Everyone in RPGs is going off on all these wild adventures to save the world… and I’m just sitting here running an item shop, making fat stacks of cash! That’s right, in Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale, you are the owner of the store that you typically stop by in other games to pick up health items and better weapons or equipment. Doesn’t that sound awesome? That’s because it is, and the combination of store management simulation gameplay with RPG dungeon-adventuring/looting works so well that this is the one PC game I never seem to get tired of. Whenever I’m in the mood for a round of daring capitalism, Recettear is there in my Steam library, always ready to be booted up.
In this game you play as a girl named Recette, who one day finds her father has taken off to go on some adventure, leaving her to tend the item shop… and to pay off their massive debt! Recette is an idiot, but with the help of a fairy named Tear she quickly learns the ropes of running a business. And if you get the hang of buying low, selling high, and hiring adventurers to loot valuable items for you… you can make bank! Pay off that debt, reinvigorate the local economy, and show all those townfolk who’s boss!
The shop is named Recettear, which is a combination of the two main character’s names. Similarly, the gameplay is a mash-up of two different genres, and there’s a lot to delve into for both types of gameplay involved.
First off is the main draw of the title: selling and buying goods at your store. You pick out items you own to put on display wherever you wish, then deal with a number of haggling customers. As the store owner, you get to set the price for each transaction… but you gotta be smart about it! Keep in mind what types of goods are currently in demand, what items you want on display at the front window, and what kind of price range each of the townfolk can afford to work within. Even things like shop decor and what time of day you’re open are things to consider when you’re aiming for a specific audience for the goods you focus on. Some townfolk are cheap, but give them enough good deals and you’ll eventually have some reliable sources of cash flow in the form of regular customers!
You can acquire goods in multiple ways: purchasing wares from the town guildmaster, haggling with customers who bring in items to sell, or by looting stuff from treasure chests in overhead RPG-style dungeons. When you hire an adventurer, you get to play as a swordsman, a thief, a mage, an archer, or a lancer (among others), and each character wields his or her own weapon and has a unique playing style. Take down monsters, steal loot, get paid. It’s good clean fun, and there is a nice variety to the enemies and random level arrangements and events.
The game presents a decent challenge, and there’s enough to dive into to make even the base story mode a pretty extensive venture. And speaking of the story, the various events and character interactions are presented in essentially a visual novel format, and much of the text is translated in a very lighthearted manner. It’s an amusing, innocuous, and starry-eyed romp through the dark world of harsh and relentless capitalism. And though the various characters you encounter largely serve as parodies of various RPG character archetypes, the dialogue has an earnest silliness about it that makes everyone just memorable enough to keep you invested in their little subplots. (Unless you are heartless, like this punk!)
But at the end of the day, all that truly matters is money. Acquire vast amounts of wealth by any means possible! That is the Recettear way, and if you play this game enough maybe you can start applying its precepts to your own life? Buy low, sell high, kill monsters for their egg toast! What’s not to love? Get it on Steam. It’s an offer you just can’t refuse!