Recettear takes place in a fantasy setting, and places the player in the role of Recette Lemongrass, the daughter of a shopkeeper who has left to be an adventurer but has mysteriously disappeared. As her father was in great debt to Terme Finance, she is forced by Terme's representative fairy, Tear, to rebuild her home into an item shop to repay the debt. Recette reopens the shop as Recettear, a portmanteau of hers and Tear's names. Recette adopts the catchphrase \"Capitalism, ho!\" as the player continues on with the story. The game's story is presented through text dialog and two-dimensional sprites, akin to a visual novel. There are some occasional spoken lines in Japanese, which remain untranslated in the English version.
The game is structured on daily cycle, with the goal to have repaid the debt of 820,000 pix (the game's currency) by the end of one month. Each day is structured into fixed periods. Time passes when the player operates the shop, goes adventuring for items, or returns to the shop after visiting other shops or guilds in the town, limiting the total number of activities that can be done in a day.
When adventuring, the player recruits a member of the local adventure guild. The player has access to only one adventurer at the start of the game, but as the game progresses, new guild members with various skills and abilities can be accessed. Through Tear's magic, Recette is invulnerable in the dungeon but cannot interact with the creatures within it, and instead watches over the adventurer, helping to collect items dropped by creatures or supplying healing items. The player has a limited amount of storage they can carry from the dungeon, and should the adventurer fall and cannot be healed, the player must drop most of their inventory to allow Recette to carry the adventurer out of the dungeon. Each dungeon features a number of randomly generated dungeon levels, along with a final treasure room at a specific depth. Items found in dungeons can be used as equipment for the adventurer, sold at the shop, or combined with other items to make more useful and valuable goods. The adventurer gains experience points and gains levels as he or she kills monsters, making the character more effective in deeper dungeons.
Should the player miss the debt payment deadline, Recette is forced to sell the shop and live in a cardboard box; the player can choose to restart the game retaining their merchant level and items, but not pix amount. Successfully completing the game unlocks three further game modes: \"New Game+\" which restarts the game but allows the player to keep their items and merchant and adventure levels from the completed game, \"Endless Mode\" where the player can continue the game indefinitely without having to pay any debt, and \"Survival Mode\", where the player must try to complete ever-increasing debt payments on a weekly basis. Survival Mode offers two versions, Normal Survival, where the items and levels are retained week to week, and Survival Hell, where these do not carry onward.
Dice and Light-Williams took the opportunity to establish some unique style to their localization efforts for Recettear. They modified the original Japanese script to replace some of the unique aspects of Japanese to ones that made more sense in Western regions. For example, as the game is set in a seemingly European village, the original script's mention of rice and tofu felt out of place, and Carpe Fulgur replaced these with more appropriate foods. They also modified Recette's repetitive use of the word \"yatta\", a Japanese expression similar to \"yay\" in English, with variations on the word \"yay\", like \"Yayifications!\", or other made-up affirmations, such as \"Yeperoni!\". Much of the time in translation was taken by the item list, and specifically the addition of plural nouns which do not exist in the Japanese language. Dice was initially worried that some changes to the general script necessitated by localization would be criticized, but found after release that their resulting script was well received. Dice admits that they did not fully explain the keyboard control well enough (such as the \"Z\" key being the default action key for most dōjin soft games but uncommon in Western titles), and believes that some players were lost because of this.
Recettear's Western release was well received by critics who considered the game a surprise title. The Metro acknowledged that while the idea of a game around running a shop would be the \"dullest activity possible\", Recettear's shopkeeping is a \"strangely fulfilling activity\", with some deep gameplay aspects that are not apparent on an initial play. Quintin Smith of Eurogamer considered the shopkeeping activity rather addictive, similar to \"a tiny gambling session, where a confluence of factors can result in you having the best or worst day ever\", leading the player to play \"just one more [turn]\". Richard Cobbett of PC Gamer noted that \"while you do spend most of it doing the exact same simple things, doing so quickly becomes a frothy, capitalistic bubblewrap\". IGN's Charles Onyett noted that, once the player has learned the habits of various characters, the price haggling \"degenerates into a thoughtless, mechanical exercise\", but random fluctuations in the market such as the result of news events or trending items helps to keep the shopkeeping interesting.
What I think is that this whimsical indie tale of manning the tills of a semi-stereotypical RPG item shop is about ten times bigger than I'd imagined. I thought I'd got the measure of it from the demo, but what seemed a small and simple thing unravelled and expanded throughout - every time I sat back and thought \"that's it, I'm ready to write this up\" it threw in a little something else.
Throw in the creation of uber-items - both for profit and to equip your hired dungeon-runners with - and it's almost fully into Proper RPG territory. It suits the game entirely, and elevates it from good-natured gag to something that's better than half of the RPGs it's affectionately lampooning.
The gameplay of Recettear consists of running an item shop. You buy and sell items from the market or the Merchant Guild and place them on display in your store. When arrangement of the store is complete the store can be opened and customers will come in and ask to buy or sell an item, at which point haggling over the price ensues.
In order to pay back the loan, she will have to engage in good ole child labor by converting her home into an item shop to aide all of the passing adventurers on their journey to be lost at the top of some volcano. So what does Recette call it Why, Recettear, of course! After all, they are partners, and partners love blending their names together to create hard-to-pronounce titles for games -- I mean, stores!
However, in order to get the harder-to-find items that these two places won't provide, you have to venture outside of town to do some dungeon crawling (a staple in any RPG, certainly). You can also find another customer around town who may be selling these items. The shop also buys your items, but since you do own an item shop, it is inherent to stick to selling things at your own store for maximum profit. The game takes extra care in reinforcing that mindset, to make sure that anything that isn't a necessity should be sold at your shop.
The guild shop also provides a feature called a \"Merchant Level\". Every time you prove successful in buying, trading, or selling items, options become available for Recette to redecorate or even expand the item store, as well as become privy to some of the higher ticket items available at the guildhall. Later on, players will also be able to identify mystery items they find on their travels, and even be able to fuse items together to create materials that wouldn't normally be found. Finding and following recipes is the name of the game in this regard -- what you put in the furnace reflects what you get out of it.
Things become dramatically more challenging in the last couple of weeks in the game where the demands are much higher and the opportunities are not really presented: time management is key to being successful at this game, to say the least. If you fail to make the payment at the end of the week, the game resets itself back to the second day, the day after you officially set up shop. You keep the items in your inventory, the items on the shelves of your shop, and the adventurers keep their levels, but you have to start all of the quests over from the beginning, which can be pretty frustrating especially if Recette is even a few pix away from making payment.
The \"W\" key opens the main menu, where you are able to see a full view of the calendar with important dates circled and explained. At the beginning of the game, the only date highlighted was Payment Day, which is apparently when the next payment for the loan is due. On the right are the different menus: Items, Encyclopedia, offering descriptions of all the items you have come across in the game; Options, where you can control Music, Sound, Voice, Message Speed, and can toggle Unread Text Skip; and Save, which offers up to 100 slots for you to record your progress (I am sure that in the game such as this, creating different saves as you mold the item shop is essential in case you want to go in different directions). What I began to notice as I was playing this game was that for a lot of the actions, it would describe it such as \"Button 3: Item Details\". It wasn't until I had to take a break from the game that I noticed there is a Configuration tool separate from the program itself. Inside, you are able to map the keyboard controls, and it even offers support for Gamepads. It even lets you choose hotkeys for quick actions. There are also a wide amount of graphical options to change and toggle, including the FPS limit for those on a slower computer, screen resolution (up to 1280x960,