Retro Review! Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale
The Good
  • Recettear is a charming and unique take on the hack and slash genre.
  • The combat is simple but rewarding.
  • The game does a good job of staying light hearted and humorous.
The Bad
  • Combat can get repetitive.
  • Once you learn the amounts each shopper will pay, the game can lose its challenge.
85%Overall Score

(Editors Note: Welcome to Retro! This is where we will look back at games from our past, be it a year, or a decade ago, review them, discuss them, or whatever we want to do with them. We will also talk about Retro toys, comics, shows, really – whatever we want to, because we are the inmates running this madhouse and that is what we will do. Enjoy our first Retro Entry!)

So you’ve managed to fight your way through a dungeon rife with monsters and evil minions, defeated the big bad evil guy, and proceeded to loot and pillage everything shiny within sight. You laboriously haul your new found wealth back to town, eager to power up by buying a bunch of new equipment. As you leave the town on your next adventure, you stop and wonder, “What is it like to run an items shop for adventurers? How do they stay stocked with an infinite number of swords and potions, and what do they do with all the useless trinkets I sell to them?” If this paragraph describes you, or you simply enjoy dungeon crawling games with an interesting twist, Recettear, an Item Shop’s Tale may be the game for you.

Developed by EasyGameStation and localized by Carpe Fulgur Recettear places you in the shoes of Recette Lemongrass, the daughter of a shop owner who has mysteriously gone missing. However, before he left to go adventuring dear old Dad neglected to mention one important fact about the shop. He is amazingly, painfully, hilariously in debt. When the company’s debt collector, a fair by the name of Tear arrives, Recette decides to run her father’s item shop to pay of the debt (lest everything she own be repossessed and she is forced to live in a box). With a cheer of “Capitalism, ho!” Recette, along with a reluctant Tear head to the merchant’s guild to acquire goods to sell on their opening day.

Many things go into running a successful item shop, and the game does a good job of easing the player into it. To draw people into the store you want to put interesting looking items near the windows so passersby will wander in. The difficulty comes when these passersby actually look to buy things. They will haggle over every item. Your job is figuring out, based on what they say and who they are, what price they will be willing to pay. Similarly, when someone is looking to sell, you are tasked with offering as little as possible for it, in order to maximize future profit. Occasionally, customers will come in to place orders for future dates and you will need to be very sure you will have the goods by that date, lest you wind up dealing with an angry customer.

The haggling process is clearly designed and fun to carry out.

Recettear is divided into days, and each day is divided into 4 sections. At the end of every week Tear will take payment towards your father’s debt. Each week, the minimum payment increases, ensuring that the difficulty is ever increasing, but never beyond your means to accomplish. With each quarter of a day Recette can open the shop, go out on the town to stock up on information and goods to sell, or (with half a day’s time) hire an adventurer to go dungeon crawling to find untold treasure.

The town’s Adventurer’s Guild is home to all sorts people who are ready and willing to accompany you on a dungeon crawl. The first that you encounter is Louie, an upstart looking to gain admission to the Guild by overcoming the “Hall of Trials.” When you elect to hire an adventurer you gain control of them as you fight your way through the dungeon. Tear and Recette follow along, protected by a magic bubble that allows them to move unnoticed by monsters, but leaves them unable to interact with anything in the dungeon. Each adventurer that you can hire has their own unique style, strengths, and weaknesses. Recettear is an RPG at heart, so as you overcome enemies with each adventurer, they will gain levels and power, eventually able to tackling increasingly difficult dungeons.

The important bit of this whole dungeon crawling thing however, is the loot. Just like in any good RPG, monsters occasionally will drop items as they die. Your inventory space is limited, so knowledge of the value of items and what sells easily is important. Make it of the dungeon relatively unscathed, and all the items you can carry are yours. Lose all your HP and you will only be able to carry an item or two as you flee. Strong dungeoneering skills, as well as the ability to balance time between acquiring items and actually selling them is key to successfully running your shop. The various dungeon’s layouts are randomly generated each time you enter them, ensuring the experience does not become stale.

Each character has unique stats and special attacks. Comboing kills on certain types of enemies also provides bonuses, adding some depth to the strategy.

Once you get back to town after your adventure, you can choose to give some items, such as weapons and armor to whatever adventurer accompanied you, go to the merchant’s guild to craft component items into something more valuable, or simply place the items out for sale in your store.

The game’s shop mode also features RPG elements. Recette has a “merchant level” that allows her to upgrade the store with new decorations, a larger floor plan, and more item space. She gains XP by successfully selling or buying items. Consecutive successes increase the bonus. If you manage to get a sale on the first offer, as well as charge a fair price for the item a “just bonus” is also given. This encourages being more careful with haggling, as the value lost by failing a sale is more than just the money.

Recettear, an Item Shop’s Tale puts an incredibly unique twist on the classic dungeon crawling RPG formula. With a memorable cast, fun, interesting gameplay, and a great sense of humor the game is very worth the time. The game also ensures strong replay value with randomly generated dungeons and the addition of a survival mode where you are tasked with making ever larger payments to service an infinitely large debt. Overall, Recettear is a wonderful, unique game that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys RPGs.