Recettear An Item Shop's Tale
I'm currently at my limit with platformers, rpgs, and shooters. I have far too many of them vying for my attention and yet not many of them are attempting to entice me with anything that feels completely unique. But in an industry scared of risk and in love with producing sequels how is one able to find something fresh? Luckily independent game developers are able to take the risks that giant companies can not and give us interesting niche titles that are becoming far too hard to come by.
So What's This Game All About?
Recettear An Item Shop's Tale has you playing as the young girl Recette who has recently discovered she has inherited all of her father's debts. In order to not lose the house Recette turns the place into an item shop in the hopes of raising the money she needs. The debt collector Tear, who happens to be a fairy, stays around to give Recette useful advice and help run the store. Together the two use the powers of bargaining and limited supply specials to make their shop the most successful one around.
The game takes place in a fantasy setting thus allowing you to be bossed around by a punctual fairy as you attempt to sell some of your wares to magicians and elves. The story takes a back seat to the gameplay, but as the relationship between our young shop owner and her loan-shark fairy companion grows we learn a lot about the two of them and the world they inhabit. Along the way Recette will meet a lot of interesting and peculiar people who can possibly become loyal customers to your store with enough pestering.
Recettear An Item Shop's Tale consists of a lot of management. You must keep track of your inventory, utilize your shelving space in the most attractive way possible, and remember how much your customers are willing to spend and what items they like. For instance children might not be willing to spend too much on most of your items, but they will almost always be willing to purchase the expensive sweets that less impetuous customers avoid. Due to the wide array of customer preferences its generally a good idea to stock up on a variety of items. You never know when someone might be in dire need of toothpicks.
You can also pay an adventurer to take you through a dungeon in search of rare items. The dungeons themselves are always changing and filled to the brim with traps, monsters, and flying fish. You can make quite a nifty profit if you manage to make it back out of the dungeon with your adventurer still in one piece. The trick is to learn the attack patterns of the local monsters and to be wary of every treasure chest. Treasure chests can contain items well worth a spot in pockets, but at the same time a treasure chest can also contain a trap of some sort. Some treasure chests will even spawn a ring of enemies around you. So do be wary.
Running A Successful Shop
One of the things this game neglects to tell you is how important leveling is and how to do so effectively. It's a great idea early on to charge as much as you can for all of your items and discover how much certain customers are willing to spend. But later on if you're not so sure it might be better to go for a modest price. If you suggest a price the customer is happy with on your first offer then you get extra experience points. This carries on into an increasing chain that can grant you heaps of extra levels within a single session. Of course once you charge too much for an item you'll make a customer unhappy and that will break the chain. It's a precarious path to follow as you'll be missing out on a lot of extra money if you're always charging base price out of fear of breaking your chain.
If you're trying to maximize your success then it is very important you treat each customer differently. For example the 'Man' customer will always be willing to spend a lot more money on armor and weapons than the 'Girl' customer. So remember who likes what and you'll find yourself with a much larger profit. Also each customer will have their own 'perfect price' for certain items. If you sell an item to a customer near their 'perfect price' you'll get some bonus experience points, but if you sell at that 'perfect price' threshold then you'll get twice as much experience. There's a lot of benefits to experimentation here if you're willing to play around with the prices.
As you level up you'll unlock more actions you can perform at the shop. Such as buy items from customers, take orders for items not on your shelves, the ability to fuse items together, expand the size of your store, and much more. Buying items from customers is a great way to get items for a very cheap price as they'll generally sell well under the base price. It'll also become important to stock a wide variety of items in your store once customers can ask for items not on your shelves. It gives you a chance to sell items that are normally ignored, but also without the wide assortment of items you'll find yourself breaking your experience boost chains. There's a lot to do as you level up and as an added bonus it'll sometimes grant you perks for adventuring.
Looking Out For Spices and Wolves
Early in the game you'll meet a poor, seedy looking guy trying to join the adventurer's guild. This is of course your chance to partner up with someone to gain more items for your store. When you first start selling wares at your store you'll have a very small budget to work and won't have enough merchant experience to take advantage of any deals. The obvious solution to this is to pay a small fee to a foolish adventurer and have them escort you through a dungeon to collect items. Every item you find in a dungeon will practically cost you nothing and thus vastly increase your profits. Though you won't be able to take more then one thing back with you if your adventurer succumbs to a powerful enemy.
When inside the dungeons you'll play as the adventurer you hired to go looting for you. At first you'll only have the sword and shield fighter to choose from, but as the game progresses you'll meet many adventurers that you can recruit to assist you. Luckily the first adventurer you start with is a pretty decent one. Louie, the rookie adventurer, attacks with his sword in a wide arc so positioning isn't too strict when engaging monsters. Louie can also be equipped with shields and a lot of heavy armor so that he takes very little damage from traps and enemies. Unfortunately this adventurer is not one of the richest customers you'll find at your shop. If you want Louie to equip items that are good for him you might find yourself having to sell that equipment a good amount less then what you could get from other patrons.
The dungeons themselves change every time you visit them so you'll have to search your way out every time. The enemies all have their own attacks and behavior patterns that you'd do well to learn. You can always use the items you find to heal your adventurer, but every item you use to heal with is an item you're not selling at your store. A lot of the enemies, especially the slimes, are not impressive threats, but with traps that could trigger at any moment its important to keep up your guard. Simply walking into a room can trigger a trap which could turn a single foe into several that are suddenly surrounding you. Lastly when ever you enter a new floor of the dungeon there's a chance a random effect might take place. If you're lucky then your adventurer might gain double experience for a short time. If you're unlucky all the enemies on the current floor might do twice as much damage as they normally do. If you find yourself on a scary level of the dungeon it might be a good idea to simply leave and look for items on the next level.
Closing Down Thoughts
This game was an amazing breath of fresh air among the many games that all practice the same tried and true formulas. The anime-esque art style is one I really enjoy and I find it fits perfectly with the fantasy setting of this game. The humor during dialogue exchanges is definitely what grasped my interest when I first started playing this game and it kept me smiling a lot of the time. The game itself isn't exceedingly long as I finished it in about twelve hours, but even after that there is a lot of content in the game I've yet to access. There's an additional dungeon I've barely touched and I've only recently expanded my store and started using vending machines. I still haven't grasped the full nature of creating an atmosphere for your store using certain furniture pieces and I've also only recently started fusing items.
When you finish the game you enter 'Endless Mode' which is a very laid back mode where you no longer have to pay off part of a loan once a week. You also unlock New Game + which lets you take all of your progress into a new game, but even more interesting then that is the Survival Mode which is basically a much more difficult version of the normal game that never stops asking you to pay off part of a loan. The amount you have to pay each week always increases and the challenge is in discovering the best way to make money and seeing how long you can keep at it before your debt becomes too large.
I almost forgot to mention how much I enjoy the characters. All of the characters you meet throughout the game I found to be very interesting and Recette's child like nature always leads to humorous events with everyone. Recette may seem a little air-headed at first, but there is a lot going on in that big head of hers and the relationships she forms with everyone felt very powerful to me. This game is probably the most polished Indie game I think I've ever played and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a change of pace.
If you've ever had a dream to own your own shop then now is your chance!
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