Shoppe Keep 2 is the brand new shop management sim from developer Strange Fire. If the name didn’t already give it away, it is in fact a sequel and aims to be bigger and better than the first one. Featuring both a single-player and multi-player it looks to be a competent retail management game set in the days of old. Is business thriving or straight-up dead?

The goal is straightforward, build up your business from the ground up and create an established, busy town that provides the profit for you. So it is a bit more than just managing a shop, you manage the full town and upgrade it as you progress, such as opening a cook’s station or blacksmith area. I feel this was definitely the right choice as it allows a variety of different things to be done rather than being restricted to just the store.

Humble beginnings can turn into flourishing journey’s through clever strategy, you are rewarded for using your head and adapting to the changing needs of the customers. It goes beyond just selling, you are responsible for setting and paying taxes, setting prices and how much you profit on each commodity and can even choose the shelving or display units used to display your stock. This variety ensures boredom doesn’t set in by supplying a plethora of different activities that can be done, from shop-running to cooking to even hunting.

FatherEduard

Several hours were spent trying my hand at everything on offer and not once did I stop because of boredom but more because I was having a tough time stopping myself and needed to move on. It becomes addictive and more like second nature the longer you stick at it, which is impressive for a game in early access that still isn’t as in depth as others of its genre.

I was surprised by how much I was infatuated with the simplest of tasks, opening the store and just waiting for the customers to come and start purchasing just for me to replace the stock on the shelf. It’s rewarding to hear that ka-ching sound whenever you sell something. Now, I could leave the shop but there’s the risk that when you aren’t in the shop whilst it’s open, people will steal, and damn it, NOT ON MY WATCH! One tried, and let’s just say he got away because I was completely un-aware until it was too late, but since then, never again.

Freedom is something I felt throughout my entire playtime, you are able to set the pace for progression due to two things, setting the price of each product and setting how much tax you pay per sale. The latter is crazy important, all tax paid goes into the town pot, which is then used to upgrade the town which is vital as this opens up more of the map, more resources available, meaning more products, meaning potentially higher profit margins for things, etc. Pay little tax and you can just keep having a fast turn-around of stock but maybe accruing cash into the tax pot at a snail’s pace, and you get stuck in the earlier stages. I love this, you can play how you want and do what you want.

Town

To help you along the way you can rummage through the trash to find a lot of money, which is kind of funny considering the amount of money we waste as humans. But that’s a different story for a different time, going through the bins scattered across the town can lead to big bank very quickly it’s almost too easy. That being said, I feel it very much is one of those, there if you want it type things, but of course everyone is going to use it.

Early on you have limited access to what you can sell, a bottle of water, an apple, pair of boots and a face mask are the four items to begin with. As you play, more open up to you in the form of armour, weapons and even more food. You definitely get a sense of your own improvement and growth.

Combat is straightforward and easy, use a weapon of whichever variety, stone on stick, sword, bow and even staff. Different enemies will take more hits to take down, location of where you hit matters and it helps to keep your distance, just use the bow, it will save your life. So the combat does suffer from a lack of depth in the sense that the bow is pretty much all powerful as it keeps your distance whilst allowing you to deal damage. But this is an issue easily rectified down the line.

Bloodreaper

The skills system covers four areas, Business, Management, Combat and Movement. The amount of skills available are currently limited but I can see the potential for a robust thought-out mechanic. Currently there are skills for increasing movement speed, decreased rate of stamina spend, increased health and more of the usual basic type perks. Furthermore, you can potentially half your taxes, change the textures in your shop, gain a discount when ordering stock and more.  There is already enough to aid your cause in building your empire but there is space to grow with this skill system for sure.

Quests offer some direction as well as providing something to work towards in a way that isn’t intrusive to the overall experience. They feel like natural steps in the right direction rather than miscellaneous odd jobs.

One of my favourite things about it, is how good it looks without even aiming to test the upper limits of quality, instead through good aesthetic choice and design you have a game that’s just pleasant to look at. It uses a bright colour palette to make everything pop on the screen and invites you to explore every inch of the available space. The sun and clouds gently move across the sky, casting dynamic lighting and shadows which immersed me into the moving, busy world.

Dock

Multiplayer brings a team-based concept where everyone looks after the hosts business/shop and takes the same exact single-player formula but just allows more people. It works and doesn’t change it up at all, because it doesn’t need to.

Shoppe Keep 2 feels like a breath of fresh air, something you can lose yourself in and just be the best shop keeper you can be. At this current stage it is proficient enough in delivering a worthwhile adventure but there is certainly room for improvement which is apparent. I feel it has plenty more to give and cannot wait for what’s to come.

Previewed by Rhys Baldwin.

(Disclaimer: CONQUEST received a preview copy of Shoppe Keep 2, however this does not in any way affect the scoring of a game or our thoughts on the game itself. We believe in total honesty and being transparent with you.)

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