Game: Homework Salesman by Diedrupo and Ronove
Summary: Homework Salesman is an extremely well-designed “life simulator” that can entertain players for hours upon hours.
The story of Homework Salesman is…well…actually, there isn’t one. At least not the kind you might be used to. It’s got a premise – young adult Reniat Leminghouse returns after ten years at boarding school to find her hometown in economic decline. She begins to work on its behalf while also trying to make a name for herself. If you’re looking for an epic story with complex themes, look elsewhere. The game’s creators describe it as a “life simulator,” modeled after games like Rune Factory and Atelier, and as players start to grasp all the possibilities of Homework Salesman, they’ll see just how accurate that is.
If the Roald Dahl-esque names like Reniat Leminghouse aren’t a clue, the tone of the game is consistently lighthearted. There’s even a few gags referencing people in the RM community. As for Reniat, she’s so consistently unimpressed with her surroundings and neighbors that I was almost expecting McKayla Maroney to pop up as her face graphic. During her adventures, she can travel with a few equally quirky companions, such as the meek little blond boy Eagen or the hapless alcoholic mercenary Xebec. As the days go on, more details about the setting and characters emerge, but in general, you make your own story with this game.
The day-to-day system is the heart of this game and, in my opinion, its most impressive mechanic. Anyone who’s ever attempted to pull off a day/night system or some other way to mark the passage of time while allowing for non-linear gameplay knows just how hard this is. Homework Salesman pulls it off and makes it look effortless.
A meter with a percentage is displayed in the upper left corner of the screen. Every action undertaken by the player, whether it’s fighting a monster or picking up a stray herb off the ground, brings that meter down a little bit. When it hits zero, you’ll be too tired to keep adventuring and it will be time to call it a day. As long as you avoid setbacks like losing a battle, which instantly sends you home, each day of the game’s timeline can allow for a lot of adventuring.
If you’re not on board for this sort of experience, the days will get tedious fast. However, those who tend to lose themselves in games with a lot of possible activities will feel right at home. I’ve heard anecdotes of people logging over 40 hours into this game and I can believe it. So what takes up all that time? A lot of exploring and quests. You’ll start getting quests almost immediately, beginning with RPG staples like killing a certain amount of monsters or collecting a certain amount of items. The grasslands adjacent to the village allow for easy exploring and when you’re ready for a bigger challenge, venture to the nearby Colorous Cave. This vast dungeon (perhaps too vast, I’m constantly getting lost and turned around in there) features all sorts of surprises.
This is part one of a two-part review. Next time, I’ll get into the art style and the various other mechanics of the game. For now, let’s hear your thoughts. How many hours have you sunk into Homework Salesman? What do you make of its method for handling the passage of time? Sound off in the comments!