Recettear is, at its heart, a trading game. Everything you do in this game is geared towards you then selling things you get out of it in your shop so you can pay off a debt left to you by your father, who was apparently so bad with money that the amount owed would make the main character faint, so it’s a secret.[drop]It’s also in an anime style, so if you can’t stand the genre/style you’d better stay well clear, as it’s difficult to get any more anime than Recettear. However if you like/can put up with the genre/style and a combination of running a shop (complete with bartering), dungeon crawling and strange, off-beat humour appeals to you, you had better jump at the chance.
You begin the game with a lot of instructions which, whilst useful and even necessary, wouldn’t have been too difficult to figure out alone. The most important part of the tutorial for selling is the average percentage of the base price of an item you’re likely to sell for, which is 130%. You see, the first time you populate your shop with items to sell, you go stock up from the merchant with some cheap, low quality items. You then put these items up for display in your shop and open up. People come into your shop and ask to buy something – at this point, you set a price point.
The price itself doesn’t matter and changes between items (obviously), but the percentage of the base price you’re selling it for tends to remain the same. I went through the entire first (in-game) week starting at 140% and going down to 130% to make the sale, after which it got slightly more unpredictable. You earn experience as you sell things, so you also level up and the higher your level the more difficult it gets to have customers handing over their cash, with different characters having different thresholds for how much they’ll spend.
Also, the first couple of times you level up you’ll unlock something new – first the ability to buy items from customers (for drastically reduced prices) and then the chance to suggest an item to a customer (for example, if they ask for a weapon, you can suggest any weapon you have in stock, whether it’s out on display or not). This means your customers can come into your shop and do more than just buy from you, and you’d better be paying attention to what they’re saying, or you might end up buying something from them for the price you’d sell it for (definitely never happened to me, honest).
Whilst you can get by reasonably well with just trading items, if you want to make stupid amounts of money that’s all profit (not to mention have a break from shop-running), you can descend into the dungeons with an adventurer. The first time you take a look into the Adventurer’s Guild you’ll get an adventurer via rules that apparently circumvent the rules you’re told about adventurers immediately before (go figure). You can then go dungeon crawling with your adventurers, where you’ll find items you can sell in amongst the monsters, whether dropping from monsters or found in chests.[drop2]I really enjoy the dungeon crawling, it’s vaguely reminiscent of the old Zelda games (the top-down ones) and, well, I enjoy the trading section of the game enough that it makes economical sense for me to gather items from dungeons. I never expected to discover that kind of encouragement in a game. There are other locations you can go to from the map screen as well as the Adventurer’s Guild, such as the Merchant’s Guild and the Market, as well as back to the shop. The other three areas are, as far as I can tell, side-exposition, full of vaguely amusing chatter that doesn’t really affect the rest of the game as far as I’ve seen.
Making money is all well and good, but there has to be a point to it too, right? Well, in addition to showing off your incredible capitalistic prowess and paying off your father’s debt, you’re also introduced to another reason after your first in-game week, uncovering a mega-store versus indie store dynamic to the storyline that was actually played out of left field for me.
Overall, Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale might not be for everybody. Indeed, the slightly steep price point of £12.99 daunted even myself slightly until I realised I’d put 4 hours into the full game having started again after finishing the demo, which I played for 2 hours. I do recommend playing with a gamepad if you’ve got one, as playing with a keyboard grew pretty uncomfortable and isn’t particularly well suited to this style of dungeon crawling.
You can see shopkeeping gameplay below. I did originally shoot dungeon crawling but it jumped around so much for whatever reason that it wasn’t worth posting and time constraints kept me from recording more. The game is available on Steam.
- OS: Windows XP/Vista/7
- Processor: Pentium 4 1.7ghz or Athlon XP 1700+ (or equivalent processor)
- Memory: 256MB of system RAM (512 reccomended for Windows Vista and 7)
- Graphics: DirectX 8.1-compatible video card of any type with at least 64 megabytes of video RAM; Nvidia and ATI tested (Intel Intregrated Graphics below X4000 series not recommended)
- DirectX®: DirectX 8.1
- Hard Drive: 700MB free HD space
- Sound: DirectX 8.1-compatible sound card/motherboard chip