Two years ago, the release of the first Atelier Iris release was a breath of fresh air, introducing players to an airy RPG romp and an unfamiliar game style. A year after that, we got Atelier Iris 2, and a year after that, we get Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm. The returns are diminishing. While Atelier Iris 3 has some interesting gameplay systems, they're hardly worth putting up with the rest of the game for.
Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm is the tale of Edge and Iris, a team of Raiders in the city of Zey Meruze. As Raiders, Edge and Iris complete quests in dimensions known as "alterworlds" to earn a living, but suddenly find themselves caught up in events that threaten to destroy everything. It turns out that Iris has inherited the powerful magical tome Libram Escalario and must collect eight gems to unlock its power before the bad guys do. It takes effort to come up with story and characters this banal and overused, and while the previous games had some clever characters and dialog to make their generic stories easier to swallow, little of that charm is present here.
And so begins the pageant of mediocrity that is the latest Atelier game. You'll run around the alterworlds completing missions for money and prizes, you'll create a variety of items with alchemy, and you'll fight countless monsters in turn-based RPG battles. With the exception of the increased focus on repetition, it's largely the same as the last two Atelier Iris games, except not as good.