In any role-playing game, as the main character, you are bound to get a load of items. Some items you keep as they are useful, but the vast majority of the items are useless crap which you sell to any shop around you. In Recettear: An Item Shop Tale, you are the shop owner!
In this twist of a game, you are Recette. An optimistic, slightly clueless girl (yeah, this game is from Japan), Recette woke up one day to find a fairy, Tear, in her house. Tear then proceed to tell Recette that her missing adventurer father took a massive loan payments from a bank and Tear is there to repossess the house. However there is still some time before the payment is due so Tear recommend that Recette's house be turned in an item shop as a way for her to raises the necessary funds to repay the loan.
Now I love games that twist convention like this, but a friend thought the game sounded dull. I mean don't most shop owners just sit and wait for customers to come in? Not so in Recettear.
In Recettear, each day is broken up into four periods, and you need to decide how best to spend each period of time. Opening the shop brings in customers, exiting the shop opens up access to other shops in town that'll sell weapons, armor, and upgrades that can potentially help you turn a profit. However each action takes up one period of the day.
You will also meet up with various adventurers and become friends with them, though these meetings also mostly takes up one period of the day. Meeting them is important as you need them to go on dungeon crawls. As Recette and Tear can't directly attack, adventurers you meet throughout the game will clear the dungeon and Recette and Tear can pick up the treasure that enemies drop . The problem is that each dungeon crawl takes up two period of the day so you need to balance the time need for the dungeon crawl with the needs of keeping your shop open for business.
In short, Recettear: An Item Shop Tale isn't just a game about buying low and selling high; it is also a time management game with combat thrown in for good measure. And it is anything but easy.
Outside all the things you need to learn (news bulletins, trendy items, merchant bonus, levels of Recette and her adventurers friends, special orders, haggling with customers), there's also a high degree of difficulty in repaying the weekly loan. Initially it's a small sum, but by the later weeks of the month, you need to cough out 200,000 and 500,000! Should you fail, the game will restart at the first week, though with your characters keeping their levels. How anyone can beat the game in the first play-through is beyond me! I know; I tried.
The game may be hard but it also deceptively simple. I think this is mainly due to the cutesy anime look and the great sense of humor of the game. Recette is the likeable dolt kept in line by the responsible Tear and the interaction between this odd couple is funny as hell. The story may be pretty simple but the conversations between the duo and the supporting cast are top notch.
Also once you complete the game, Recettear: An Item Shop Tale unlock many game modes like a survival mode, and an endless mode where you can continue on selling and adventuring without the debt repayment structure.
Of course the game is not perfect. Although there's a good variety of adventurers for you to choose from, it's hard to choose anyone but Louie the Swordsman. The first adventurer you get, he's really the only one you really need. Although the rest of the adventurers has some good abilities, when you first get them their levels would be way below Louie, so there's no incentive to use them.
Also the dungeons and the combat can become repetitive in the later stages and many times I would rushed through them just to get to the boss. I mean there's only so many times you can kill a bouncing jelly before you get tired of it. A greater variety of monsters would have served the game better.