Good lord, amazing how a small developer goes from 2D sprites to the functional 3D of Rorona improving on each subsequent game and now it has come to this! The game looks really good, I certainly love what I'm seeing.
Like you said, I appreciate the fog and somewhat darker muddier tone, if anything just to make a contrast with the colorful Arland saga.
Now, about the release date, I've heard Meruru is coming to the west soon, so maybe they plan to make the gap between the releases a little shorter, which is good but if there's one thing I wouldn't like to see is another Atelier game getting a release date here on October/November. It's like unless you're expecting the game chances are you won't even hear about it.
This week I was playing Totori while connected to the PSN and a random guy on my friend's list came to ask me what is Totori about, if maybe he would like it. Turns out he's a fan of RPGs with exploration and synthesis but he haven't heard about, just was surprised to see I was playing a game with a different name.
Anyway, let's hope this one is not too far away!