Review by Kieran sutton
Shoppe keep 2 is a beautiful insight as a fantasy land capitalism simulator stretching beyond a typical trading and crafting game and extends into a deep study of economics, magical portals and skeleton slaying. Developed by Lithuanian based Strange Fire Studios I had the good fortune of getting a sneak peek at what I believe to be a gem of the early access hoard.
The character generation is the first part of this game that surprised me; you’re given plenty of options in hairstyle, tattoos and bear like chest fur as well as the literal chest your in-game orders will arrive in. there is a short tutorial in which a fancy-man in a gleaming white suit shows you the basics of economics, included but not limited to: sweeping floor! Stocking items! Bashing thieves with hammer!
You’ll then create your own company and are dropped in the fantasy town with a simple instruction. Make money! As well as a journal of some loose objectives and quest options available to help along the way. There are plenty of characters around to provide a chuckle or crafting recipe; like this right honourable charming gent right here.
The visuals are nothing to gaze at; yet I do believe Strange Fire have developed their own indie style. It’s simple, and the buildings are cosy enough for me to simply enjoy jumping around the town listening to the medieval soundtrack. Each item looks unique and the foes you’ll encounter have an element of variation which to be honest you rarely even see in the upper tier of RPG games. The rude comments from customers reminded me of a simple peasant from Fable mixed with the sentiment of an old GTA pedestrian. The violence is comical enough to be light hearted, except the death animation of a human being, who’ll morph and fold before your eyes like an eldritch horror having a seizure in a vacuum.
The basic premise carries you through the first few hours simply restocking your store, purchasing nifty items to make your store really stand out and performing some basic trader type quests to further your plans of a corporate led dictatorship. Just like real capitalism early on instead of investing time into the skill tree (if like me you kept forgetting there was one), you can find ample profit searching through the trash of others before diligently paying your taxes! The more taxes you pay, the more upgrades the town receives, changing the look, feel, number of potential customers as well as upgrading some new exciting alternative business ventures: the cook, blacksmith and alchemist.
Once your town has gained a few levels you can venture outside the town walls to experience what else the game has to offer. This is where the scope of the game surprised me. You’re left with a whole island to explore with multiple zones, factions expecting your patronage (and not liking the other), a couple of mysteries and plenty of creatures and materials to kill and collect. Each item discovered fills a step in the ladder of the crafting tree and enables you to further bolster your backlog.
This surprising shopfront sim dashed my expectations and stole more time than I’d care to admit. Extremely engrossing and will have you running across the map searching for the latest best-selling staff or dealing with the ever growing demands of a fantasy business magnate. A little work to be done on the performance and pacing but overall a funny, light hearted yet enthralling economic, action adventure with huge potential including multiplayer functionality. I’ll be keeping on eye on this one, for sure.
Overall score 8/10
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