The premise for Merchant to the Stars is absolutely baffling. Fantasy games are centered on knights and adventurers, dungeon crawlers searching for treasures, or even thieves absconding with valuable loot. Why would any gamer jump at the chance to embody the role of a glorified, yet enterprising, weapons forger? This is the main question I had going into the journey, and to my surprise my prejudice was, as the minutes flew by, erased.
Everything you need to know is found on the main screen. Your business starts off with one warrior who attempts to sell you the various weapons he has owned or has found in his travels. Once you buy an item, you can forge the item and improve its value and even sell it back to your customer at a higher price. If the fighter's current weapon or armor is more valuable than what you're selling, the swap can't occur and you're left holding the bag. Not to worry, however, since you can redeem this item and get gold coins back in the process. Under my two transactions, selling a braced wooden spear and a pressed steel kite worked to my advantage, since the warriors' own items had a lesser monetary and power value. Once they buy the goods, a swap occurs, and I must take the current weapons off their hands.
During the first few business dealings, I wondered if there was any real creative merit to playing Merchant to the Stars. Improving weapons and armor is such a minuscule task that any RPG enthusiast loves to do, but sharpening one's steel blade pales in comparison to killing dragons or saving kingdoms.
The goal of the game is to actually enable gamers to see fantasy themed experiences from a different vantage point. Although you won't be going off to raid castles or save a fair princess, there is an unexpected thrill in growing your business. Whenever an adventurer enters your store, he will attempt to regale you with stories of his courage and fighting prowess. Their accounts are actually well written, and even though I'll never read any of the books that lie about in Skyrim, the prose behind Merchant to the Stars adds a bit of color to the proceedings.
The main strategy is to attract more people to your store, which not only gives you more weapons to play with, but also increases the overall value of your business. It's also important to know when to turn the items you own into scrap, since these are the materials which eventually upgrade the better weapons. Knowing the various tastes of the clients is also imperative, and blindly creating weapons and selling to the highest bidder may increase your pockets in the short run, but you'll probably create better karma by pleasing your customer.
Selling wares to heroes didn't seem appetizing until Merchant to the Stars found its way to my iPad. Bashing someone's head in for glory, honor, and a few trinkets may, upon further review, seem a bit foolhardy. Besides, bloodshed is really bad for business, unless you're a merchant.