So yeah, I did get Atelier Ayesha Plus. It is much like Totori - very much like Totori, to my palette. Veterans of the series are able to mark minute changes from game to game - Ayesha is apparently darker in tone than the rest of the series - but it's just as sweet and pretty and colourful as the last Atelier game I played, and what gameplay changes have been made are obfuscated by the nearly-two-years that have passed between now and then.
I was humming and hawwing over it - should I really play this instead of Danganronpa, which is on sale this week for a mere twenty dollars? (Answer: I should put another $20 on my PSN account and just get Danganronpa - but I won't, cause I'm trying to save money and I'm still drowning in games.)
What pushed me over the edge was a forumer who quoted an excellent description of what an Atelier game is, and who you play as - the origins of which have been lost to the sands of time, so I feel I'm free to paraphrase it here:
"You know how in most RPGs, you play as the chosen one, guided by destiny and plot armor to pull together an elite band of super-people and save the very fabric of reality from the forces of darkness, 'cause the world's about to end?
This game is not about those guys.
You know how in most RPGs, you get to the very last dungeon - fighting your way tooth and nail through the worst horrors of the universe - and you'll find a shopkeeper sitting there? All cheery and glad to see you? And she's got the best healing potions in the game and the best armor and the best weapons for sale and it's like the Superfriends and I just cut our way through the Gauntlet of Unending Sorrows and it nearly killed us - how the hell did you get in here?!
This game is about her. And she's got her own thing goin' on."
To directly quote that dear forumer:
In Ayesha you play a dedicated and determined and extremely girly (one of the "girliest" protagonists in the series) alchemist on a mission to save her Sister who she find's out is trapped in a spirit realm and not actually dead. She packs nearly her entire cottage's worth of luggage and equipment on to her cute and dependable pet cow and sets out on a journey to find answers on how to save her sister.... meeting and befriending a large cast of insane, eccentric, (and adorable) chucklefucks along the way."
When Wilbell throws down with one of her special moves, she doesn't just toss a spell at an enemy. She slaps her oversized hat to the ground and dances around it like a maniac before pulling a pumpkin bomb out of it to be lobbed into a group of enemies. When Regina is called upon for a sneak attack follow-up to one of your strikes, she tosses down a smoke bomb to reappear behind your chosen foe, crashing into them pickaxe-first (just like Mel did in Totori) with a satisfying wham!
As RPGs go, it's... frothy. Effervescent. It is the RPG equivalent of a really nice salad - just pleasant and light and full of flavour, and you can't feel guilty about it until some jerk wants to know why you're not eating a steak. 'Cause I feel good about this salad, and it's delicious, that's why.
Yeah, this was a good call.