I am a big fan of the Atelier series and this is definitely a very solid entry into the series. It has the enjoyable hallmark mechanic of material gathering, alchemy and turn-based system but it also gives you the task of cultivating barren lands, which feels very satisfying. The story, characters and graphics are charming too. While the main story part is relatively easy, the post-game stuff, which is accessible via free DLC and is called Machina Domain, is very challenging and it forces you to put your best alchemical skills to the test. Also the game is very cheap now (12 pounds at the time of writing this review).
I'm biased as a fan of the series. There are a more user friendly features like saving on the world map, larger container to store stuff. Lots of excellent charming and funny cutscenes. My favourite characters are back, Rorona and Sterkenburg, Esty and Hagel Bold the weaponsmith.not forgetting Totori the perfect teacher of Alchemy. As well as new ones of course Mereru the pincess is feisty but not spoiled and has a very positive personality and her best friend the perfect maid Keina. I especially loved the battle music theme and the over the top special attack animations.
Without a doubt the best of the three Arland games, one can see the increasing polish as one goes along. You should still ideally play Rorona and Totori first so you can get the references, but Meruru is an excellent stand-alone game for the budding alchemist in you.