equitasinvictus's Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale (PC) review

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  • equitasinvictus wrote this review on .
  • 61 out of 64 Giant Bomb users found it helpful.

“Capitalism Ho!”

What do you get when you combine JRPG and Business Simulation? Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale. Featuring a one-of-a-kind system of bartering and classic, Zelda-esque dungeon crawling mechanics, Recettear is innovative and thoroughly entertaining. Being in debt never has been so fun!  

While it starts out like your typical JRPG – waking up after oversleeping and neglecting your newfound responsibilities – you are quickly thrown into starting your item shop.   

In this game you play as Recette Lemongrass (right in the above image), an airheaded yet endearing young, cute girl inheriting the debt from her father’s loans after he goes missing in his recent pursuit of adventuring. Tear (left), your companion, is a bespectacled fairy who presents the alternative of paying off the debt with an item shop business instead of having your house repossessed (forcing you to literally live in a box, which you can actually see as a “Game Over” screen if your business is unable to make you enough money for your weekly payment.) This dynamic duo is the driving force behind the game’s story: their exchanges are amusing and adorable.

Starting out – your store is completely bare. Tear, however, explains nearly everything behind running business. Her pocket-tutorials are quick, straightforward, and immerse you into the business simulation mechanics of the game. Even on my first demo playthrough, I was able to completely comprehend how the item shop was supposed to work and was even able to make the first payment on time! The game is kind in how it lays everything out for you. (On a plus note – demo savegame data can be copied and pasted into the retail game’s directory and loaded up from there, allowing you to carry over your demo’s progress!)

As you get past the tutorial phase and get your store into a semi-functional state, you are introduced to both the “Adventurer’s Guild,” the gateway to the game’s dungeon crawling mechanic.  

Mind you, it is not Recette herself who takes up the role of adventuring. At the “Adventurer’s Guild” you meet a young adventurer, Louie, who has yet to start his career. Tear suggests that you and she accompany him in his “test” to become a member of the guild, offering your services as a supplier of food and equipment while retaining loot that he finds. Essentially, the “test” doubles as a dungeon and a tutorial to the combat mechanics of the game.

As I’ve said, the combat system is very much like that of classic (NES and SNES) Legend of Zelda. It is very fluid and I’ve had little problems with it.

Enemies are varied and you have to take different approaches in dealing with them so you aren’t always just charging and mashing the attack button. In fact, there is even a special attack button that you can use in a pinch (limited by the game’s equivalent of “magic points.”) As you level up (you can speed up the rate at which you earn exp through chains of slaying the same type of monsters,) you unlock different kinds of special attacks – the first new one being a ranged attack. You can also align yourself with different kinds of adventurers as the game progresses, presenting new game mechanics to keep the gameplay from being too repetitive. Overall, however, after meeting my first non-default adventurer, Charme, I tended to stick with her and neglected the adventurers I unlocked after. I felt that speed-wise (you can double tap a directional key to sprint) and special ability-wise, she was the most convenient to dungeon crawl with. Eventually, I leveled her up to a point where I could play through the dungeons effortlessly.

Adventurers aren’t the only ones who level up as you play – Recette also has her own Merchant Level.   You can raise your Merchant Level as you make more successful transactions – in fact, if you make these transactions consecutively (without a customer protesting your rates) in one session of bartering, the rate at which your Merchant Level increases also rises.

Between the item shop and combat mechanics, the game can be a challenge to play during your first playthrough – it can be difficult to find loot from dungeon crawling (which takes half of a game day) and manage your item shop to make money to pay off your debt. While you don’t necessarily need to dungeon crawl in order to succeed (the Market and Merchant’s Guild sells you items at slightly cheaper rates compared with the base price which you can charge customers an extra percentage of,) it can be advantageous – especially in procuring treasures and ingredients (predominantly monster drops.)

Ingredients can either be sold or fused (an ability unlocked at an early Merchant Level,) to create superior and more expensive items. This is useful for equipping your adventurer companions (they can actually visit your store and you can sell them equipment they will permanently use without having to fill up item slots in your dungeon crawls) with better quality weapons, armor and accessories. It can also be effective in making large sums of cash per single transactions. I thought this system was fleshed out quite well – it’s nice to see some sort of lasting effect on the game world with transactions by selling equipment to adventurers.

On the other hand, there are also some weird quirks with how the item shop works. Some customers have their sprites repeat and there are scenarios where the Merchant Guildmaster appears as a customer and buys some item he sells at the Merchant Guild for very cheap for 130% the base price. These quirks aren’t gamebreakingly drastic, however, and can be easily overlooked with how expansive the shop mechanics can be. 

Like the world’s economy, Recettear’s world faces the issue of unpredictably fluctuating prices. After you progress past your first week’s payment, you are soon introduced to the “News Feed” – which covers how certain items or item types are doing in the world market. Ideally there can be a demand for items such as armor, allowing you to sell your cheaply purchased armor from the Merchant’s Guild at 200%+ rates. On the other hand there can be market crashes in which items may sell cheaply at the Merchant’s Guild and the market – however, you will also have to barter those same items at percentages under the base price. I believe this element of business simulation mechanics is what helps keep this game both challenging and engaging. It forced me to be very careful about some of my purchases.

While I said that I completed the demo in my first playthrough without failing, I cannot say the same about my retail game’s playthrough. The last week’s payment is especially demanding and I did not make it. The game can be rough but somewhat generous at this point. While you get the “Game Over” screen of Recette having her house repossessed and living in a box, you shortly afterwards wake up from it as a dream – you are back in day one, but your store is still furnished and you still have all your items prior to the “Game Over.”

Having completed the game today, a lot of it is still fresh on my mind. Even after paying off your debt, your are allowed to continue running your store in an "Endless Mode." You also unlock a "New Game+" and "Survival Mode," the latter of which being a mode in which your weekly debt payments are endless. These expanded modes provide for great replayability! I myself will definitely be playing more of Recettear in order to find even more adventurers and unlock even more dungeons while running the item shop. 

 Selling for $20 on Steam (and two direct-download distributors which I cannot recall from the top of my head,) Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is worth every penny!   

Posted by Mayu_Zane

Man, I wish this game caught GB staff attention. I'd just like to see their reaction to this game, possibly in quicklook form.
Anyway, yeah, bought the game and I'm enjoying every bit of it aside from the occasional glitch or two and the soundtrack that can get kinda tiring to hear after the first 10 hours. Agreed with most bits in the review, love the last picture added in at the end, it just fits.

Posted by RelentlessKnight
@Mayu_Zane I really doubt that's going to happen, but still alright review
Posted by Karkarov

You are rating it a bit high maybe?  Heh, it is a nice little way to kill a few hours though.  The dialog for the most part is pretty entertaining and the game does progress you at a steady clip.  It feels alot like a harvest moon or something similar in it's atmosphere but the actual game itself is fairly deep despite the silly exterior.

Posted by kwyee

Great review!  I'll prob pick this up soon then, since there are no "big name" reviews out for it yet.
addendum: the game is also available for purchase at gamersgate and impulse

Posted by Xeiphyer

Great review! I have been playing this game for a while and loving it.
Two pieces of advice for anyone wanting to get into the game: Don't be afraid to miss the payment because it just starts you back at day 2 with everything you had sans money and dungeons/adventurers unlocked. Its also much easier to re-unlock everything since your adventurers will still have their old equips and level. Also if you aren't going to make the payment, spend all your money on stock since it resets your money to 1000pix.
The other piece of advice I have is to exploit item demand properly. Obviously don't sell items when the price drops since people will want them for less than the base price, but more importantly when an item's price increases you can sell it for double the usual price. I played for around 15 hours thinking that that meant I could go from 130% to 160% when they were increased. ACTUALLY its completely doubled, so when the price goes up the price goes from 130% to 260%. You can make insane amounts of money if you exploit this.  Sometimes you will get Weapons price increase And Metal Things increase and you can get it up to crazy amounts!! I got an item to sell at 500% to the Rival during that.

Posted by Shirogane

Proffessionial berk at your service! 
Captalism Ho indeed!
Posted by DragonBloodthirsty

The other two are through Impulse (from Stardock) and GamersGate.

Posted by LordAndrew

Ah, I remember seeing those screenshots while I was doing image moderation! Good review, and I'm enjoying the game myself. Recette ends up living in a box if you get a game over? I guess I'll have to try that now. :D

Posted by crusader8463

I played it for several hours, but it just kind of wore thin on me after awhile. Doing the same thing over and over and over. I will give it another try, but with Civ 5 coming out tomorrow I doubt it will be anytime soon.

Posted by Meteora
Great review. I'm going to play the demo later on.      
Posted by Mesoian

Nice review. I more than likely won't buy the full game as I played the demo and was TERRRRRRRRRRRRRRIBLE at it, but it was fun and quirky and while you can easily get the most out of the 20 dollar price tag, I think 15 would be more sound. But this is steam and that means that next week it will be.

Also this.  But that's NSFW
Posted by WinterSnowblind

Again.. It's a good time filler and very cute.  But I have to disagree with your score, it definitely seems a bit high.
I'd definitely recommend everyone check it out though and I'll definitely be buying it when it hits the Steam sales.
Would gladly have payed more for it on the DS or PSP though  :)

Posted by Karkarov
@Mesoian said:
Also this.  But that's NSFWhttp://imgur.com/zzrPT.jpg "
Nice link!
Posted by Chaser324

Great review. I'm very interested in trying this game out, but I'll probably wait and try to catch it on sale on Steam. Twenty dollars isn't enormously expensive, but I just can't seem to bring myself to drop it on this. At ten, this would probably be an instant impulse buy.

Posted by MisterSamMan

Looks interesting, great review and definitely going to try out the demo on Steam.

Posted by Chaser324

Well...disregard my previous price comment. After playing the demo, there was no way I could resist buying this game.

Posted by mushyhands

the title of the game looks too much like "rectal tear"

Posted by Enns

I was hung up on getting this or not, review helped me decide.
Sunk in two hours first time booting it up. Ugh.

Posted by mosdef

i really want to play this game but  don't won't to look like a pedo.

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