Game Review - Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm on Playstation 2

Written by therewerebells on August 03, 2018 @ 10:04 pm

If you're like me, you see a game rated below a 7, a score of Good on MVGL, and you're willing to give the game that benefit of the doubt. You think there's no way the game in question can be that bad, that people are just exaggerating, their feelings have been influenced by the general perception of a game, or they just plain can't see the latent value in the game-- a whole host of excuses that you somehow believe you will be "above" or "better than."

Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm is not a game you give the benefit of the doubt. Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm is a game that deserves every less-than-stellar review it gets, every poor rating, every score below 7, every complaint and every criticism.
On the surface, this game is fine-- maybe even good, deceptively so. It's when you keep playing it-- and keep playing it-- that its faults come to the surface. The game is divided into ten chapters; the main party of three, comprised of Edge, Iris, and Nell, progress through the main storyline by completing a series of quests for a guild. Once a certain amount of quests are completed, a "mission" starts, halting your progress on all in-progress quests. Once the mission is complete, the player progresses to the next chapter, opening up more quests. This style of play is excessively boring, repetitive, and monotonous. If I sat down to play this game for more than a few hours at a time, I either lost focus extremely easily or became a vegetable on my couch, unable to do anything but this game. It never deviates from this style of play, and the quests you're asked to complete have no relation to the main storyline. Only the missions were related to the actual plot, but since they were separated by the quests with no correlation, the storyline was extremely forgettable and ridiculously hard to follow. In addition, this game took me 40 hours to complete; I would maybe have been less mad at it if the game were short-- think of the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series, which have a similar style of progression and are completed with an average of 20 hours of gameplay (although it's not a direct comparison, as the quests are more closely related to the main storyline and are therefore much harder to ask yourself "Why the hell am I wasting my time on this?" about).

Every aspect of the game is incessantly and annoyingly mediocre. From the main characters to the voice-acting to the gameplay, there's not a single thing that stands out-- either as good or bad. This is where the "deceptively good" nature of this truly and utterly mediocre game shines: everything about the game is fine. I toyed with the idea of giving it a 6 because of this for the longest time, but I have never, ever seen a game so set in wallowing in its undeniable mediocrity, leading me to the final score of 5-- Playable-- that I gave it. Every concept in this game is a missed opportunity. A battle system based on cards? Why not run with the idea like in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, instead of not utilizing the imagery at all like in Atelier Iris 3? It's baffling. An NPC who falls in love with a ghost? Why not make it a tragedy in which the alive person realizes that their love can never be, adding some much-needed depth to the game? A war fought solely because of a misunderstanding? Why, for the love of an actually good game like Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny, did the main characters not simply clear up the misunderstanding? A main party of three who switches between outfits that give them different styles of play? Somehow, Final Fantasy X-2 of all games does this better, allowing the main characters to switch between classes in-battle, making it both a blast to play and able to seamlessly avoid any annoyances like enemies that are resistant to certain types of damage-- comparatively, Atelier Iris 3's class-changing mechanics are inconvenient at best. A high-level guild member who is slightly villainous, yet is allowed to remain in the clearly good-aligned guild? I honestly don't even have a counterpoint to this one. It just doesn't make any sense to me. Everything about this game is ridiculous and barely scratches the surface of what it could have been. Or was it just destined to always be mediocre? Who knows. Certainly not me, writing this review for an audience of only 22 other people who've had the misfortune of completing this game.

In closing, this is my first review because I've never felt strongly enough about a video game to be able to type a full review for it. Somehow, defying all odds, Atelier Iris 3 was that game for me. I hope everyone reads this review and no one has to suffer through it like me (and the at least 22 other people who played it before me) ever again. I am the empty husk of a woman I once was, before I played Atelier Iris 3. Who was that woman? Will I be able to find her again? I'm not sure. Atelier Iris 3 has broken my spirit. Don't waste your time on this game. Please just play Atelier Iris 2 or something.

Gameplay Rating: 6
Story Rating: 4
Graphics & Visuals Rating: 6
Sound Rating: 5
Overall Rating: 4

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Game Information

Alternative Titles
Iris no Atelier: Grand Fantasm, イリスのアトリエ グランファンタズム
Platform
Playstation 2
Developer(s)
Gust Co. Ltd.
Publisher(s)
NIS America
Genre(s)
RPG
NA Release Date
May 29, 2007
JP Release Date
June 29, 2006
EUR Release Date
August 3, 2007
AUS Release Date
July 26, 2007
ESRB Rating
T
PEGI Rating
12+
CERO Rating
A
ACB Rating
PG
MVGL User Score
6.8
Composer
Ken Nakagawa
Official Website
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