Of all the RPGamer Staff Members, I'm the least likely person you'd catch playing a PC game. I've found that most PC RPGs do not interest me in the slightest. Playing games with a keyboard is completely foreign to me, and I try to limit the amount of time I spend in front of a computer screen. If I play a PC game, it'd better have a great hook that makes me want to stay glued in front of the computer. Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale may actually be the first game that can addict me like something on a console.
" I applaud the efforts of Carpe Fulgur, as the dialog is sharp and will make even the grumpiest of gamers smile. "
Let's face the facts here: I love cute games. I love games with simple premises that don't strive to be more than they are. Deep and involving games are fine and dandy, but every so often I enjoy a title that isn't out to destroy my brain with difficult puzzles or highly involved combat. Simulation-RPGs and I tend to go hand-in-hand, as I find they are a great way to relax, go into a Zen-like state and just be one with the game. Call it nerdy, but that's the feeling I got while playing the Recettear demo.
Our story begins with Recette, a young girl whose father abandoned her to become the world's greatest adventurer. Of course, in leaving his simultaneously darling and air-headed daughter behind, he also left a hefty debt that she must repay within a limited amount of time. Upon learning this information she is greeted by the fairy "loan shark" Tear, who has been asked by the Terme Financial Group to watch over Recette, and support her in repaying the loan... and to make sure she doesn't burn her house down in the process.
The game is split into two distinctive parts, selling items and exploring dungeons. While in town, Recette can buy items from the Merchant's Guild or Market to sell in her shop, or she can hire an adventurer to take her out to a dungeon to gather items. While I was in the Merchant's Guild I bought some clothes and a long sword with the 1,000 pix I started with. From there I outfitted the items in my shop, putting the long sword in the display window, with clothes on nearby stands. It certainly did attract quite a number of customers. The game's philosophy is that of any shop owner –- buy low, sell high. Item prices can be negotiated if the customer doesn't like the first offer, but it's important to sell as much as you can, as Recette is rated on her performance as the days progress. Each day is split into "slices," so visiting a dungeon is two slices, whereas selling items in the shop only costs one slice of that day, meaning that players will have to prioritize their time accordingly.
The dungeon crawling aspect of the game is also intergral to Recette's success. By hiring an adventurer, Recette can go into a dungeon and collect items. The adventurer I met in the demo is named Louie, a starving, somewhat seedy gentleman so desperate for work that, heck, he's willing to help for free! Upon entering the dungeon, Tear explains that she and Recette are hidden within a force field that completely protects them from the enemy, but Louie isn't as lucky. In dungeons the adventurer gains levels by hack-and-slashing enemies. Enemies drop gems, and once Louie has received enough gems, he levels up. Foes also drop ingredients that are useful for item fusion. Chests are sometimes boobie-trapped, and can cause Louie to be ambushed if he's not careful. The more items found in the dungeon, the more you can sell in Recette's store. However, should the adventurer fall in combat the mission is considered a failure, and Recette will only be able to take one item back from the dungeon to sell in her store.
It is important to sell as much as you can each day. For every item sold, Recette's Merchant level will go up. Recette can also decorate her store to attract different types of clientele and to make it more appealing. As each day passes, Recette must make or exceed the amount of money she needs for each installment that she must pay. By clicking Esc to enter the menu, the game has a calendar which marks deadlines that must be met or else it's Game Over. The first goal I had to make was 10,000 pix, which I barely made in my first week. It was tough, but someone had to jack up the prices on raincoats and wool caps!
Graphically, Recettear looks like a game that was made on the original PlayStation. The characters are oversized sprites in a 3D environment, while the dialog appears in still-frames. One thing I need to mention about the dialog is that, based on what I played in the demo, the localization is fabulous. It's funny, charming, and chock-full of humor. The characters have tons of personality and charisma, especially the heroine, Recette, who comes up with some morbid ideas on how she can make money, including questioning how much money she can make by selling off her organs. Yeah, she's a special snowflake, but she's the type of protagonist I enjoy –- a little slow, but with a heart of gold.
I'm disappointed that my time with the demo was so short, as I was having a blast trying to make my daily quota. Recettear may not be a groundbreaking game, but it's one filled with tons of heart, laughter, and pie. I applaud the efforts of Carpe Fulgur, as the dialog is sharp and will make even the grumpiest of gamers smile. I'm looking forward to having a go with the final product, as I find I'm completely addicted to making me some pix. For those interested in trying out the demo, click here to give it a whirl. As Recette Lemongrass would say, "Capitalism, hoooooooo!"