Lemuore no Renkinjutsushi review

Have you ever picked up a game you thought was poorly-designed, poorly-conceived and poorly-executed…and ended up playing it for 30 hours?

The simplest games tend to be the most addictive, I don’t know why. The concept of this game is simple, the design is simple and the gameplay is simple too, maybe that’s why I found myself rubbing my eyes at 4am wondering where all the time had gone. Remyuouru no Renkinjutsushi is a DS port of a free Japanese game of the same name. I have helpfully included the link to a download if you want to check it out, but you’ll have to figure out how to run and play it yourself: Link.

Now then, how to describe this game… Well, there’s a (rather awful) game out there called “Final Fantasy: My Life as a King.” If this game is ever localized, it could be called “My Life as a Shopkeeper” (right before it’s sued into oblivion by Square-Enix, of course). You play as Tico, an alchemist with bad spending habits who wakes up one day to find herself 100,000g in debt. At the urging of your apprentice, you open up a general store to buy and sell items in order to pay back your debt.

There are a couple of ways to get stuff to sell:

– The easiest is to just  buy items from town.
– You can also buy farm animals like hens and cows, which will produce eggs and milk for you to sell every day.
– Additionally vendors will drop by your store once in a while selling items, lottery tickets and newspapers.
– You can direct your slave/apprentice Ruvel to pick up a few for you every night. Usually low-price, low-quality forage items.
– Once in a while a character named Theo will drop by and make you play a mini-game. If you win, you get some free stuff.
The most lucrative way, though, and the way to get the best items, is to pay adventurers to go out and forage for you. There are two in this game, Theo and Fil. They’re pretty costly in the beginning, but as they level up and learn to go to more places, soon they’ll be bringing in items faster than you can sell. Before too long I had completely stopped going to the local store.

So anyway, you’ve got your items and you’re selling them, making a tiny profit on each item. Your bank loan is only 100,000G, so you can make it in a few game months quickly if you haggle with customers constantly and spend sparingly. But doing that would be boring, wouldn’t it? The game title means Alchemist of Lemuore for a reason, and that reason is, once you sell 200 of an item, you get to refine it into another, better item. For example you sell 200 candles and suddenly you can make lamps. Or 200 oranges and then you can make bottled orange juice. For some items, if you sell 200 of the resulting product, you can refine it even further. And further. And make OODLES of cash in the process.

It reminds me a lot of the earlier Atelier games, which is probably why I played it so much. And you don’t have to go out and find the items yourself, so you can spend even more time on synthesis. Synthesizing takes up some of your “life”, so in the beginning you can’t do too much. Before too long you’ll get an (utterly broken) forage item that refills your HP for free, and then you can really go to town on those items. I estimate there must be at least 500 different items to make, and that I barely scratched the surface, but I’m having fun so no need to rush.

By the time I stopped playing Lemuore no Renkinjutsushi I had millions in my bank account and had poured even more millions in investment funds into the town. As I said, the 100,000G bank loan goal is something you’ll get fairly quickly, but the game introduces a further goal: to get 500,000G (I believe?) to fund research by your apprentice’s annoying little brother into a new item. Along the way he comes up with all kinds of unreasonable requests (like “make me some mahjong tiles so I can play with my friends”), and all that takes time to complete. You’ll get that done eventually, and after that there’s no point playing except you’re a completionist. I’ve never been one, but I might go back and make a few new things here and there one day.

Other random points about the game: Once you sell 100 items, the stock automatically refills every morning. If you sell 100 cigarettes, every morning they’ll deliver between 1 and 20 cigarettes to your store to sell, unless you stop carrying the item. This saves a lot of time. Good addition, except you can’t choose to receive 0 items, you always have to get at least 1. What if I don’t want to stock any that day? Well, too bad for you.

Once you sell 500 items, the stock will automatically refill throughout the day, every time you sell out. Again, you can’t choose 0. And what if you don’t want to sell any more, you want to switch to another item? Normally when you run out of an item the game clock pauses and lets you replace them, usually with something that sells better. If it auto-refills, it buys them at the market price, which means you make less of a profit…blah, blah, blah, you’d get a better idea if you actually tried the game. The link is up there.

The music is very meh. In fact I turned it off very quickly. The sound effects are scary, everything sounds like someone being slapped. *pow* Haggle and fail? *pow* Sell some items? *pow* Change a few things? *pow!* In fact I think that’s the real reason I turned the sound down. The graphics are what you’d expect of a free game: not that good, but not terrible either. The character designs are cute though, although the variety of customers is very small.

All in all I had a wonderful time playing this game, and if you’re a fan of sales simulation games (like Recettear or Atelier Viorate), I’d tell you to get it. But – and I hate to do this to a game I like, but – you might want to get just the free game instead. It’s 95% the same as the DS port except for a few additions. And it’s free. And you can have it now. So go for it!

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