Atelier Sophie is a game about crafting and using crafted items to win combats to gather more materials for crafting. The main plot follows Sophie's attempts to help a magical talking book regain its memories; the more recipes she discovers and writes into the book, the more memories return to it. This is basically an excuse to find (and craft) as many things as possible.
Crafting is the source of all consumables and advanced weapons/armor in the game. Crafting essentially boils down to:
- Selecting which materials to use as ingredients.
- Choosing which alchemy pot to use, with different ones offering different advantages.
- Placing materials on the Alchemy Grid to gather sparkles for Effect points.
- Selecting up to 3 traits from the ingredients to transfer to the new item.
Crafted items have 3 main properties:
- Effects: Determines the base strengths of an item, such as healing/damage done, resistances offered, and even auto-activations/revives. Effects usually get stronger the more Effect points they have, although some change function entirely. Effects are unique to each item and can't be transferred to other items.
- Traits: Determines bonus properties of an item, from +% Healing to increased stats to curing debuffs when consumed. Unlike Effects, up to 3 traits can be transferred from an item's ingredients to the item itself. Certain traits can be merged into stronger traits; the strongest traits in each category usually require merging 4-8 different traits.
- Quality: Determines selling price, influences effectiveness, etc. Exact effect looks vaguely minor; Effects & Traits are probably more important for most things.
All items also have a size, shape, and color that determines their shape on the Alchemy Grid. The highest color ratios on the Alchemy Grid get a bonus to Effect points, encouraging occasional size/shape tweaking.
Early in the game, the player gains access to Corneria, who slowly duplicates (almost) any items Registered to her for a price. This makes it easy to craft 1 exceptional bag of flour and duplicate it for extra uses, rather than having to craft new flour everytime.
New materials are found primarily by gathering them from combat maps. Defeating an enemy group will refresh one gathering spot. Gathering enough items, or defeating enough enemies, will increase the enemy difficulty (and ingredient quality). Leaving the map will reset its difficulty level.
Atelier Sophie uses a turn-based combat system. A timeline of turns is posted on the left, showing which characters act when. Spells and abilities take longer to do than items & basic attacks, while the Guard action takes no time. In addition to the usual Attack/Guard/Magic/Items/Run commands, each player character chooses whether to be in Offensive or Defensive Stance. Characters in Offensive stance do more damage and follow-up teammates' attacks with their own, while characters in Defensive stance take less damage and can block attacks from hitting teammates. Once the ChainLink gauge reaches 200%+, special attack/guard combos can be done if enough teammates are in the proper stance.
Enemies have a Burst meter that slowly fills up during the fight. Once it's maxed out, a WARNING sign appears next to the enemy icon, signaling it will release a massive attack during its next round. PCs may have to switch to Defensive stances to survive it.
All characters, player and enemy alike, have a Break gauge. Each attack against them raises their Break gauge; when it maxes out, they are stunned for a turn and every attack against them is an automatic critical hit.
Consumables are the player's main source of healing and the largest attacks in the game. Most consumables can only be used by certain characters. Past a certain point, Corneria will refill consumables' charges for a price.
Atelier Sophie is set in the lands surrounding Kirchen Bell, a small fantasy medieval village. Although most of the areas look mostly untouched by human hands, there are several ruins from violent calamities in the past.