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Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale (PC) artwork

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


"Everyone salutes the knights in mythril armor, the adept mages and wise wizards, the swift thieves and rogues, and dual-sword wielding rangers of the elvish variety. They praise the questing heroes because they had the best weapons and armor and gained just enough levels to pummel that malevolent otherworldy being who threatened to enslave humanity."



Everyone salutes the knights in mythril armor, the adept mages and wise wizards, the swift thieves and rogues, and dual-sword wielding rangers of the elvish variety. They praise the questing heroes because they had the best weapons and armor and gained just enough levels to pummel that malevolent otherworldy being who threatened to enslave humanity. Who was it that put that broadsword in their hands that allowed them to easily dispatch the group of orcs guarding the cave, or sold them that handy silver axe that felled the giant condor boss at the top of the tower? Who was it that had the wise notion to stockpile the healing potions that made that impossible dungeon a memorable event, or allowed warriors to buy ten ice rods so they could kill that FlameEater so easily? This game, Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale, is for you, item shop owners! It's your opportunistic minds and enterprising dreams that have saved the world countless times. It's you who have sustained countless adventurers with your wide variety of battle gear, antidotes, healing potions and sometimes spells.

Raise your tankards high and swill the ale deeply. This is for you, O item shop owners.

Recette and Tear, the game's protagonists, show us that NPCs are real humans with real problems and not just nameless souls who live behind a counter and smell like old cheese. They show us that shop keepers have mouths to feed and 700,000 gold debts to pay off in a month to fantastical banks run by fairies.

I realize that you have to be sharp-witted to run an item shop. You don't want to keep selling cheap stuff and never advance. You want to make sure your family has the best, or that the bank doesn't repossess your home, or that you can afford more lines for next week's big binge. You want to expand your store, buy new equipment and give your store that aesthetic value it needs to thrive. So you go out and buy the most expensive stuff you can, stock piling in goodish quantities and leaving yourself a strategic amount of “just in case” money, then selling said merchandise at a mark-up. But it wouldn't be fair to charge everyone the same mark-up, or so you feel. That little girl isn't going to pay a 20% mark-up for a book called Booze of the World, but that rich dame will gladly spill an extra 40% for it. All those unfair prices came as a result of your basic need, your business smarts and your understanding of the human psyche.

Selling for a more reasonable price might give you an edge as well. It'll tell others that you're a kinder, gentler shop owner and that you'll cut people deals. It'll bring more customers back and keep them coming, boosting that little level gauge at the bottom of the screen which allows you to upgrade more pieces of your store as you gain more levels.

People pour in to see your expansive collection of goods, they start asking for recommendations and placing orders. You learn from their needs and buy accordingly, making sure everyone is accommodated and that your pockets are as full as they can be. These are guaranteed sales, after all. I know now that a smart shop keeper always buys a wide variety, the whole spectrum. Why only specialize in weapons when some customers want food or clothing? Others might also want a ring or a beautiful trophy, and you are there to oblige them with that. For a price, you are the one that helps fill the materialistic gap in everyone's lives.

Sometimes a shop keeper can't rely on wholesale alone, and has to hire an adventurer to do the work for them. What they find in the dungeons they can sell at 100% profit. Oh, you sly dogs! And I bet you have loads of fun out there guiding your adventurers into dungeon-crawling and hack 'n slash madness, what with the tight controls and simple and addictive combat. Those shop keepers would be all the wiser to sell their adventurers powerful weaponry that they can then use while adventuring. That's another steak to throw on the fire, or another chunk of your massive debt stripped away.

This is assuming such keepers have time to venture out. You are all so busy, keeping your shop running and trying to make that demanding goal of paying a large debt that there's really isn't time to do much else than sell until you've filled your quota in the hectic world of retail. That isn't a problem, because I've also learned that your line of work can best be described as addictive and engaging, enjoyable and quirky. It's a fast and hectic world to work in, and boy does it make the time slip away much faster than my line of work. +

So for you, shop keepers of the RPG domain, be proud of your work. You may not have fired the arrow that killed Smaug, or used the sword that killed the Shoggoth in the water shrine, but you damn well sold those items. Where would we be without those sales? Why, the world would be overrun with mid-game bosses, talking dragons and hordes of stock enemies. So next time you make a safe walk home to kiss your significant others and your children good night, pat yourselves on the back and remember that iron shield you sold that crazy adventurer, because you just saved his life and allowed him to kill the knolls that were about to raid your village.

Thank you, O item shop keepers.

Closing note:
Joe does not thank the wandering item salesmen of Drakkhen. Your waywardness, worthless random item selection, unreliability, strange sparkling, and speech that consists of droning, guttural moans and groans has sent many an adventurer to his grave. For you, we bid you not raise your tankards in salute, but would rather you go into the swamps in the east and drown yourselves.

Rating: 8/10

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (February 28, 2011)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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honestgamer posted February 28, 2011:

I hope you're up for a line crit...

It's through Recette's naďve sense of trust and her partner's near bookwormish attitude, though, that make Recettear all the more enjoyable. It shows us that you shop keeps aren't just nameless NPCs who live behind a counter and smell like old cheese, but have lives and personalities.

These two sentences feel like a break from the rest of the paragraph that they conclude. I hope that pointing them out so that you read through again is enough to let you see what I mean, as it's difficult to put it into proper words. You're a good enough writer that I suspect you'll figure it out.

You want to expand your store, buy new equipment and giving your store that aesthetic value it needs to thrive.

Here, "giving" should be "give."

Your note at the end for the Drakkhen salesman was clever, but there need to be a few fixes:

Your waywardness, worthless random item select, unreliability, strange sparkling, and speech that consists of droning, guttural moans and groans has sent many an adventurer to their graves. For you, we bid you not raise your tankards in salute, but would rather you go into the swamps in the east and drown yourselves.

That should be "many an adventurer to his graves" or "many adventurers to their graves" if you prefer, not a mix of the two. Also, the second sentence should be: "For you, we bid you not raise your tankard in salute, but would rather you go into the swamps in the east and drown yourself." Unless you're referring to multiple merchants, in which case "salesman" in the first sentence of the paragraph should be "salesmen."

By the way, this was an interesting review of a game I've been meaning to play, one that I will play if I ever have enough spare time. I was going to play it and review it here, but then EmP came along and beat me to it. That's my recollection of things, anyway.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted March 01, 2011:

Thanks, Jason! I can't believe I missed some of those errors. The second or third paragraph you were referencing I originally intended to condense down. I appreciate the critique.

I do recommend playing it. I picked it up during the last Steam sales for a good price. It's a pretty short game, but there's quite a bit that can be done after the main story as well.
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honestgamer posted March 01, 2011:

Short doesn't bother me (see: my review of Game Dev Story) as long as there's reason to keep playing it after you "beat" it. I'd say brevity works to a game's advantage these days for me, more often than not. I wish more developers would realize that... or that more gamers would realize it so that more developers could act on pre-existing realization. Or something.
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jerec posted March 01, 2011:

Short games are good between all those big 30+ hour games.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted March 01, 2011:

Indeed. I appreciate a good short game now and then. That one just caught me off guard as to how short it was. Still, you can keep doing more after the closing credits, only without stringent demands.
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Masters posted March 01, 2011:

Incidentally, how long is this short game?
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JoeTheDestroyer posted March 01, 2011:

Mostly depends on whether or not you get a game over. It took me just under ten hours to finish it, but had I not gotten the one game over and just hauled right through it, it probably would have been more like six or seven. I think the main reason I found it short is that I was expecting something like twenty. Not that I'm saying the shortness is necessarily a flaw.

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