Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Merchant, a mobile game

Grade: C
Platform: Android, IOS
Genre: bar filling, resource management, "rpg", idle game
Play Store: Free
Apple Store: Free
In App Purchases: Yes
Pay to Win: No
Released: 2016

I'm not really a fan of the bar filling and waiting idle games, but Merchant gets points for at least not insulting me by throwing anime tits in my face in a pathetic effort to get me to play  (looking at you Shop Heroes).  Not that I don't enjoy boobs, or even anime boobs, but when that's all a game has to offer you know it isn't going to be a very great game (still looking at you Shop Heroes).

Instead, Merchant goes for a sort of pixelated retro look, it pulls off well enough. These days that's pretty much the go to graphics style for a game where the designers didn't have a big budget, and it isn't inherently bad.  Merchant looks good with it, and has a wider variety of graphics than you might expect.

The game is fairly standard for the genre. Juggling limited inventory space is the main challenge. You use ingredients to make items and send out upgradable heroes to get more ingredients.  Everything takes time, because, well, I've never really been sure why they make everything take time in games like this, especially when unlike so many this one doesn't offer a way to exchange real world money for getting out of the time (though you can speed things up a bit for RL money).

For a game of this genre the in app purchases aren't bad at all. You can buy speed and inventory boosts, as well as extra inventory slots, and that's it. And the inventory slots you can buy with in game resources.  Pay to win this is not and that's refreshing.

There's a random element to building your items, they're ranked, I suppose in theory on the usual A through F scale but I've never seen a ranking below C, and like a lot of games it has the extra special S rank above A.  Higher ranked items sell for more, and have a better chance of coming out with extra attributes.

Likewise when you send your minions off on material gathering quests they are graded on their success, higher level minions tend to get higher grades and thus more and better stuff.  As they gather there are occasional special levels, boss fights, and so on.  As they get higher level you can move on to other regions with different, higher level, materials that cost more to craft but have higher selling prices.

For an idle tycoon style game, it ain't bad.  The quasi-RPG elements are enjoyable enough, complete with boss fights yet.

Like all games of this type it eventually becomes boring because really it isn't a game.  There's no failure condition, you just slowly progress ever upward until you hit the top.  Which isn't bad, it's an enjoyable enough way to spend a few minutes waiting in line, or on the toilet, or whatever.  But it does mean that eventually every player will get tired of it and quit.

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