Atelier titles have become like cult games in the past years mainly because the low number of copies available worldwide and the huge decline of JRPG players this gaming generation has been seeing, but if a fourth game in the series has been released in the PS3 it must be because it's doing good economically. Atelier Ayesha is a completely new series, not connected in any way with the Arland trilogy that came before it.
Like the the Arland trilogy (Rorona, Totori and Meruru), the main protagonist is a very cute young girl named Ayesha with alchemy abilities beyond her own awareness that works in a workshop selling medicine she makes herself in a cauldron. Her little sister named Nio disappeared three years ago but in a visit to some old ruins, Ayesha sees her in an illusion and decides to set out in a journey to learn alchemy and bring her back.
After that, Ayesha will star exploring small dungeons, towns, meeting people and fulfilling requests from them and of course, making friends to form parties for battles. Gameplay-wise, it's very similar in many aspects to Rorona (the only past game I played). It uses a nice turn-based battle system and each character has his/her own abilities, skills and traits. There are thousands of alchemy items to collect and recipes to make. Ayesha can have several "bases" around to worldmap she can use to make alchemy depending on where she's traveling to. This allows her to avoid going to the same town over and over in a single playthrough.
The only "negative" thing is that it still uses the time-limit system where traveling, harvesting items and doing things with alchemy spends days in a three-year limit the game puts into the player at the beginning. The story claims that Ayesha has three years to learn enough alchemy to save Nio and though this systemopens the possibility of several different endings and ways to play, it really cuts the freedom of play in other ways. I'm still in the beginning, having only played around four hours but I'm liking it. This isn't near the level of Ni No Kuni or Xenoblade, much less Persona 4 Golden but it's a good RPG so far. I recommend it.