Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale

Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale

Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale is an incredibly charming and original game that’s only slightly more fun than working an actual retail job. The amazing localization, inhumanly catchy soundtrack, and sheer audacity of the premise are immediately compelling, but the joy disappears a few hours into the 15-20-hour campaign. It should be no surprise that alternating between a dungeon crawler and an item shop management sim is going to leave little depth to go around, and the dungeon crawler gets the short end of just about every stick in that regard.

That’s somewhat excusable, since loot acquisition is the real goal of the adventuring segments. What’s not excusable is how unbearably repetitive both sides of the experience become. Despite an ostensibly complex system of haggling, customer preferences, and market demands, running the shop is just a matter of repeating the same pattern ad nauseam. Delving deeper into the dungeons introduces only stronger palette swaps of existing enemies, rather than anything new and regardless of the dungeon’s theme.

Design missteps try my patience further. The “2D sprite vs. 3D model vs. a different kind of 2D sprite” art style looks sloppy and wreaks havoc with the hit detection. There are wide gaps in the survivability of the playable adventurers. Most of the bosses have weak points requiring some ingenuity, while others merely charge you and demand brute force in return. The final straw was realizing that despite every mechanic being over-tutorialized, many of them are taught incorrectly. There’s an interesting, quirky story hiding in the margins, but I’m not sure it’s worth pushing through to discover it.

5/10
5/10

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