Merek’s Market from Big Village Games Ltd is a game in which we play the role of Merek, who – as some have already guessed – has his own store. Our task is to run the title property through the execution of orders and customer service. Along with the progress, our stall grows, we receive new recipes and challenges.
If you are fans of the Overcooked series, you will feel at home very quickly. It is true that pots, burners and cutting boards have been replaced here by ovens, crafting tables and anvils, but the core of entertainment is almost identical – we run between raw materials and crafting equipment, fighting against time and impatient customers. Following the kitchen hit is evident and there is nothing wrong with it, as it was made quite solidly. The gameplay, however, was enriched with a few original ideas, which were supposed to diversify the fun. And how did it actually turn out?
The first novelty that will strike our eyes is that the delivery of the finished product does not mean that the order has been completed. After the customer picks up the product, he will go to the cash register, where he will pay the amount due, and downloading it requires entering the word that appears above it. It is true that the words are not too many, they are repetitive and we learn to click them automatically quite quickly, but considering the fact that the cash register is usually quite far from the place of receipt of the order, the entire mechanics prolongs the completion of the order unnecessarily. What if a customer who has already received their goods becomes impatient before paying? Well, it just comes out without paying and all the work on the whistle. Logic? Who is it for?
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Another original idea are cutscenes involving a conversation with some of the market’s visitors. In this case, instead of creating items, we listen to the potential buyer and, after a short chat, we offer him one of eight goods, not only completely different from what we create, but also undemanding to be made. Most often, you can easily read the intentions of the newcomers, but sometimes they speak so vaguely and quickly that we are unable to understand them, and the text disappears before we support it. In such situations, you can shoot with what the person came for, because mistakes cost us nothing. Selecting the right article activates a simple bargaining mechanic, which consists in marking on a short line how much you want.While the idea itself is quite a nice escape from the constant creation of the same little things, small challenges in their rules are trivial. But don’t think that this means almost automatic execution of them, because while it usually is, some people can really be a pain in the blood. The best example of this is when we need to fill the progress bar by quickly pressing two keys simultaneously. Not only does the line shrink to the zero state at such a speed that we have to impose a pace that strains our hand, but the required keys change over and over again, and too slow to switch easily destroys all the effort. When, after doing one such marathon, after a while I saw the same challenge again, I just wanted to turn off the game and curse the whole world.
Let’s go back to the basic gameplay mentioned at the beginning and the inexorable comparisons to Overcooked, because here too there are some small drawbacks. In both productions there is a mechanic of accelerating the movement of the protagonist controlled by us. While in the kitchen game it works on the principle of sudden jumps, which minimize precision, thus forcing you to move at the usual pace, in Merek’s Market we simply get faster, without any consequences. So if we can run without losing precision, why use standard motion at all? Another problem also concerns the speed, but this time required from us by customers, because they are extremely impatient. Some goods take quite a long time to make, and it often happens that before we can finish them, the ordering party will simply get bored and leave. Supposedly, in Overcooked, sometimes it will not be possible to make a dish on time, but unlike kitchen struggles, the ratio of the time needed to make goods to the patience of customers is so unfavorable that at later stages it is not possible to get a three-star rating, and certainly not to serve all customers.
How does an angel sing?
Audiovisually, Merek’s Market is not particularly impressive. Musically, it is not tragic, the thread that accompanies us during the game corresponds with the constant rush, but it is completely non-catchy, just not disturbing. In the case of working noises, it is much better, each tool sounds distinctive and it is not difficult to guess what is currently being used. It’s also not bad with dubbing, although as I mentioned, some characters speak extremely fast and slurred. The statements are full of humor, although very simple, so we clearly feel that the whole thing is not too serious, but it is unlikely to provoke a burst of laughter.
How about the graphics? The surroundings are quite fabulous and colorful, and you don’t even mind that it is quite lopsided in the approximation.There are no fireworks, although the whole thing is neat and transparent. Well, maybe with the exception of the protagonist and customers, because they are simply, without exaggeration, horribly ugly – unattractive, clunky, painfully simple and simply nasty. Fortunately, it doesn’t show up that much with the camera up, but every time you zoom in … Uh!
The game suffers from its problems, practically every element of the mechanics that distinguishes it from the above-mentioned more famous prototype is either unnecessary or not very well thought out. However, Merek’s Market definitely defends itself in the case of the cooperative mode, which can give a lot of fun during joint meetings. Although there is nothing to be ashamed of when playing with a multiplayer game, is the change of the place of operation from the kitchen to the shop worth the interest in the work of Big Village Games Ltd, when a more famous, similar title is available at a very similar price?