Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland is the 13th entry of the Atelier series and the last part of the Arland trilogy. The player controls Meruru, the princess of the Arls kingdom who rather would become the apprentice of Totori, the heroine of the predecessor. However, her father has steep demands: she only gets to keep learning alchemy when she manages to develop Arls so it can become a part of Arland.
The game takes place over a span of three years and after each year, the progress (population and expansion) is measured against a set of goals. The way to fulfill those requirements is by participating in typical RPG activities: taking on quests, traveling to more or less far away places over a world map (additional locations open up over time) and fighting enemies. Besides the required tasks, there are also a number of optional quests and boss battles. When the time comes to expand Arls, Meruru gets to choose which building to construct next. Each building rewards a different permanent bonus, but at the end of the game, every building will be built if the highest expansion rate is reached.
Like all games in the series, the focus is on alchemy: much time is spent with acquiring ingredients to craft items like armor, weapons or other specialities. The only way to get those items is by using the predefined recipes because merchants only sell ingredients – the better quality they have, the better the item becomes. While in hostile zones, Meruru and her adventurer party will run into enemies which have to be defeated in standard turn-based battles. While her two companions utilize the usual mix between physical attacks and magic, Meruru is the only one who can use items. There is no permanent death: when all party members are defeated, they will wake up a few days later at home.
The main problem with this is that every action takes up a certain amount of time. There are different endings which depend on Meruru’s success in her mandatory and optional goals.