-round?) Noin on the other hand...
Sword Beam: Some of Felt's skills send a blast of energy from the Azoth to strike multiple enemies.
Take Your Time: Handwaved in the case of Fee's poisoning. The healer in Max's camp can keep her stable indefinitely, they just can't fully cure her.
Tech Points: Some items have "Secret Factors," or skills you can use while equipped. You learn the skills permanently once you earn enough skill points from battle. Different characters may have different skill point costs to learn the same skill (such as the Damask Ring's "Defense Up" passive boost, which takes 350 SP for Felt but 550 for Noin). Generally, weapons teach you new active skills while alchemy items teach new passives.
Underrated And Overleveled: Averted with your last party member Viese, who joins at the third to last chapter at level ONE. Somewhat justified since the plot of the chapter she joins is to backtrack to previous areas.
Unwitting Pawn: Chaos, who is actually being manipulated by his Azoth, Palaxius, with his hope of resurrecting his sister.
Useless Useful Spell: The Item Wish item, which can instantly kill enemies by turning them into rare items. But with a poor success rate and only a few very weak enemies, generally found in the first few dungeons and which you can kill with one regular hit almost from the start of the game. You still need it to gather some of those items, so it's more like grinding for Random Drops by paying elements.