Throughout my life I have explored countless role-playing games and experienced every play-style one can imagine; so many in fact that it becomes difficult to recall games that don’t offer up new ideas or stories. It is the unique gameplay, beautiful design, and original concept of “Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale” which caught my attention and never let go.
You begin the game as Recette Lemongrass, a girl put in charge of the family business upon her father’s mysterious disappearance. It was his dream to become a successful adventurer, but when he doesn’t return, it is Recette who is held responsible for repaying his debts! You find yourself in charge of running a shop with the guidance of Tear, a fairy employed by Terme Finance to make sure you earn the money to pay back the considerable debt your father has left behind. Luckily you need not pay back the loan in one sum as that would be a feat in itself. Instead, you are given deadlines which you must meet, and should you fail to have the proper amount to repay at any given time, you lose the game! Luckily this is when the first unique aspect of the game kicks in, as you are given the choice for a full restart or just to begin the game again whilst retaining the same merchant level you had already obtained previously. This allows for players to go through the game at whatever pace they desire, always building off of the time invested. Throughout the game you meet new characters who play vital roles in the progression of the story itself. The game’s actual story is presented in the increasingly popular format of two dimensional sprites in motion, or an animated graphic novel if you will.
The gameplay itself uses a lot of familiar styles from other games but still manages to pull it off, allowing the player to be drawn in to the story. The main goal of the game is to run a successful and profitable shop, however the means by which you do so is up to you, and that brings to light another unique concept — time management. The game-day is split into individual periods where the time moves forward when the player completes an action. This can include “playing the market” by visiting and purchasing from the other shops and guilds in town, going adventuring for items in randomly generated dungeons, or of course running the shop and managing your supply/demand. This system requires putting a little bit of thought into how you manage your day as you’re only allowed to perform a limited number of actions during a day, and have a fairy on your back looking for payment.
It becomes difficult to operate a shop without products to sell, which is where exploring dungeons comes into play. Upon entering the adventurer’s guild you are given a choice of characters to use depending on your playing style (you meet more as you progress in the story), and together you enter a randomly generated dungeon. Within the dungeon you encounter enemies which become stronger over time as you move further into the dungeon. It is on these journeys that you will find treasures to sell and even equipment for the adventurer you chose to use. Each dungeon features difficult bosses (some have more than one as difficulty increases), making leveling a key to completing the quests. This can require grinding in spots, but if you have the patience for that you should find progressing fairly simple. If you die in the dungeon you are only allowed to take one item which you have collected, so exploring with caution is advised. Assuming you are lucky or skilled enough to make it to the end of a dungeon, you keep all the items you discovered and the next part of the game’s story is revealed.
Within your shop you are given specific places to display the items you want to the sell. Window slots are where you place the items that are more likely to grab shoppers’ attention and bring high amounts of people into the store, and usually are sold quicker as a result. You are given a mechanic to selling items in the shop in the form of a haggling system. By looking at the customer you can decide whether they would allow you to increase the price a little more or in some cases actually lower the base price it is set at. Patrons will also offer to sell items, allowing you to take advantage of the same system to increase your shops supply and profit.
Readers who are fans of anime, manga, or graphic novels will appreciate the artistry within the game. Keeping with the style of popular Japanese games, the vibrant colors and edgy character designs help immerse the gamer into this unique world. “Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale” provides a rich variety of things to do as you progress whether it be adventuring, crafting, playing the market, or even dabbling in some alchemy a bit later on; enough to keep any gamer busy. I have invested countless hours and have enjoyed myself thoroughly as I explored this game world and I urge those reading to check it out and join me in this entertaining gaming experience. Currently you can download Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale though the Steam network.