By DrWhat 10 Comments
I started Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale today. After getting through the demo yesterday I knew I had to give it a shot, and I'm having a blast.
Recettear is an impossibly cute RPG in which the main character is pressed into opening an item shop in your stereotypical JRPG town. At first it's pretty simple, and as you're slowly introduced to the mechanics, each game day, it broadens into a super-fun and addictive management/adventuring hybrid, sort of like Harvest Moon meets a SNES-era Action-JRPG like Zelda: LTTP, Illusion of Gaia, or Terranigma. About half of the time, you'll be in the town - either in your shop, buying and selling; in the market or merchant's guild, gathering inventory; or in another part of town, for little (presumably optional) cutscene / plot points. The other half of the time, you'll be controlling one of the adventurers you contract to find you items, venturing out into the world, fighting monsters and bosses and who knows what else.
At first you can only contract with a poor warrior with a beat-up sword, but you can equip your adventurers with items from your inventory to beef them up for your forays, which is a really interesting way to have the two game halves connect. When you're not adventuring with them, they'll even come into your item shop to buy new supplies and sell what they've found -- and even though they might not be as rich as your other customers, sometimes you'll want to cut them a deal to make sure they don't die out there!
It's hard to explain exactly why I'm having such a blast with Recettear. It's not mentally taxing, really, but it's got just enough going on to be really easy to pick up, and the localization is fantastic (by a first-time-out indie team, Carpe Fulgur.) I get a kick out of interacting with the residents of the town, and the action RPG side of the game feels very solid. The difficulty of the questing ramps up at a good pace to feel challenging but not unfair, and there seems to be a combo-chaining system as well, though I haven't gotten into it enough to find out yet. You get XP bonuses for side, back, and counter attacks, and the way the monsters react to swings and hits, together with your character's animations, mesh well. It's still just "tap Z to attack, tap X for special", but I've read that things get more complicated when you're able to contract spellusers and other classes.
Recettear is available on Steam as of today! Try out the demo, also available there. It's definitely worth a try, if you're into classic JRPGs at all. Unless you can't stand cute anime stuff, then run away screaming. But it's still fun, damn it.
I'll post a full review once I get through, but I have no idea how long that'll be - I'm not even through week 2 in the game yet! Damn loan shark fairies...
UPDATE: And if you've tried Recettear and found some things weird, there was an update yesterday or so. It's automatic on Steam, but if you grabbed it from other sources (GamersGate or whatever) you can get the patch from CF here.