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Video Game / Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book

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The title character, Sophie Neuenmuller.

It's not always about saving the world.
— Tagline on the box

Atelier Sophie is the seventeenth main game in the Atelier series and the first game in the Mysterious subseries. Taking place in the town of Kirchen Bell, novice alchemist Sophie with a reputation for being rather poor at her craft due to having no guidance or teacher. After finally succeeding at synthesizing a common medicine, Sophie goes to write the recipe down in a reference book inherited from her grandmother, only for the book to suddenly come to life after she writes the recipe inside its pages. The book only remembers her name: Plachta. Sophie and Plachta discover that as Sophie records recipes in Plachta's pages, her memories return, causing Plachta to tell her about a cauldron that can allow anyone to perform fantastic alchemy. As Sophie wants to become an alchemist on the level of her grandmother, she eagerly works to restore Plachta's memories to eventually claim it for herself with Plachta mentoring the fledgling alchemist in her craft. Sophie is aided by her close friends, Monika Ellmenreich and Oskar Behlmer along with a colorful cast of companions who join Sophie as her allies as her quest to find the cauldron and restore Plachta brings the whole world into peril...

The first Atelier title to be released on the PlayStation 4 and for Steam as well as the last for the PlayStation 3 (in Japan). Much like Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea before it, Atelier Sophie has no time limit unlike the previous Dusk and Arland titles. Instead, the game has five-day weeks, three weekdays and two weekend days, that control events in the town and affect the locations and events of characters in the town of Kirchen bell. In addition, each day now has a day/night cycle allowing for events to shift throughout each day and change shop listings, enemies, and harvest locations.

Starting with Sophie, the alchemy system also got a major overhaul - synthesis now involves a Tetris-like mini-game of placing the ingredients into the cauldron to create and merge desired effects. This system would be carried over and expanded upon in the next two titles in the Mysterious trilogy. In addition, Sophie now learns recipes by performing actions in the world such as gathering new materials, synthesizing certain items, or unlocking certain events in the storyline.

The game was released in Japan on November 19, 2015 for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Play Station Vita. The PlayStation 4 and Play Station Vita versions were released in North America on June 7, 2016 and Europe on June 10, 2016, followed by a later worldwide release on Steam on February 7, 2017. An Updated Re-release featuring a brand new episode came out on April 22, 2021 as part of a Compilation Rerelease of the Mysterious trilogy, which also brought game to the Nintendo Switch for the first time.

On October 2, 2021, a direct sequel, Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream, was announced. It was released on February 2022 worldwide for the PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam. It is set some time between the events of the first game and Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey.

Tropes in this game

  • Ambiguously Christian: The game's characters go to church and pray to a singular God, and some NPCs are nuns. Whether the dominant religion of the setting is Anime Catholicism, or a Fantasy Counterpart Culture that just happens to closely resemble it, is not clear.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: The book Plachta floats and talks.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Corneria provides the option to both duplicate any item and to refill consumables used in the field upon returning to town. These services save a ton of time that would otherwise be spent farming for materials with specific traits and chain-synthesizing just to recreate the same crafting materials and battle items.
  • Badass Adorable: Sophie is a cute girl who likes doing cute things and has a perpetually sunny disposition. She's also a skilled mage and a master alchemist, and she can make and throw bombs that are powerful enough to kill dragons and demon lords.
  • Bamboo Technology: The Uni Bag is a bag filled with gunpowder and Unis, which are a kind of spiny fruit. It's the weakest available bomb, but still invaluable in the early game.
  • Battle Theme Music: The game has a novel way of having multiple theme songs: it changes based on your party's level relative to the strength of the monsters. Harder monsters have tense music while easier monsters have upbeat music.
  • Bonus Boss: Most bosses in the game are bonus bosses, usually unlocked through Rumors. Some become available after the end of the game, both inside and outside the Bonus Dungeon, and several recipes require you to defeat some of them.
  • Bonus Dungeon: After beating the final boss, you can download the additional map "Hidden Archive," which contains high quality materials to gather, and tougher enemies to guard them. (Tormented Beast says hello!).
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • Well Water is free and easy to grab whenever you're at the atelier. It's also decent-quality water, and while it doesn't have any special traits, it makes excellent filler in a recipe.
    • Most store-bought materials are likewise excellent filler for when you have the traits you want and don't need anything more expensive.
    • The Expert Cauldron doesn't really do much with color effects (very helpful when making top-quality items for use), and its time limit makes it tricky to build complex items with. But it has more raw quality-enhancing power than any other cauldron in the game, and when you're making intermediate materials (for example, metal or gunpowder), material placement doesn't matter much - only the items' traits, and raw quality.
  • Boss in Mook's Clothing: Super Punis always have boss theme music, have enough HP to tank even level 20 parties and are immune to One Hit Kill effects.
  • Break Meter: Enemies and party members are both vulnerable to Break, and when Broken are unable to act as well as being more vulnerable. The Break Meter fills from being attacked, and special attacks fill it more quickly. The visible Break Meter is a small progress bar under the icons on the Visual Initiative Queue.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The main cast is full of personality quirks, but they also represent some of the heights of talent in their respective fields/hobbies, such as Leon being a top fashion designer or Fritz possessing the skills of a master swordsman and puppeteer.
  • Cartoon Bomb: The basic bomb is a red-and-green sphere with a skull on it and a wick coming out the top.
  • Cast from Hit Points: The Adrenaline Rush trait, which is found in Fire Dragon Medicine: "Deals huge damage to the target, but massively increases base damage on the next turn."
  • Chain of Deals: Some synthesis recipes can require you to do other syntheses first, which themselves may have more synths as a requirement: the "Recipe Ideas" screen sometimes says that you can get the idea for Item A by making Item B with Trait C, but you may have to go through several levels of synthesis to get Trait C into Item B, and the farther back you have to go, the less obvious the route can be.
  • Comes Great Responsibility: When Plachta takes Sophie to the Scar of the Land, she's planning to give Sophie a speech to this effect. She realizes very quickly that she doesn't need to; Sophie gladly uses her alchemy to help others.
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: If you craft together enough items which boost the Critical Hit chance, you will get the One-Hit Kill trait. The description says "Effect: Item will always critical hit, and KO target (bosses excluded)."
  • Covers Always Lie: Remember the tagline at the top of the page? Actually, Sophie and Plachta do need to deal with a rogue alchemist whose use of Ablation Alchemy is a major threat to the ecosystem.
  • Cute Slime Mook: Punis make a return in this entry and are both adorable and act as the easy beginner area mooks.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Party members who fall in battle come back with one hit point afterwards. If the whole party falls, they respawn back at base, minus some collected items.
  • Difficulty Levels: Difficulty settings are, in order of difficulty:
    • Easy
    • Normal
    • Hard
    • Despair
  • Disc-One Nuke: The Huge Puni Outbreak rumor gives you access to a Gold Puni way earlier than usual. Kill one Gold Puni encounter on Despair difficulty (not hard even in the early game) and you have all the Cole you can possibly use this early. Among other things, this allows you to make or buy gifts in bulk, or use Cornelia's duplication shop much more freely, giving you an early leg up.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Leon's name is an abbreviation of her surname. She doesn't like being called by any part of her full name, Amelia Leonmeyer, because it reminds her of an empty victory in her past.
  • Effortless Achievement: Many Trophies are gained by progressing through the game, and some others are trivially easy. For example, there is a Trophy for looking at barrels. There are some barrels right outside Sophie's front door.
  • Exponential Potential: Item Crafting ingredients belong to classes (e.g. Plant, Animal, Ore, Secret Power), and have Traits (e.g. Quality Up, Critical, Speed. There are dozens more). Ingredients can belong to more than one class (e.g. animal fur belongs to Animal and Thread) and can have up to three Traits. Traits come in different strengths and can be combined to form more powerful versions of those Traits. You can craft your first and second level ingredients to make higher level items with greatly varying attributes (e.g. a metal with high attack powers for making weapons, and the same metal with high defense powers for making armour). The whole process is not conceptually hard, but if you want to take full advantage of it, then you'll probably need to keep a pen and paper handy to keep track of everything.
  • Extended Gameplay: After beating the final boss you can learn all the Item Crafting recipes that you have not yet learned, hunt for bonus bosses, and clear up unearned Trophies.
  • For Happiness: Quite a few characters want to use their talents to make others happy, but only Sophie remembers that from the beginning. Plachta forgets it literally, and Leon and Luard forget it figuratively.
  • Gender-Blender Name: One female character is called Leon. Not Leonie or Leona, Leon. Eventually you learn it's actually an abbreviation of her real name, Amelia Leonmeyer.
  • The Glasses Come Off: Sophie thinks Elise is really pretty without her glasses. Too bad she's Blind Without 'Em.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • Pay close attention if the game says anything about the Chain and Max Damage stats that appear during fights: the help files don't mention them. note 
    • The help files also say nothing about the stats for Max & Min Damage, Attack, Defense and Speed, and how they do or do not affect battles.
    • The game tells you about Break status, but does not tell you anything about the Break Meter (see above).
    • Curious about the different coloured location markers on the world map? You'll find them in the help file entry about Requests And Rumours.
    • Unlocking recipes requires you to meet some sort of requirement, be it making an item with a certain trait or talking with someone. Good luck trying to figure out what it means when it's vague. One of them is also not correct.
  • Harder Than Hard: Despair difficulty is above Hard difficulty.
  • Harmony Versus Discipline: Normal alchemy requires listening to the objects involved, working with their nature, and making them into something that they want to be made into, while Ablation Alchemy simply changes things, drawing upon and exhausting nature's power to make wondrous transformations far more quickly and easily than the regular style. Plachta admits that Ablation Alchemy is probably more useful if used carefully, but the villain doesn't care about responsible use, only about power.
  • Healer Signs On Early: There are no Healer characters, but Sophie uses Item Crafting to make healing items, and making a low level potion is one of the first side quests. She can also equip them, which is not possible for some of the other party members.
  • Heroic Fantasy: Far closer to this than the Low Fantasy of most Atelier series. The alchemy in this game involves soul transference and Artificial Humans, and despite what the tagline on the box says, the final plot is about Saving the World by winning a boss fight over control of an artifact of wondrous power. Sophie is an adventurer as much as an alchemist, and many of the quests are standard JRPG fare instead of Item Crafting.
  • Hit Points: Shown beside the Life Meters for both enemies and the party.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: The Ancient Cauldron. It does most everything other cauldrons do (except failure is possible), though it's slightly less powerful quality-wise than the Expert Cauldron. You can only find it after beating the final boss.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: Time advances when you do things, e.g. gathering materials or travelling or synthesising items. There is a day-night cycle and a week of five days. Shops close at night, and monsters may change according to the time of day.
  • Item Crafting: Like all entries in the series, making new tools through alchemy is the cornerstone of the gameplay.
  • It's the Journey That Counts: Sophie wants to be a great alchemist, and Plachta reveals to her that the Cauldron of Knowledge will allow her to become one. You can see where this is going: In the end, Sophie doesn't get the Cauldron. However, to get to the end of the quest, she had to study and become a great alchemist anyway.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Harol, particularly when he flat out refuses to make springs for Plachta's doll but changes his mind when Sophie says "You're the only one I can rely on."
  • Jumped at the Call: When Sophie hears that Plachta has lost her memories, her response is to get to work and learn alchemy so that Plachta can get them back.
  • Life Meter: There are red life bars in the battle screen, for the party and the enemies.
  • Lucky Charms Title: The game's official title, which appears on your gaming device, is Atelier Sophie ~The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book~. This wiki uses the style with a colon to be consistent with the other titles in the series.
  • Magic Cauldron: Like other entries in the series, large cauldrons are used when performing alchemy. This game takes it even further by allowing you to find and upgrade cauldrons with specific uses.
  • Modesty Shorts: All girls wearing skirts or dresses have bike shorts underneath them, unlike previous entries where they wore bloomers.
  • Mundane Utility: Played for laughs in the flavor text of Fritz’s tier 3 weapon, Demon God Slayer.
    Fritz: “These swords are...”
    Sophie: “Wow, it cut that paper so easily!”
    Fritz: “...To think you’d use a famed sword said to be so sharp that it could slay demon gods, to cut mere paper...”
  • Mythology Gag: Logy from Esca and Logy and Pamela Ibis make an appearance in the game as NPCs in the town of Kirchen Bell.
  • Notice This: Collectable materials are shown by a glowing light, and by a green dot on the mini map. Various icons show if you can interact with people or things.
  • NPC Scheduling: Shops are closed at night (except for the café) and the café has a different waitress on the weekend.
  • Palette Swap:
    • Minor NPCs in the town — a few models with different coloured clothes.
    • Used a lot for monsters. The different colours do not represent different strengths though: for example the weakest Puni is blue, the weakest Ghost is white (with a blue hat), and the weakest Beast is brown and black.
  • Pitiful Worms: As you begin the battle with Luard, he declares "I possess the greatest knowledge in the world. Insects like you cannot stop me."
  • Plant Person: Oskar claims to be able to talk to plants. It seems to be true as of the end of his quest.
  • Plot-Triggering Book: Sophie encounters a mystical sentient book called Plachta, who has lost almost all of the memories contained in her pages. Sophie then is determined to recover Plachta's former human form and her memories.
  • Piñata Enemy: Most enemies drop little to no Cole, but Gold Punis drop huge amounts and are relatively easy to defeat. Farming them is one of the few ways to make money quickly.
  • Post-End Game Content: There's the Bonus Dungeon, "Hidden Archive," and there's also a free bridging DLC that clears up why Sophie and Plachta are involved in Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey, and how they made the atelier tent.
  • Previous Player-Character Cameo: A version of this with the blacksmith Logy, who is an alternate universe version of the same character from Atelier Escha & Logy. This version of the character is not an alchemist. He also has the same voice actor as the previous incarnation of the character in both the Japanese and English language tracks.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: For a doll who allegedly has no sense of taste, Plachta sure has an appetite for strawberries.
  • Right Makes Might: After you have beaten the boss, Plachta tells him that Sophie won because she wanted to use alchemy to help people, while the boss only wanted to use alchemy to help himself.
  • Running Gag: The "Barrel!" gag makes a return. In this game, having Sophie yell at the barrels will actually earn you an achievement (which is an Effortless Achievement, as the barrels are right there from the start).
  • Shout-Out: Harol's Offensive 300% Chain special, which has him freeze time and surround the target with throwing knives, is suspiciously similar to an attack performed by Dio Brando in part 3 of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: On the idealistic end, as one would expect for an Atelier game. That said, Plachta's a bit of a cynic, and she is not wrong in her cynicism: the ending does have Sophie and Plachta kill Luard, albeit not permanently. In this world, Right Makes Might, but you do need to use your power to achieve your goals.
  • Sliding Scale of Linearity vs. Openness: It's either a high 4 or a low 5. You unlock areas and sometimes recipe hints by following the story, but aside from that, you're mostly running around Kirchen Bell and its environment doing quests, crafting items and developing your alchemy.
  • Small Town Boredom: Kirchen Bell is described as a remote town in the country. It's the only town that appears on the map and its only notable feature for attracting visitors is its church.
  • Spoiler Cover: If you have looked at the cover of the boxed game (or browsed DLC for the digital version) then you will know that Plachta acquires a human form. They do at least remain silent about how and when.
  • Stance System: Party members can take an Offensive or Defensive stance in battles:
    • Offensive does more damage, and performs bonus attacks.
    • Defensive does less damage, but can block enemy attacks.
    • Two or more characters in the same stance can combine to perform powerful offensive or defensive actions, depending on the Chain gauge.
  • Stripperiffic: Several female characters show more skin than you might expect for fantasy Renaissance Europe:
    • Marguerite the fruit and veg seller wears a bikini top and a wrap-around skirt that leaves her right leg bare.
    • Plachta's human form seems to be dressed by Victoria's Secret.
  • Take Over the World:
    • In the Latter Days DLC, when Meklet and Atomina tell Sophie that they're going to go on a trip and she asks about where they're going, they suggest that they might take over the world. They quickly admit that they're joking, though, as they know that Sophie would just defeat them again if they tried.
    • The story itself specifically averts this, with the game's Tagline noting "It's not always about saving the world."
  • Take Your Time: Played straight on the large scale, averted on the small scale.
    • The game does not have an overall time limit. When the boss Luard appears, there is no rush to take him on (which is a good thing, because he's quite hard and you may need to level up a bit).
    • Side quests sometimes have to be completed by a particular time of day or day of the week. Rumours that you buy are on a hidden timer, and expire if you don't investigate them soon enough.
    • Sophie can overhear a conversation in which Horst and Marguerite say that a problem is urgent, but Pamela replies that it can wait.
  • Talk to Everyone: The help files tell you to frequently visit the town and talk to people, especially if they are not in their usual locations.
  • That Came Out Wrong: When Fritz comes into the atelier at one point, he asks if he can examine Plachta's body. ...He meant that he wanted to give her a checkup and some maintenance.
  • Training the Gift of Magic: Alchemists have to have The Gift, but it's useless without study and practice. The Cauldron of Knowledge bypasses both of these requirements; an alchemist without the Gift can use it to perform alchemy, and an incompetent like Sophie could create great works without developing the required knowledge.
  • Trauma Inn: LP and HP are refilled by returning to Kirchen Bell, which drops you at the atelier. You don't even have to sleep if you arrive during the day.
  • To Be a Master: This is not Sophie's motivation; she wants to learn alchemy so she can use it to help people, not for its own sake. Though at the end, she takes on the goal of surpassing Plachta. The character whose motivations most closely resemble this is Luard, the villain, who wants to master the power of alchemy and doesn't care who gets hurt by his actions.
  • Turn-Based Combat: Although most Atelier games use a Combatant Cooldown System, this one switches to a system where each character acts once per turn. It still retains some aspects of the past system, such as the fact that some actions are slower than others, causing a fighter to act later in the turn.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: The Bonus Boss Tormented Beast can be this. Tormented Beast has a very high Healing Factor, but cannot kill the entire party in one round. If the party have strong resurrection items it is possible to get stuck in a loop where the boss cannot kill the party, but the party cannot harm the boss faster than he heals himself. You cannot run away from boss fights, so the only way out is to force close the game. Hint: level up your weapons first and give them the No Heal trait.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: This is zigzagged with Plachta. The reaction of some upon first meeting a talking book is shock and surprise, others have almost no reaction. This is also somewhat justified given the world that Sophie lives in. Fritz, for example, barely bats an eye, noting that he's seen many unusual things in his travels.
  • Villain Has a Point: Plachta admits that Ablation Alchemy is probably stronger and more useful than her and Sophie's alchemy, if used carefully, which the villain isn't concerned with. Afterwards, this is ignored, and Ablation Alchemy is treated as wrong in itself, rather than dangerous and being misused.
  • Visual Initiative Queue: In combat, the left side of the screen shows the order in which combatants will act during the turn. Picking slower actions might force you to act last­.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You: Averted. Sophie must be in the party, but if she goes down in battle then the others can go on without her.
  • You Can Talk?: Sophie's reaction upon returning to her atelier at the beginning of the game and having the book (Plachta) talk to her.
    Sophie: Whaaaaat!? The book...! The book is talking!?
    Book: Please just calm down. People are able to talk. It's not strange for a book to talk too.

Alternative Title(s): Atelier Sophie