Premises and promises Being a fan and veteran of RPG-style games, I got excited when I read about this game. Instead of playing a hero, collecting loot and experience, you are a shop owner said hero would encounter on his travels! Very original. You play Recette , a girl who is left with the family shop after her dad suddenly leaves. He leaves a heavy debt too, and if not paid off, Recettear will lose the shop and probably end up under a bridge in a box. She gets help from a fairy named Tear, who wants to see the debt being paid off because it is her company’s money. She is basically this game’s tutorial/faq. So, how does this all play out? Read on…
Time flies when you’re having fun… and also, if you’re not having fun The shop you run can sell weapons, equipment, potions, and sometimes more esoteric stuff. It attracts villagers and heroes both, and keeping them happy is the goal. Well, not the ultimate goal, but if your customers aren’t happy, they’re not likely to return and buy more. You can make your store more attractive by decorating, and can eventually make your own items when you get certain recipes.
Before you can sell items, you need to buy them yourself from other shops, or you can join a hero on his/her travels in a dungeon and keep the loot that he/she finds (for a price). Then you have to place the item(s) in your shop, open your shop, and wait for customers to come by. There is a reason why I listed all these actions separately: everything you do in this game takes up time. As you have a limited amount each day, you need to know in advance what you want to do that day.
This time limit forces the player to focus only on the goal of getting enough money to close the current chapter (with more money needed every following chapter). You don’t have time to take it easy: every part of the day must eventually lead to an increase of your cashflow. Unfortunately, this creates rather frustrating situations. For example, you want some good-selling items, as the deadline for the current chapter is coming up, but cannot buy them from a dealer (not in stock, or too expensive). So you venture into a dungeon, slay enemies, and hope for good drops.
If you’re unlucky, you will only get bad or cheap items. So, you lost time for that day with little or no advantage. Now you need to get lucky in the store while selling the items and hope to haggle in such a way that you gain at least enough money to cover the costs for visiting the dungeon. This counts more towards having a customer wanting a specific item: he places an order, and you need to get it before he returns. Guess what happens if the item simply won’t drop, or can’t be found somewhere else!
You cannot do anything about this “luck” factor, or plan ahead or around it. This gets increasingly annoying throughout the game, as you start to feel the game is deliberately taunting you. Speaking of annoyances…
Where is the mute button? Or rather, any button that works Recette is an non-assertive girl, has no confidence in her abilities and doubts herself every time something bad happens. This translates to annoying remarks, especially during haggling. For example, a customer comes in and wants to sell you an item you don’t want. The only way to not buy the item is to bid a very low price, have the customer disagree, and leave. Recette will always say something along the lines of “I have no talent” or “Can I really do this?”. It undermines the action and result of the player’s choice, and I got increasingly agitated with it.
When dungeneering (not a word, get with it), Recette cannot stop asking the hero if he’s all right after he gets hit. Every single time. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Why is this necessary? Why does she need to ask?
And boy, are you going to hear it often. The controls in the dungeon don't feel right*, and despite seeing your hero hit an enemy, more often than not you will miss the creature, and get hit by it instead. Some enemies have such erratic patterns that it is almost impossible to predict their actions. Some enemies shoot fireballs that track the hero wherever he is, and will almost always result in a hit. Enough hits, and the hero gets incapacitated, you lose the items you collected so far, and you lose the time without getting anything in return.
*: I got a lot of feedback on this, with only a few other people also having this problem. It might be my joypad or keyboard, but everywhere I play it, I don't feel in control.
Conclusion: an original idea, not executed very well Recettear is a broken promise, like finding a shiny, round object on the beach the size of a high value coin, but discover it to be a worthless bottlecap. Too bad Steam won’t take it back, and now it just sits in my game-list, uninstalled, a constant reminder that an original story combined with a favorite game genre doesn’t automatically make for a good game.
Gameplay 4/10 The original setting fails because of its poor execution. There is no depth to the gameplay, as the player is forced into actions by the game, instead of controlling the game himself by his own actions.
Graphics 8/10 A nice manga-look. Colorful, and easy on the eyes.
Sound 1/10 Boring and repetitive, and you want to shut off the voices after a few minutes in.