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Recettear - Demo Impressions

Carpe Fulgur is one of those strange success stories that I can't quite figure out and wish I knew how to reproduce. By all means, they deserve it, but I still can't quite figure out how they got the word of mouth ball rolling. Carpe Fulgur, you see, is an independent start-up company that - well, based on their one not-yet-released title, anyway - translates indie Japanese games to English and releases them stateside. Their initial title is Recettear, which is decidedly niche. Only a demo has come out thus far, so it may be premature to declare them a success, but they've had lots of favorable internet press and plenty of downloads, so I think it's safe to say that they'll keep on rolling. I can't help but wonder how they managed to accumulate such internet goodwill, though.

That aside, I am entirely glad they did, because it ended up bringing the game to my attention, and I downloaded and played through the demo. There are lots of games out there that I like, and there are plenty that scratch my often peculiar video game itches, but only rarely does a game come out that feels like it was made for me, specifically. It's not often that I play a game that I could see myself making, that I wish I had made first. Obviously, I wouldn't be making such statements were Recettear not one of those games. I've even blogged about making this game before. The Atelier Iris series is essentially an old school, low production values, 2D Japanese RPG that sucks balls... except it has crafting and you sell shit at your store. More or less. I loved crafting and selling items, as well as gathering raw materials... I hated the game, the plot, the characters, and everything else.

And thus, Recettear has excised everything that I hated about Atelier Iris and left only the beautiful, sparkling gem at the center of all that shit. The game is a parody that doesn't come close to taking itself seriously: you're a young girl whose father went off to be an adventurer, and, surprise surprise, didn't come home. In order to pay off his mountain of debt, a debt collecting fairy offers to help you turn your house into an item shop. You can buy low, sell high, haggle with customers, buy from customers, and, in a nice change of pace, travel into dungeons with hired adventurers to collect both items to sell and raw materials to craft items.

It's everything I want, and nothing I don't. The game is comical, not serious, and even if it's not laugh out loud funny, it's pretty amusing. Recette, the heroine, has a battle cry of sorts: "Capitalism ho!" Between that and a simple description of the game, I was sold. There are some things about the demo that I didn't care for - like the inability to play the game in full-screen mode. Even if it is at 640x480, I'd rather have pixelated graphics than chat windows in the background and other reminders that I'm on my computer playing a video game. It just kills the immersion and escapism of it all.

The gameplay is terribly fun if you're anything at all like me, though. Features are limited in the demo - you can't craft, for example - but the list that the give you makes me salivate. I would love to get my hands on the full release, and thankfully, there is finally news on that front. The game will be released on Stardock's Impulse platform - one that I already have installed and quite like - will cost $20, and will come out September 10th. Supporting a pair of independent studios while getting a game that feels like it was built for me? A win-win, without a doubt.

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