Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Will I Rage? Recettear: An Item Shops Tale Review

When I first heard of the game "Recettear: An Item Shops tale" I had mixed feelings about it. I always thought that it was an interesting idea, but how could they pull it off without the game being incredibly boring? However even though I've slept on the game for awhile I decided to pick it up, give it a play through and write up this review. So here it is....my review of the indy RPG title "Recettear: An Item Shops Tale".

In the beginning...
Upon starting the game I noticed 2 things right off the bat. First is from the graphics, to the Anime style characters the game has that old school RPG feel to it. This is NOT a bad thing though, it suits this title well. The second thing that I couldn't help but notice is while the subtitles are in English, the few words that the characters actually speak are not. Not a big deal, but slightly amusing to me. In this first scene you kind of get an understanding what is going on. I am not going to give away the plot, but I will say now that I actually really enjoyed the storyline of this game. Now here is my first gripe about this game (if you can really call it that). The tutorial seems to drag on forever. You can click Escape to move past each part but if its your first time playing that could possibly leave you confused as hell. However, it's nice to have that option for the future. I'm not saying the tutorial isn't needed because it is. I'm just saying that for a gamer with little patience (which sadly I see more and more of these days) it may be too much for them. Another good thing is, this game is compatible with any Windows recognized controller (including your 360 controller!) which is how I decided to play it since the original key bindings suck (x,y,z Asian setup).

The joys of owning your own shop
Once we get passed this awful tutorial we learn it is our job to buy items to stock our shop from either the Merchant's guild or the market, both of which have good items that you should always stock up on. Also after a few levels, we find out that we also buy items from customers, which we are able to haggle on. The main goal of this game is to buy items, and sell them for a profit so that you can pay back a weekly debt. If you fail to pay it back the game ends and you start over at "Day 1" again although you keep your level and items accumulated. This Debt rises every week also, which keeps things difficult. After a few more levels, you'll get the option to do "Orders" for customers where they will return in x amount of days to pick it up which is a neat little addition to mix things up a bit. Each time you open your shop, you must run through several customers who you need to haggle a price with, and make sure not to anger them too much so that they don't storm out of your shop. In a weird, fantasy RPG way....you kind of get to live out your Pawn Stars dream! After you've played for a bit, "News" also begins to happen, trends, and certain items sell for more on some days, and less on others. So make sure to keep up with that, and restock your shop accordingly. That's another little addition that keeps it from getting too dull.

Now, for you who are gawking at the screen wondering "what the hell? Where is the combat!".....This section is for you. Another aspect of this game is "The Adventure guild!". With this game you have to manage your time, so its not always best to go on an adventure, which is more or less dungeon crawling. The reason being, it takes up your ENTIRE day so your shop is closed that day, where restocking in town only takes up one 4 blocks of time (almost like a pie chart. Opening shop takes 1 piece per time, shopping in town takes 1 piece from the time you leave to the time you return to your shop, and the adventure guild takes 4 pieces (the entire day). So use your time wisely. Adventuring can be very profitable though seeing as if you are successful and don't die in the dungeon you get to keep all the loot you find to sell. If you do die, you get to choose only one piece of gear to bring back out of the loot you found. Just make sure you balance out your dungeon crawling, restocking, and the actual running of your shop or you will be in trouble.

Shop Customization
As you slowly gain merchant levels (level up) you unlock certain abilities. The ability to change the floor, wallpaper, counters, Carpet, and generally upgrade your shop. I personally wish that there was MORE customization options available. It feels like they rushed on that aspect, which could have added a little more replay value and personalization to the game. It is there though, and good enough to keep you comfortable with it so I won't complain too much.

The Bad
I will start off with the default controls for the game. I had to actually "look up" how to click on "options" or "start game" in the menu. I could move up and down with the arrow keys, but enter, spacebar, nothing was working. Apparently it was either x,y, or z (I forget which). If you are going to port a game from Asian standards to the rest of the world, you need to set the default controls to what they know. Luckily as soon as I did manage to click "start game" my 360 controller was auto recognized so I didn't have to deal with odd keyboard controls and configurations. If you don't have a controller you may though.

Another thing that I thought could be a lot better is the customer AI. Once you get a feel for each character type, its easy to remember exactly how low or high you can haggle them. For example the child is really broke, the old man is super stingy, and the dude in his 20's - early 30's is a bit less so. If they randomized each customers buying/selling habits it could have made the game a lot more interesting.

This isn't just a knock at Recettear but at most all games now. I really wish the storyline had of lasted longer. The storyline isn't super complex but it does its job to keep you interested and I feel that it ended far too soon. However AFTER the story is over, you can keep playing for as long as you can pay your payment each week, which becomes increasingly harder and harder each week.

All in all I have to admit while being skeptical going in, this game far exceeded my expectations. It's unique in a market that's overflowing with clones of popular titles and dares to be different. Are there aspects of the game that need work? Yes. But the game is polished, fun to play, and has some replay value as well. I know it isn't a new release but I still hope to one day see a sequel made to this game. I think it has A LOT of potential.

3.5 out of 5

While the game is very fun, has decent replay value and has amazing levels of originality going for it there is a lot that could be improved upon as I've mentioned above which is why I gave it the 3.5 out of 5. Hopefully one day we will see a sequel with all those things fixed. Still an amazing game as is, and I'd suggest it to anyone who is into single player "Old School" style RPGs.

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