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Game Info:

AL・FINE
Developed by: Crimson rabbit
Published by: Sekai Project
Release Date: November 11, 2016
Available on: Windows
Genre: Simulation
Number of players: Single-player
ESRB Rating: Not rated
Price: $14.99

Thank you Sekai Project for sending us this game to review!

A few years ago we reviewed and enjoyed Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale which is a game based on running a store to pay off a debt.  AL・FINE borrows many gameplay elements from Recettear, but differs by focusing more on running the store than looting dungeons.  Dungeon exploration is still an option, but it’s reserved for adventurers that you hire out and collect their loot three days later.

The story begins with a boy named Louis whose parents have been away for a couple of years.  In their absence he literally runs into a sprite named Alice who demands that he repairs her expensive orb that was broken in the ordeal.  Since Louis can’t afford to repair her orb he’s forced to re-open his parent's store to earn money.  The store is named AL・FINE.

The merchant’s guild helps store owners know their rankings and provides renovation services to allow for store customization and expansion.  The bigger the store the more in dues you’ll owe every ten days.  The game’s simple interface makes it easy to know how long you have until your dues are owed, so be sure not to go overboard when purchasing inventory that day!

AL・FINE
Highlights:

Strong Points: Cute shop simulation game that has interesting characters
Weak Points: Totally copies off of Recettear but isn’t as good; fixed resolution that did not go full screen properly with multiple monitors
Moral Warnings: Alcohol references and drunkenness; some of the females flaunt their “assets” to increase sales; language (d*mn)

Besides the merchant’s guild, there are other places to visit including a church, a bar, the town square, the market, or the adventurer’s guild.  The days are split into three segments (morning, afternoon, night) and many of the places are available for just the morning and the afternoon.  Whenever you leave your store to buy items or to gather information, time will pass and it will subtract from your ability to sell items and make a profit. 

After the store closes for the day you can head to the bar and talk with the leader of the merchant’s guild to gather information on the other store owners. Perhaps you can learn from some of their tricks to make your store the highest ranked of them all!  If your store does well, other merchants will take notice and will challenge you to a competition to see who will earn more profits in a given time.  

My first challenger was a very well-endowed female store owner who ran a shop called the “Milky Pod.”  Her bust size was the brunt of many jokes, but she knew how to use her “assets” to earn sales.  She kicked my butt the first time and I got a Steam achievement for losing to her.

Since your goal is to make money it’s important to understand the concept of buying low when there’s little demand and selling high when there is.  At the end of each day you’ll get graded on your store’s performance.  On the normal difficulty I typically received a C.  

There are different types of goods you can carry including food items which sell well, but spoil after a few days.  Weapons and armor don’t go bad, but they fluctuate in demand.  Merchandise is a safe bet, but they garner the least amount of interest.

AL・FINE
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 72%
Gameplay - 14/20
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 6/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 87%
Violence - 10/10
Language - 7/10
Sexual Content - 6.5/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Customers come into your store hoping to find specific items and if they don’t they’ll leave with a storm cloud over their head.  Content customers will have a heart or a music note thought bubble.  The weather determines how many customers will be stopping in your store.  It’s best to do your shopping or information gathering in stormy weather. Waiting for sales can be a bit boring; thankfully you can speed up time in the game’s interface.

While the game’s interface is generally easy to use, I did experience a couple of glitches.  This game ran windowed by default and when I tried to make it go full-screen on my multi-monitor set-up, it stretched over both monitors and was unplayable.  It seemed to run fine in the windowed mode though.

The anime style graphics are cute and the characters are very expressive throughout the game’s dialogue.  Louis is a pushover that does pretty much whatever his friends tell him to while Alice speaks her mind and upsets rival store owners in the process.  The quirky characters have a lot of personality and are likeable.  

The sound effects and background music are fitting and pleasant to listen to.  Sadly, there isn’t any voice acting to speak of.

Overall, this is a cute simulation game that could be used as a fun way to teach the basics of economics.  I had fun running the store, but I enjoyed the dungeon exploration that Recettear offered to break up the monotony.  Both games are worth considering if you catch them on a Steam sale.  If you’re limited to picking just one game, I recommend sticking with Recettear.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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