The Renesmee of Item Shops: Recettear Review

The Renesmee of Item Shops: Recettear Review

After my long break while I attempted NaNoWriMo and fell eighteen thousand words short with a game-ending illness on Thanksgiving, here I am back with a new review while I put off gathering my Game of the Year thoughts.

Recettear is a hybrid between a dungeon crawler, a management game, and a roguelike as well as a bitch to spell. Recette is the daughter of an item shop owner who decides to go out on an adventure and never returns—you know, like all responsible single parents. She mopes alone until the item shop’s proprietor, Tear, shows up and demands payment. After realizing the situation at hand, Tear helps Recette open the item shop back up in hopes of getting Recette back on her feet and getting her money back. Recette must make weekly payments on time or Tear shuts the whole place down.

As for the name? It it literally Recette and Tear mushed together like an impossible-to-pronounce sandwich. It’s Twilight all over again.

Recettear falls across multiple genres while still playing from the perspective of the unsung hero of RPGs—the merchant who buys and sells all the random stuff you need. First you must manage the item shop, setting prices, haggling, and mastering the buy-low and sell-high philosophy. As you gain experience and your merchant level grows, you can take orders ahead of time and buy items from customers.You can purchase items from the guilds in town if your stock is running low, or tag along with an adventurer to pick up treasure.

That’s where the dungeon crawling comes in. In this town, adventurers give their cards to merchants, vowing to give their loot to them after finishing a dungeon. You get to play as them though, enjoying classic hack ‘n slash combat as a break from the business world.

As for the roguelike elements, if you don’t make your payments to Tear on time, the game resets, putting you back at day one. Fortunately your merchant level and inventory persist, making it easier to make the earlier payments each time.

I could never figure out whether Recettear’s difficulty had more to do with chance or skill. Because of supply and demand, items sometimes sell for either triple or a third of their normal price, meaning you can make a week’s worth of profits in a day or go broke before the end of the week. I found myself reloading old saves repeatedly, trying new strategies for each week I failed. Unfortunately the price changes are not set but instead randomized, meaning you can never count on the same circumstances twice.

One part of the game irritated me more than any other: the customers. Not all of them, of course, but this small game only has a few customers. You have the old man who thinks you’re ripping him off, the little girl who thinks your prices are unfair, the dithering husband sent by his wife, and the housewife whose rebelling against your prices. While clearly a way of saving time on character models, they still all haggle the same. If you have a day where your only customers are little girls, there is a good chance your day will end at a loss. If the old man spends all day shouting “Make it cheaper, girlie!”, you might voluntarily close your shop down.

Overall, Recettear is loads of fun, even if the odds don’t always go your way. (I almost made an “odds be ever in your favor” Hunger Games joke there, but I refrained. You’re welcome.) If you want relaxing dungeon crawls and a nerve-wracking management in your life, this is the only way to go.

Stay tuned.