Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale • Page 2

Shelf help.

You could hit up the market and merchant's guild to get the goods, but you decide to explore the other half of Recettear: dungeoneering.

While Recette's no kind of hero, the folk who shop in her establishment obviously are. Make friends with one of them, they'll offer you their official Hero business card, and then you can go questing with them. You can kit them out with the latest and greatest merchandise from your store (assuming you haven't sold it to them already, perhaps at a discount) and then everything you recover from the dungeons can be sold at, as Tear puts it, 100 per cent profit!

Perhaps the biggest surprise that Recettear keeps under the counter is that the top-down, dungeon-crawling action is more competent than any number of games I could mention. It's fairly bare-bones, but the way your chosen hero moves and attacks has an excellent weight to it, monsters all boast unique attack patterns and the experience gems that go spraying out of creatures with each hit are a great reward for your continued exploration. There's more grinding than I'd like, but it is at least a satisfying grind. You can't wait to get back to town with your new cache of goods and get them on the shelves.

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The game allows serious favouritism amongst the heroes. Woe betide adventurers who piss you off.

At the end of your long day spent buying, selling and killing, you realise you haven't checked the calendar yet. You do so, and are politely informed that you only have 4 days to raise a preposterous 200,000 pix for the next repayment of that sodding loan. It's impossible. You'll never be able to make that much, that fast. Or will you? Capitalism, ho!

So that's the core of Recettear. It's inventive, addictive and a ton of fun. This game got me talking to myself, both snarling in displeasure and speaking nonsensical quips like "Aw yeah" and "That's how we do where I'm from" with each tiny victory, which is probably the single most obvious sign that a game's succeeded in getting under my skin.

There's just one more thing I want to add to this sales pitch of mine before we finish, and that's that Recettear isn't just a great idea, it's a labour of love. For the first 30 or so hours of your life that Recettear will happily absorb, it's constantly adding new features, new characters, new plot lines, new items and new dungeons. Rather than letting you get tired, Recettear just gets bigger and weirder, and then even bigger and even more weird. It never feels like a developer trying to entertain you, it feels like you and the developer are going for a ride together, and neither of you know where you're going to end up.

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This is my shop. Don't touch anything. Shoplifters will be prosecuted. Prosecution is where I take my axe and kill you.

Similarly, the American translators did a fantastic job. While conversations have a habit of dragging on for a little too a long, they also have a habit of being laugh-out-loud funny. The game's cast is made entirely of solid characters, and Recette's incompetence is compensated for by her cute tic of inventing new words. The world charms you, which in my case was a problem because I wanted to undercharge people I liked.

But the characters could all be repulsive, squealing mutants and I'd still love Recettear because of its mechanics. Every in-game day is a tiny gambling session, where a confluence of factors can result in you having the best or worst day ever. Maybe there's a hike in sword prices, and your favourite hero comes and buys that legendary sword you have in the window. Perfection. Maybe the next day you go on an adventure with him and his new sword, he gets panned by some horrible new boss and you go home with nothing. Horror. But however your day goes, you want just one more.

Recettear is one of the best indie games to arrive this year. Buy it, and you won't regret it. You might even love it. But one thing's for sure – you'll never look at a JRPG item shop the same way again.

9 / 10

Read the Eurogamer.net review policy Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale Quintin Smith Shelf help. 2010-11-17T13:00:00+00:00 9 10 Follow Eurogamer.net on Steam to get more PC game recommendations

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