Recettear is a fantasy game about money. You’re a cute anime girl, your father has wracked up a huge debt, and it’s up to you to pay it off. Through a mixture of salesmanship and adventuring, get as much money as you can ASAP or your home will get repossessed and you’ll be forced to live in a cardboard box.
Recettear is basically two games in one. The first game is a store sim. Buy low, sell high, and rake in those high profits. By successfully guessing how much customers are willing to pay, you can gain XP which will raise your Merchant LV. As your Merchant LV goes up, you’ll get wealthier customers and unlock new gameplay features like item crafting and store customization.
The second game that makes up Recettear is an Action/RPG. Your main character is a little girl who can’t fight for herself, but she’s perfectly willing to hire adventurers to go collect treasure from dangerous dungeons for her. At first, you only have access to a simple swordsman, but by meeting certain conditions, you can gain the ability to hire more advanced adventurers like a thief who can create doppelgangers and a mage with deadly attack magic.
The dungeon designs are random and not particularly interesting, but the combat is fun and random events help to keep things interesting. At set floors, you’ll run into bosses who are generally well designed with varied attack styles.
Both the store sim sections and the Action/RPG dungeon exploration are pretty fun, but combine the two into one game, with each mode helping you out in the other and you end up with a game that’s a blast. This is definitely a case of the whole being more than the sum of its parts.
For an indie game, Recettear looks and sounds quite nice with graphics and music similar to those you would expect from one of the smaller professional Japanese RPG companies like Gust or NIS. The game can be difficult at first, with tight deadlines to pay back your debt and powerful monsters to fight, but if you fail to meet a deadline, the game actually becomes noticeably easier since the game starts over but you retain your LVs and items. Thankfully, the game includes a button to skip cutscenes so replaying the same sections is much more enjoyable than you would expect.
Recettear does not support widescreen displays, which is a slight mark against it. On the plus side, it supported my gamepad with no problems and it never froze or crashed on me.
Recettear will probably take most people around 10 hours to complete the main storyline, however there’s plenty of post-game content to discover after that so you’re definitely getting your money’s worth.
All in all, Recettear was a very pleasant surprise. Fun gameplay combined with an enjoyable script result in a highly addicting game. Carpe Fulgur – the new localization company behind the English version of the game – has already earned themselves a fan with this, their first release. Very highly recommended.
Recettear comes out on September 10, 2010 for the PC and can be purchased digitally on Steam, Impulse, and Gamersgate for $20.