NOTE: This is a shortened review without screenshots.For my full review, please visit RealGamerReviews
This is the worst game I’ve ever been addicted to.
No, I don’t mean it’s the worst I’ve ever been addicted to a game. I mean this game has the lowest quality-to-addiction rating of any game I’ve ever played.
You play as Recette Lemongrass, a young girl doing her own thing when suddenly, a fairy named Tear (get it? Recettear) pops up and tells you that not only is your dad missing, but he’s also left a humongous debt that you have to pay off. The fairy then comes up with the bright idea of turning your house into a shop, so that you can earn money to pay off the debt in instalments. Of course, the shock of your missing papa and the huge debt does absolutely nothing to dampen your spirits and enthusiasm. You open your shop without any semblance of despair and carry on earning money for the rest of the game.
Throughout your journey, you’ll meet some very odd and annoying characters that will either help or ridicule you, none of which are particularly memorable or likeable. Thankfully, the game gives you the option to skip all the dialogue (or at least scroll through it really fast).
There are two main gameplay modes available in Recettear
– the terrible plain item shop simulator and the repetitive randomly-generated dungeon crawler. Let’s examine these two portions separately.
Firstly, the shop. This is really
mundane. You display a bunch of items in your shop and throughout the day, assuming you choose to have your shop open (which takes up ¼ of the time you have for each day), people will come in and buy it. A bartering system exists that allows you to adjust the price depending on how much profit or loss you’re willing to take. If your price is too high however, the spoilt morons in town will get unhappy and leave you without a sale. Successfully selling stuff to the idiots in town will reward you with experience that goes towards your “merchant level”, with bonuses experience awarded if you’re able to chain a few successful sales in a row. Increasing your level opens up additional features that you can play around with. For example, whilst at the very beginning customers can only purchase the items on your (limited) shelves, higher merchant levels will allow customers to request an item from your inventory, sell you items or even order multiple items that they want to pick up on another day. Other bonuses include larger shop sizes, wall/floor/counters/layout customisations and even the option to put a vending machine down, to make all the hassle of selling items just that little bit easier on you.
There are several factors that influence which kinds of customers and how many customers enter your shop. The first way is through your showcase display, also known as the “table-next-to-the-window-that-people-can-see-from-outside”. You want people to look at the junk on your table and think “Damn, I wanna go in there!” So your first instinct is to put all your expensive, high-in-demand stuff on that table, but by doing so you risk alienating the poor little girl that can’t afford anything. So in the end I have no god damn clue how you’re meant to attract the most people. The second way to influence everything is by changing the walls, floor, counters and so on in your shop, which is collectively referred to as the “store atmosphere”. I’m not 100% sure of how it works, but I imagine light and gaudy things attract little girls that can’t afford anything and call you a big meanie poo for marking up the price even slightly, and the more plain and dark ones stores some other weird population. Who knows?
So where do you get the items that you sell? Well there’s two ways to get your hands on some goodies. The first one is to buy them in town, either from the Market or the Merchant’s Guild. It works just like real life – buy low, sell high. Every so often you’ll hear a news bulletin saying that the cost of this is temporarily decreased and the price of this other thing is increased. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how to approach the situation.
The other main method of obtaining items (which incidentally also makes up the remainder of the game) involves dungeon-crawling. Rather than having your useless little girl go out and magically have the ability to fight, the game allows you to visit the “Adventurer’s guild”, in which you pick from a number of heroes-for-hire who will go do the dungeon-crawling for you. Once you’ve made your choice, you take control of whichever hero you pick and embark on what has to be the most monotonous and tedious dungeon-crawling game in existence. If repeatedly killing incredibly inspired and original enemies such as slimes, bats and bunny rabbits appeals to you in any way then, boy, you’re in for a treat. Each level is set out so that there’s a number of chests, enemies and a goal to get to, which takes you to the next level. Every 5 levels, you’ll generally encounter a boss battle.
Did I say it was monotonous and tedious? Because it is. You’ll encounter the same enemies over and over again (with slight variations from time to time). None of the boss fights are particularly interesting or challenging and although you do eventually unlock a handful of different adventurers to choose from, all of them are limited to a maximum of three abilities, none of which are particularly impressive.
Whilst torturing yourself in the dungeons does reward some goodies for you to sell, the main purpose of dungeon-crawling is actually to collect ingredients, which can be used to craft (or “fuse”) better items or equipment.
Every week or so, you’ll be forced to pay off a part of your loan. This begins at 10,000 pix (the currency used in the game) and increases exponentially for every week that passes. If at any point you fail to pay up, the game is over and you’ll restart. This would be horrible except for the fact that you restart with all of your items and upgrades. As a result, losing the game just makes it infinitely easier next time.
For those that have paid off their debt and want more for whatever reason, you’re in luck – The game allows you to play on in endless mode, start again in New Game + mode or even a survival mode, where the debt keeps becoming exponentially larger until you get overwhelmed.
All in all, there’s a lot of “game” to be had here, although whether or not you enjoy what you’re playing is another matter altogether.
To be honest, the game looks like an early PS2/Dreamcast-era game. There’s no support for wide-screen or any resolution higher than 1280x960. The aesthetic is certainly cute, but otherwise unremarkable. Also worth noting is the fact that alt-tabbing appeared to glitch the games graphics so that one half or more of the screen is completely whited out when selling items. I can’t say for sure if that happens to anyone else though.
The music is adequate but also unremarkable. I’d liken it to a poor man’s version of the music in Pokemon
Despite crapping all over this game in this review, it’s the intangibles that really matter. For whatever reason, despite all its flaws, Recettear was a stupendously addictive game that I just couldn’t put down. It takes a bunch of repetitive, unoriginal and uninteresting ideas and meshes them into a unique game I both love and hate simultaneously. All that said, I do recommend that you
give it a try, because if nothing else, it really is a unique title and one that you should experience for yourself.