Welcome to our Is that a good free mobile game series. In this series we look at games from both the App Store and the Play Store and review them. At the end of the article we try to answer the question – Is the current game a one of the best smartphone games? Is it a good free mobile game? For this review, we’re looking at Merchant!
What is Merchant?
Ever wanted to just quit your day job and live as a cat running your own shop?
Well, even if you’re not a cat person, there’s probably some other form you can take in Merchant, Retora Games’s mercantile-centric RPG, the focus of today’s review.
Merchant is what mobile games should be about: (fairly) simple to grasp, streamlined and compelling, providing entertainment for as long as you need it, since you can find yourself playing for a couple minutes while at the bus stop or a couple hours (when you eventually get caught in the game).
As the name would probably make it clear, you’re a merchant trying to make yourself a nice, decently sized fortune. To that extent, you’ll be hiring heroes, crafting equipment and potions and, obviously, interacting with customers, be it buying or selling stuff you do or don’t need. That’s the whole point of being a merchant, right?
You get a variety of recruitable heroes, from sneaky, shady Rogues and Assassins to burly Warriors and Berserkers and even a Mage (or three). They’re like your little private army to send forth to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women. And get you shiny loot. Don’t forget about the shiny loot!
Does Merchant have any micro management?
While you don’t outright babysit your heroes for hire, you are responsible for their well-being. Remember all that shiny loot they’ve been bringing back? Well, this is where all that comes in. More often than not, your underlings will be bringing back raw material that you’ll be turning into more usable stuff (unless you’re selling it to the highest bidder). It doesn’t end there.
You can’t just hand your Warrior an iron ingot and send him out to kill the Spider Queen, can you? No, of course you can’t. You’ve got to turn that shiny lump of iron into a pointy blade. Or a sharp axe.
Does Merchant have interesting loot and gear?
Again, it doesn’t stop there, and I’m loving the crafting system.
As with pretty much all RPGs, each class has its strengths and weaknesses and you’ve got to pick your gear accordingly, or else you might find yourself recruiting yet another milkdrinker that you’ve got to gear up and train, and that’s just going to eat into your funds.
Long story short, you’ve got your “basic” 3-tiered armors: light, medium and heavy alongside a variety of jewelry, weapons and potions, with each and every one of them being there to make sure your hirelings provide a constant supply of profit. Gotta spend money to make money!
Does Merchant have quests?
A nice little addition, although somewhat cliché, are the “daily” quests. More often than not, it’s a matter of gaining x amount of gold, crafting some stuff (that you’ll eventually either sell or use for your little army) or plain old collection quests.
Since we’ve touched on the subject of collection quests, that brings us to the enemies we’ll be facing throughout our conquest of the merchandising world.
Each region you’ll be sending out troops to consists of mostly single battles (where you only need to send a single hero to fight, depending on the monster’s strengths or weaknesses), culminating in a final boss battle where you’ll be sending out the best of the best (for the shiniest of loots!).
Another key element that took me a bit to figure out was the fact that you really want to plan out your army. You can’t just have one of each class going out and killing things randomly. More often than not, you’ll be looking for materials to craft better gear for your mercenaries, so you’ll want to pay attention to what each encounter gives as a reward.
You’ll also want to look at what resistances each enemy has, since you don’t want to send out a Warrior to fight an enemy with a high Defense stat and a low Magic Defense. It all starts making sense after a while, but it’s something you can definitely glance over in the early stages of your playthrough (and, as was my case, fail miserably and find yourself with a dead Hero and barely enough gold to hire a new one).
The strategic aspect doesn’t stop at managing your heroes for hire and hoarding materials. You’ve got to create your own economy.
Do you just send out your minions to kill the same monsters over and over again and sell lots and lots of low-tier materials, items and consumables, or do you go for broke with the more challenging foes, hoping for even greater profits? That’s mostly up to you and what your end- game is.
Do you want to live comfortably or do you want to go full-Ferengi and maximize your profits at every possible step?
How is Merchant monetised?
By now you may have noticed I’ve not talked about the price of all of this.
Well, this entire experience can be yours for the low, low price of… FREE. That’s right. Merchant is a FREE Android (and iOS, and Windows) game, with on-demand Ads (which will give you a handful of gold, if you need it) and a bunch of microtransactions, tastefully implemented.
While the devs were gracious enough to provide us with a key for the Unlock All (which is currently 25% off!), I’ve found that this is completely optional and doesn’t really take away from the overall enjoyment of the game. Unless you REALLY want to play as a black cat (which you should. Just sayin’).
Is Merchant a good free mobile game?
Overall, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Merchant, even though I find that the mini tutorial you’re greeted with is a bit lacking in explanations for later mechanics, but if you’ve played old-school RPGs, you should be getting the hang of it really fast.
For the foreseeable future, Merchant is definitely a game that will hang around my phone, since I’ve personally found it a compelling source of entertainment, specially on my (fairly long) commute to work.
How to download Merchant?
Merchant is available on the iPhone and iPad via the App Store (also available on M1 Macs), on the Play Store for Android and Steam for Windows. If you want to play the game on an M1 equipped Mac, you can read our article on How to play iOS Games on a Mac.
This review was produced after experiencing Merchant on Android with a unlock key for all the features provided by Retora Games. In the interest of maintaining impartiality and providing a fair and accurate review, Retora Games was given no editorial input, copy approval rights or early preview of this review.Best Smartphone Games
Where to next?
Congrats, you made it to the end of the article where we asked the question: Is Merchant a good free mobile game? I hope it was beneficial to you. It’s also beneficial to us to have you stick around the blog more. We have more reviews of good free or premium mobile games, such as Thumper: Pocket Edition or QB Planets!
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