Shoppe Keep PC Review
Well, it was bound to happen. After decades of questing through dungeons, massacring great beasts, looting amazing items, and plumbing the depths of unknown mystery, you’ve grown weary of the rough-and-tumble life of the haggard adventurer. What’s a legendary Paladin (or Archmage, or Master Rogue) to do? The makers of Shoppe Keep have finally given us an answer and I’ll give you one good guess as to what it is. That’s right, opening up a shop(pe) and supplying the next generation of proud dungeoneers with potions and shields and swords, and sometimes a healthy dose of rough justice.
I’ve done my time in retail over the years, so I’m always both excited by and wary of shop simulation games. Lean too heavily on the realism and I may feel like I’ve just punched the clock, go too far into the fantastical and you lose the joy of running an actual (virtual) store and the sped up feeling of accomplishment that comes along with it. Shoppe Keep strikes a nice balance between the two, while adding in a few subtle wrinkles to help the player get some extra mileage out of their gaming experience.
The premise is straight forward: you’ve opened a shop(pe) in your stereotypical medieval fantasy town. You start from the ground up, arranging displays and ordering inventory, desperately waiting for customers to start trickling in. But before too long (if you play your cards right) you’ll be swamped with adventures stopping by your shop(pe) between quests to stock up on those must-have items only you can provide.
Of course, everything can’t be biscuits and gravy, as in life so in retail. Some customers are rude simply for no reason. They knock over your carefully arranged items, they loudly disparage your carefully curated pricing system, some of them even dare to steal from you! This is without even mentioning the literal roving barbarians who will stop by from time to time (more frequently once business is booming) to simply destroy this wonderful retail space you’ve worked so hard to build. But this is where my undeniably favorite features come into play, abilities I could only dream of while dredging through my worst retail knightmares: you have access to cold steel, and you have access to (relatively) powerful magic.
When someone carelessly knocks over your carefully arranged anti-frost potion display or hurls that newly-stocked buckler shield across the room, you simply give them a mighty whack of your sword (that’ll learn them). When some filthy peon tries to run out the front door without paying for your merchandise you chase them down and you use a carefully timed lightning spell to fry them in the middle of the street. Barbarians come raiding? Slaughter them all and drag their bodies outside your shop(pe) proving that age-old adage: “let the buyer (or raider) beware”.
The actual retail management portion of the game is pretty enjoyable, too. It’s definitely not the most easy breezy gameplay in the world. Once you get a healthy customer base going you will be spending a decent bit of your time fixing up shelves and re-upping your inventory, but I this is a retail simulation we’re talking about here. It’s not doing its job if it’s not simulating what retail actually feels like (sometimes). Thankfully, the day to day upkeep of the shop(pe) never became overly tedious.
Between side challenges and creatively expanding my inventory and display sections I was plenty engrossed in Shoppe Keeper without ever feeling like I was doing actual work. I want a fun simulation of working retail, not the grueling experience of actually working retail. And this game certainly is a heck of a lot more fun than my last gig.
Graphically speaking, Shoppe Keep isn’t going to blow your mind but it really doesn’t have to. The cell shaded environments, figures, and items strike a fine balance between cute simplicity and cartoonish embellishment. There’s a fun cutesy esthetic at play here that fits the game’s quirky tone and goofy concept to a tee. The Renaissance Faire soundtrack is pretty amusing as well, even if it doesn’t go as many places as it could.
I would say if you enjoy business simulations in general, or if you’ve ever wondered what life is like on the other side of the sword counter, then you should give Shoppe Keep a try. It’s a fun little ride that contains all the joys of retail and not too many of the pains. And, if you do ever find yourself becoming bored, you could always just slaughter every customer in the shop at any given time. If you’ve ever worked retail yourself, fulfilling this familiar fantasy alone is worth the shop(pe) price.