Learn the business of running an RPG item shop and do some dungeon-delving of your own on the side! Capitalism, ho!
Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is an action RPG and business simulator hybrid. How does that work? Well, it all begins with a fairy loan-shark coming to collect on a debt! You play as Recette, who gets stuck paying off her father's loan after he went to fight a dragon. Tear (the fairy) suggests converting your home into an item shop as a way to make some money.
As you earn the respect of the local guilds and townsfolk, you'll meet a variety of colorful characters. The dialogue is full of humorous moments and plays up the tropes found in classic RPGs quite well. I'm not overly fond of anime (I can take it or leave it), but the art style works well for this title.
To succeed as a merchant, you'll need stock. While you can always purchase from the market or merchant's guild, the better items will invariably be found inside of dungeons. To get to the good stuff, you can hire adventurers to face the danger for you. The dungeon-delving portion of this title is an action/adventure quite similar to the early Legend of Zelda titles. The controls are good and the dungeons are full of little surprises.
The business side of the game is easy to understand and more enjoyable than you might first expect. In fact, I found myself quite excited to rearrange the displays after coming home with a pile of new items! Haggling with customers can be kind of hit-and-miss, as it's tough to really read their moods sometimes (at least early on).
One of the more interesting aspects of the title is deciding what to do with the better items you acquire. Do you keep the best gear to provide an edge when dungeoneering, or do you put it in your shop to make that loan payment at the end of the week? As if that weren't enough, you have to manage your time accordingly too - juggling trips to the market, dungeon-delving and of course actually opening your shop's doors. By the way, I didn't even get around to the game's crafting system (called fusion), which allows you to improve items. Suffice to say, there's a number of things here to keep you busy.
Recettear is an interesting combination of time/money management and adventure that comically explains how those shops in your favorite RPGs got started. I greatly enjoyed what I played in the demo and I should add that it's currently 80% off during this year's Steam Winter Sale. If you're interested, now might be a great time to get it!