Developer / Publisher – Skyward Digital
Price – US $14.99 / EU €14.99 / UK £.11.79
Release Date – February 15, 2018
Input – Tracked Motion Controllers
Play Area – Seated, Standing
Store – Steam
Reviewed on – Oculus Rift
One of the things I like the most about the shop keeping sub-genre, is that it flips the players mindset into, not what they should buy, but what someone else might be buying. On PC and console, this usually results in lots of clicking and opening/closing of menus. In VR however, you actually get to pick things up, and it really feels that much more immersive.
In the story mode of RPG Merchant, you take on the role of an apprentice merchant, learning from the owner of the medieval shop you are in. Each of the beginning levels add new items to your store or add new mechanics like thieves and muggings. Customers come in and request an item, and a timer counts down with how much time you have to get that item. This may seem simple enough to start, but as the number of items and customers in the store increases, this leads to a very frantic game. You start out with 4 items to sell, and this rapidly grows to a much larger array of items. These range from crossbows, shields and swords, to potions and mystery box items. There is also an endless mode, where you try to keep the shop running for as long as possible, which is quite difficult!
Occasionally in each stage, people will try to get away without paying and it’s up to you to quickly kill them to get your item back. The developer did a good job of varying who steals or tries to mug you. Sometimes it was a fair maiden, and other times it was an orc, there is no set pattern, and it lead me to some interesting thoughts. As shopkeeper, when the store got extra busy I found myself quickly giving out items just praying customers weren’t about to steal, as I didn’t have enough time to deal with them and serve other customers. Makes me wonder what it’s like to be a real store owner. If a customer does steal and gets away with it, the overall score at the end of the level decreases.
Graphically the game is middle of the road. Characters look like simplified Morrowind characters, and move a little awkwardly, but for the most part everything is immersive and looks good. RPG Merchant takes place only in one room, so while it would have been nice to see some extra details added, what’s here works fine and is by no means a deal breaker. The music is quite good, although if you play for an extended length of time you will definitely grow a little tired of it and be unintentially humming it the rest of the day.
There’s loads to do here, and I actually felt like I was getting a little bit of a workout. The fast pace of the game kept me entertained until the end of my play sessions, and I didn’t find myself wanting for much. Wonky character animations aside, this is a fun game that just needs a little more polish. Whether it’s the “story” mode or the endless mode, RPG Merchant is worth picking up.
What Would I Pay?: I personally wouldn’t pay more $10 for this experience. It is a fun game, even with the few minor issues I mentioned but, typical of the genre, it does get a little old after a short while. That said, if you love the job-sim genre you’ll easily get your $15 worth here with a few hours of campaign and an endless mode!
Skyward Digital provided The VR Grid with a review code for this game and, regardless of this review, we thank them for that!