Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale

Every once in a while, a game comes along which challenges the traditional view of a particular genre and then veers it off into a new direction. Last year, that game was probably Borderlands, the well-received (and utterly addicting) FPS/Diablo hybrid. Three years on from its original release, Japanese role-playing game Recettear has been localised for the PC on Steam, bringing with it a game mechanic I never thought I’d be describing outside of the World of Warcraft auction house: a simulation of an item shop.

Yes, that’s right. There’s no grand-evil to slay or demi-god to seal away – the plight of this quest is financial in nature. The premise is simple: your dead-beat father ran off adventuring (presumably in another RPG) during your younger days and has left you with a substantial debt to repay. Rather than seize your property immediately, a representative of the Terme Finance Company has suggested that you pay off the debt in weekly installments by establishing an item shop on the first floor of your home, situated in the centre of a bustling city.

This is no small task for protagonist Recette, but she has some assistance in the form of fairy Tear, who provides much-appreciated (but optional) tutorial lectures. She’ll teach you how to buy source items, outline the best way to mark-up inventory, provide tips and tricks to gain the favour of regular customers, and even explain how to expand the shop structure. There’s a surprising amount of depth and logic to the commerce system; it’s a good thing, then, that the localisation is so well-done. While the humour may not be to everyone’s taste, it’s acutely aware of its heritage, with references to Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest and even Shin Megami Tensei sprinkled across the witty, pun-laden dialogue.

Between bartering with other traders and haggling customers down to maximise profits, you’ll spend the rest of the game exploring dungeons, and here is where Reccetear crosses more traditional game design. Using your influence as a merchant, you can hire (and then play as) plucky adventurers to tackle run-down ruins and dangerous caves, to bust some monsters and earn epic loot, which upon completion of the dungeon you can keep, and ultimately, sell on for a profit. The catch is that if your adventurer falls, you only get to keep one item, which you’ll probably need to sell to cover the hiring fee. Luckily, dungeon progress is saved every five floors, and hero experience will be retained even if you don’t make it.

On the subject of failure, should you miss a weekly debt repayment, expect to start the game over. Thankfully, much like the save system in Dead Rising, you keep all of your core progress; your item collection, your merchant experience and even the levels of individual heroes that you’ve contracted all stay put, with only small narrative sections to be repeated. This greatly increases your chances for success the next time around, further adding to the addictive nature of the game.







One response to “Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale”

  1. Jake avatar

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