Ar Tonelico is a turn-based, 2D JRPG with a dabbling of dating-sim type gameplay added in. Magic in the setting is controlled via songs sung by female characters called Rayvateil. Songs are gained by "diving" into a Rayvateil's subconscious and proceeding through a series of story dialogues. Items and equipment are creating using the "Grathmelding" system - an alchemical merging of components and other items earned from battles or purchased from shops. Navigating the world is managed by selecting from discovered locations on a 3D rendered map. Cities and other "friendy" areas are explored by selecting from a list of available locales; hostile regions consist of a series of 2D rooms.
The game follows the story of Lyner Barsett, a Knight of Elemia charged with protecting the world from "Viruses", mysterious virtual entities capable of manifesting as monsters in the human realm. Faced with a threat able to overcome the Elemian defenses, Lyner is sent from his home at the top of the tower in the center of the world to the floating continent below, tasked to find the sacred Hymn Crystal Purger. Exploring a world vastly different from his own, Lyner's quest involves recruiting new allies, overcoming new enemies, and finding a way to save his home, and the entire world, from a threat which seeks to destroy all of humanity.
From the packaging:
Use the art of "Grathmelding" - A massive item creation system that allows you to develop and customise new items. Unleash "Song Magic" - Use the power of Songs to heal your friends and defeat your enemies. Intimate "Dive System" - Interact with your team members in a private digital world. Expansive and futuristic world - Eplore the beauty and elegance of the Tower of Ar Tonelico, a world unlike any other.