by Lord Badger
Merek’s Market is a medieval shop management game from developer Big Village Games. From what I can gather this is the first game from the 2-man developer team from Sheffield. With 40 years combined experience and over 50 projects under their collective belts, they have quite the pedigree for a development duo and that quality really does show in the complete finished product in Merek’s Market.
I will admit I was at first sceptical about Merek’s Market when it first landed in my inbox. I genuinely believed that this was another mobile phone cash grab game ported to console. I can’t explain why I responded to the review request but I am glad I did.
Marek’s Market is described as “a chaotic crafting game about running a medieval shop.” and I feel my attempt to describe the multiple gameplay mechanics within Merek’s Market are going to be equally chaotic. so buckle in here we go…
- Shop Management – The shop management part of Marek’s Market works exactly the same way as any other shop management game you have played. Customers come into the shop, have a icon of a craftable item above their head that you have to make and provide them with before they get bored and leave.
- Crafting – Again your usual standard fair for a shop management game. Approach the blueprint book to see the formula for the item you want to craft and then add the components to correct workstation to create your item.
- Collecting payment – This is my first gripe with Marek’s Market. To collect payment for your item you have to meet the customer at the till and enter a 3-7 button combo in order to get paid. Inputting the combo correctly will increase your multiplyer. Input the combo wrong and your multiplyer will reset. Honestly I just don’t get the point of this other than to swallow up your time. It jars you out of your flow and rhythm and really isnt conducive to the gameplay.
- Haggling – Again this is a portion of the gameplay I have gripe with. The same as collecting payment it just brings the entire gameplay flow to a stop and is jarring. Every so often a customer will come straight to the till and request a non craftable item that you sell. These items have n prices so you have to guess at a price by the appereance of the character. If they look richer you can charge more etc. This aspect of Marek’s Market genuinely feels like it was left over from a previous build and was kept in for some bizarre reason.
- Boss Levels – As you prgress through the campaign you occasionally reach boss levels which are a refreshing and new take on shop management. Quite simply you have a massive project to craft such as a statue or cart. While buildiing this massive multi part project customers will come into the shop for normal orders. Completing these orders will freeze your clock for a few seconds and enable you to achieve gold or silver completion instead of just scrapping bronze.
All of these mechanics combine together to make up the general gameplay at a breakneck speed that in the single-player campaign feels impossible at times. Marek’s Market is really great at slowly introducing you to each mechanic before ramping up the difficulty level at a ridiculous pace.
The co-op campaign is a little disappointing as it throws in random obstacles for absolutely no reason other than to create more difficulty. I was looking forward to working in sync with my fiance ( and having the occasional frustrating argument) but instead, we were met with walls of barrels or floating tables with which to pass components to each other. This resulted in gameplay that felt artificial rather than fun.
Merek’s Market genuinely surprised me. I went into this expecting a cheap mobile game but actually found a really enjoyable single-player game and a fun multiplayer game. Yes, I have my gripes with it but I really did enjoy playing it.
Marek’s Market is a fantastic Beer and Pizza game. As in getting your friends round, grab a crate of beer and order in a few pizzas while you play Marek’s Market and you are guaranteed to have a good night. It is a wonderful game to be enjoyed with friends and a fun, challenging title to be enjoyed alone. Plus there is nothing wrong with a bit of practice in single-player before your friends come round next week 😉
I do feel that the addition of an online co-op would be welcome to Marek’s Market. While it is obviously a game designed to be played by 2-4 people in person (and that is definitely how it should be enjoyed) I would like to play online with friends on those days I don’t have (or just don’t want) friends round.
The characters and accents are funny and weird. Often over the top and somewhat Python-esque at times. The puns are strong with Marek’s Market and I fully approve. Marek’s Market is not going to smash the sales charts but it is a game that should belong in everybody’s collection. It is an incredibly well put together, fun game that anyone can pick up and play.
Overall Score – 8/10
Merek’s Market is available now on Steam for PC, Xbox family of consoles, PlayStation 4 and Google Stadia priced at £14.99/$19.99/€17.99.