Indsendt: 22. november
Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale
is probably the cutest worst game there is. Ill-conceived
better covers it: you play half the game as a top-down dungeon crawler and the other half as manager to the eponymous item shop, with neither halves being properly implemented in the first place. I get the feeling that the developers, EasyGameStation
, had very ambitious ideas for the concept of "Item Merchant Game" except that they've botched everything until what they made barely resembles a game anymore! I'll explain...
You are Recette, spunky little girl entrepreneur required by the faerie bond collection agency to raise enough money to repay her father's exorbitant adventuring debt. For this task you have your house located smack dab in the middle of RPG City, which you've converted into an Item Shop for the convenience of all. Sell items to the roaming adventurers, make a profit, repay your debt; simple enough, right? It all goes to pot with the whole bargaining system and the complete lack of player feedback other than win/fail.
Before that, an egregious crime in game development: having the tutorial LIE to you. When faerie sidekick Tear tells you that selling at around 121% of base price is a conservative strategy, she is flat out LYING to you. This is far above what many villagers can afford and will not increase important customer loyalty. This is especially villainous considering there is no other way than trial-and-error to determine a customer's comfort range.
The process of selling and bargaining for optimal profits and customer loyalty is stupid and punishes experimentation. Any experimentation in bargaining reduces important customer loyalty which reduces the overall money pool they're willing to invest in your products. Worse, it's all so incredibly MOOT!!! When you buy goods from the guild merchant, he sells it to you marked down from base price. Therefore if you sell those goods at base price, you make a (small) profit. Base price is a perfectly good baseline for most customers and you can repay your debts out of this practice! Otherwise, use a strategy guide to know optimal salesmanship builds as there's no rhyme or reason to the whole process!
Dungeon crawling is the second half of the game and although mostly innocuous, doesn't introduce any elements anyone would deem "fun". You hire an adventurer from the pool of friends you've made and go down randomly generated levels, looking out for monsters and treasures until you discover the exit. Inventory space (bag space) becomes the most annoying aspect as you're stretched between saving space for treasures at the expense of bringing food, rings and adventuring gear. Because the adventurers don't bring their own gear with them; no, that would be too simple! You have to sell them the stuff from your store, except you have no control over what they ask for and you can't "suggest" goods either. Egregious crime in gaming #2!
All that said, the Main Story is fun enough. You have likeable characters, humorous dialogue... You really can't fault the English publishing company Carpe Fulgur
for anything. It's New Game + that becomes a pain because the challenge comes from grinding for rare items (in multiples, for completion of the Fusion Recipes) and the fact that the dungeons are just longer with cheaper boss fights. Oh, did I mention that you can't save inside of a dungeon? There's really nothing to gain from the New Game + experience except an increase in frustration and maybe
two characters. I put a point in saying maybe
because if you do unlock the final character, you've already defeated all the monsters and bosses the game has to throw at you. That's bad pacing right there.
The main problem with Recettear
is that the item shop game, billed as its selling point, just doesn't work. It fails from lack of options for the player, lack of interface telling the player what he's doing right and wrong and arbitrary levels of contentment amongst the customers. It's not hard
, far from it! It's that there's no gaming elements
related to the experience. Recettear might as well be a visual novel with a dungeon crawler tacked on to it. It's cute and endearing but it fails at being a game to begin with. And I'm the idiot who gifted this product to so many of my friends. Just enormous waves of regret all around, don't be like me and get suckered in by a cute exterior...
PS: I really wished that there were more "Adventurer" customers and less normal looking villagers, so you could really make this game about an ITEM SHOP SET IN AN RPG WORLD. As it is, you're really more of a goods store selling general products and knickknacks.