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[personal profile] greyliliy
 While I was on the Switch store, I was looking for a Stardew Valley/Harvest Moon like game to play while my computer was out of commission, and honestly wasn't finding much. But Marenian Tavern Story kept popping up and I debated for a while if I wanted to try it or not. My experience with Kemco Games can be summed up with getting a copy of Asdivine Hearts from a Humble Bundle and playing it for ten minutes before I stopped and never came back to it. The reviews of their games are typically mixed with some finding them nice as short, mindless little RPGs while others don't care for them (or how many this company produces at the rate they do).

And you know what? I'm really glad I picked it up. I've only played for about two hours, but it won me over with the first adorable cutscene where I laughed at the ridiculous plot. This might be the first farming/cooking life RPG sim where the nature spirits aren't your friend. :P

The plot: Patty, the daughter of a well off restaurant owner, is out for a walk with her brother Gino and her butler. While out, they break a statue and his brother feeds a tiny mouse they find. It turns out that mouse is the God of Poverty and he's now cursed their entire family! Their restaurant goes under, their house gets taken by the bank, and they're out on the streets until the good mayor of town lets them set up shop in an old inn. Patty has to work her way from the ground up with a new restaurant and make sure the God stays happy with offerings so it'll leave her family alone!

The story is really simple and so are the characters, but it's very cute and very welcome to play if you want to zone out--which Farming RPG life sims are made for (though this is mostly a cooking game).

I will admit though, I finally caved and bought the game for Dante, one of the characters on the cover. Brooding bachelors who wear mostly black have always been a weakness and he doesn't disappoint. (His obvious little crush on Patty makes it all the better.) But I also really like Erika, Dante's childhood friend, and the small town we're in. Loving the characters is a must in a game like this and they all won me over pretty fast (even the God of Poverty, the cute scamp!).

I think my favorite part of the game, however, would have to be that there's no TIME LIMIT or STAMINA. You're thinking "But those are the cores of games like this!" and you know what? It's nice to not have them.

Instead, the game still has the familiar repetitive routine, but you're not pressed for time. The typical flow of an in-game day goes as follows: 
  • Make some breakfast (or use leftovers) to feed your party to level them up & grant them buffs (and later, feed the God so he leaves your business alone.)
  • Pick a field to gather ingredients in (regular gathering + drops from monsters you fight in the turn based combat)
  • (Later in the game, check your fields.)
  • Shop for ingredients you might need.
  • Cook.
  • Set up shop
  • Open shop.
  • Collect your money & the day is over!
It's a nice rhythm that you can take at your own pace and the majority of the game play comes from the cooking menu. This game has one of the most detailed cooking systems I've seen in a while that is really fun to work out what you need in a way that's less frustrating than figuring out recipes in some Harvest Moon games. 

For example, sometimes your recipes will give you "hints" and it'll give you half the ingredients you need and you fill in the rest. It's rather nice and I like how you need to make the individual parts before you came make full dishes (You need to make a rice ball before you can make a plum rice ball, etc.)

The combat is a little tedious since the monster spawn rate is a little high (I will confess, I make full use of the Auto Battle feature, save for the one boss fight I've had so far where I actually needed to pay attention and use items to heal), but it's still a good way to gather ingredients and I like looking at the sprite animations.

Speaking, I do really like the art in this game. The world looks good, the character sprites are adorable, and while the character art isn't the best, it's still got a nice look.

Overall, I honestly really enjoy the game and I'm glad I gave it a go. I look forward to seeing what else unlocks as I progress through the game. :D

Edit: Apparently this is a spiritual successor to a 3DS title called Adventure Bar Story. Marenian Tavern Story is definitely an upgraded version of that one from what I can tell, but it makes me want to check that out too since it's only $5.99.
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