Final Profit: A Shop RPG Review
Magic, money, and a tongue-in-cheek criticism of capitalism
As more and more micro-genres become established in the indie scene, a wider variety of games are able to meet success online with developers taking their own swing at personalizing what was once niche. The "shop RPG" has become one of these celebrated genres, typically recognized by having the player take on the role of a character that's traditionally a forgettable NPC. This subversion of genre and inversion of expectation can create exciting, and interesting, games that still fit within the defined metrics of the RPG.
Final Profit: A Shop RPG is the newest game from solo developer Brent Arnold, who has worked on games such as Necrobarista and spent years developing the prototype systems that would eventually make their way into the game. Presented as a merchant life-sim RPG, Final Profit differentiates itself with its critical approach. Instead of playing as some small-town shopkeeper, you play as distinguished but down-on-her-luck Queen Mab, who has been exiled from the lands of Fae. Mab, now known by the alias Madama Biz, aims to save the realm from the Bureau of Business by beating them at their own game—owning a substantial chunk of finance.
In Final Profit's world, capitalism and coin are stronger than dragons, swords, or magic. The machines of industry has flattened once-magical realms and turned the world upside down, granting the Bureau of Business ludicrous power that cannot be toppled by any other nation-state. Madama Biz hopes to prove the rest of the Fae wrong and attack the Bureau where it hurts the most: their wallets. By engaging in the very thing that Queen Mab despises, she hopes to prove to her own homeland that there is a way out of the clutches of coin, and that she can use both business savvy and absurdism to conquer the previously unconquerable.
Final Profit does a great job by introducing the player to its systems slowly. You start a tiny shop in a small town where you learn how to manipulate clients and customers toward substantial profit. Along the way, Biz must rack up colossal debt, make dirty deals with the Bureau, and make concessions with her own conscience as she realizes how difficult it actually is to beat corruption at its own game. Madama Biz does not play by the rules, of course—her customers, her goods, and her systems are all influenced by magic, social identities, and local availability. By working around the Bureau and emulating their ways, Biz learns how to make money and elevate herself.
Most of the gameplay in Final Profit is shop management, where the player must acquire coin by buying and selling goods. At first, this is simple, but as your shop grows and your debt mounts, you must explore the nearby cities, towns, and countryside for items and goods that can rally the shopping experience. As Madama Biz's storefront becomes one of the largest around, she also must stay out of the Bureau's way, and contend with the suspicion and derision of her own Fae people.
Much of the story takes place outside of Biz's purview—characters from the Fae realm and the Bureau discuss her behind the scenes, and Queen Mab must eventually lower her walls so that she can find more customers, clients, and sellers. The gameplay loop is relatively simple and addictive, where you find, buy, and sell goods as much as possible while also searching for new ways to automate the process. It is possible to lose track of your debt, but the game provides various ways to earn coin with side hustles and secondary shops. Final Profit features no combat whatsoever—all of the friction and drama comes through the management of the shop itself, though the game regularly throws curveballs that the player must mount in order to keep the store open and the coin flowing.
With cozy vibes, retro sprite work, plenty of puzzles, addictive gameplay, and a mystery at the heart of it all, Final Profit: A Shop RPG proves itself as a memorable and impressive experience from a solo developer. It's the kind of game that will especially satisfy goal-oriented players with a deep love of detail and micromanagement.
Final Profit: A Shop RPG is now available on Steam.
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