In a world where monsters and colossal beasts roam the forests; where brave souls venture out to see the world, will you be the one who… profits?
If you’ve ever fantasised about being the charming shopkeeper in an RPG, or wanted a game where you don’t need to monitor every minute, then “Merchant” fills up that role quite nicely.
Released on 21 December 2015 (factcheck needed), Merchant has developed quite a name for itself. Within the three weeks of its release, it has managed to find its own community online, with a subreddit for discussion and its own Wikia page to boot.
Merchant is, as the name might imply, about becoming a merchant. You start off with a sizeable amount of capital and your job is to just earn big bucks from what you have. There are no clear objectives or goals, just simply to earn as much as you can.
You begin by sending one of your heroes to gather materials from the monsters and inhuman races, then craft them into items using your 5 craftsmen. Those can be either sold to unique customers (who drop by every now and then) immediately or to the general public after a period of time. Rinse, repeat, lather and that pretty much sums up the game.
Merchant, at its core, is just about resource management: money, materials, time and inventory slots are essentially the key things you’ll be working with. It ultimately boils down to how you choose to use your resources: Do you churn out crap-tons of low-level items for a steady profit or investing into higher-level items for a bigger profit but a slower production rate? Do you invest in some good gear for your heroes or leave them be and pray they don’t die and use up some of the hard earned gold?
This is, by no means, a very visually-pleasing game. A lot of what you do is on the HUD (head-up display), with different tabs you can change to. It’s pretty much stale movement: There are epic boss battles your heroes can take up, but since you’re playing as the shopkeeper, all you get are the beaten and battered characters and their loot to tell the story. Don’t bother wondering about sound either: You aren’t getting any aside from a looping track.
Also, I have to admit that after spending over a week on the game, I got quite bored of playing it. I found that the game can get quite repetitive and it turns into quite a slow grind after some time, where I found myself going through the same monsters with different skins pasted over. Combined with the lack of fantastic visuals, “Merchant” possibly turned my time with it a chore.
That being said, Merchant isn’t terrible. If you’re looking for a quick-paced RPG or rogue-like like I was, you might be in the wrong place. The main meat of the game is working out which strategy you think would be the best and how to improve productivity and efficiency with what you’re given.
Another point to praise is the sense of realism; whether hunting golems and goblins count as realistic is up to you. Hear me out – I’m not going crazy. Once you get past the entry levels, missions and crafting take up quite some time and it does feel like you’re waiting for your partners to finish their work so you can start on yours.
Replayability in Merchant is severely lacking right now, especially their end-game content, mainly due to how new it is. Once you hit a certain point, the game has very little for you to do. However, it’s actively getting new updates and the developers aren’t intending to stop anytime soon.
Overall, Merchant was a good experience for me. While I definitely enjoyed the brainstorming sessions it provided, the repetitiveness and the dull grind it came with made it too hard for me to get through. Still, I’m looking forward to the new content coming out in the next patch and see if they can throw in something that can change my mind. Currently, it’s free on Google Play but no news on an Apple release date.
DANamic.ORG score: 3.5/5
Get “Merchant” on the Google Play Store here.