A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the demo of a game named Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale (please see the initial post for the game’s premise). I’ve now spent around ten hours with the demo + full game, and my verdict is, this was a great diversion, albeit with a finite shelf life.
For the first eight hours, I had a great time. The game was a constant rush to meet each payment deadline. I juggled my time between treasure-hunting in dungeons, looking after the shop, and picking up inventory in town; weighed up whether to keep cash in reserve so I could go on a shopping spree when prices on a particular item category fell; decided on the proper mix between cheap loss-leaders, so I could build up customer trust and farm XP, and the high-priced items I needed to sell in order to raise cash. I learned to curse the cheapskate customers who squawked at anything more than a mark-up of a few percent, and thank my lucky stars when the young men or the spoiled rich girl came in so I could fleece them for gross margins of 25%-30%. And despite thinking from time to time that there was no way I could make enough cash to meet the next deadline, somehow, I managed to scrape through, time after time.
Then the final instalment of Recette’s debt came due, and my luck finally ran out. I game-overed.
As a result, the game flung me into, essentially, a New Game+, where I kept my stock, accumulated levels, etc. This made it trivial to meet the first couple of payment deadlines. And it exposed what I found to be the problem with the game: its appeal to me derived from the tension of trying to meet the deadlines. Remove that, and the game became a repetitive exercise in going through the motions. Had I made the final deadline, I suspect my post-game experience would have been similar, probably exacerbated by the fact I’m not much of one for post-game content in general (that said, I understand there is a lot of this in Recettear).
Still, it was a good experience my first time through. I already described the gameplay mechanics I enjoyed, but there are little touches which add to the storytelling experience: for example, the spoiled rich girl is a horrible haggler, but her long-suffering servant more than makes up for it when she comes in to do the shopping, which allows you to infer who is the real brains of the operation. All in all, definitely worth the money I spent.
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