In Atelier Annie: Alchemist of Sera Island, you play Annie, the lazy granddaughter of a world famous alchemist. Disheartened by his granddaughter's laziness, he puts Annie in charge of building a resort, which will force her to learn learn alchemy so that the development will thrive. As Annie, you are tasked with gathering elements from nearby regions, fighting off monsters, creating potions and more using alchemy, and completing quests which award money. The ultimate goal is to earn money to develop the resort, which is done by creating potions via alchemy to fulfill quest objectives, and selling elements that have been gathered.
Atelier Annie is best described as an RPG for beginners. There are a lot of elements to the game, and a lot of things to remember, but each task is easy. It is almost closer to a sim game. You can go to one of several gathering areas. In these areas, places where items are available to be gathered are marked with an exclamation point. Monsters will sometimes pop up to kill - you can have up to two townsfolk with you to help battle monsters. It is a pretty standard turn-based RPG fighting model: select your attack and the monster you want to target. I found the monsters quite easy to defeat; not once did I die. Health regenerates when you return to town.
Once you gather your elements you return to town. Pick up quests at the town hall; these quests require you to synthesize an item or element in exchange for money. In town you can buy whatever additional elements that you didn't gather, as well as recipes and weapons.
In your workshop you can synthesize whatever items you have recipes for. If you have the required ingredients you just select the recipe you wish to create and it goes. You do have the ability to choose "normal" synthesis and "special" synthesis. Special synthesis gives you an added "trait" but for the life of me, I cannot figure out the difference.