Role-playing games often put you in the role of a hero, battling evil to save the world. Final Profit: A Shop RPG twists that formula and puts you in the role of Madama Biz, an anti-hero. She is an elf trying to save her homeland from the evil Bureau of Business. Unfortunately, all other methods haven’t worked, and Madama Biz decides to fight fire with fire and start a business.
The game comes from solo Melbourne developer, Brent Arnold. While it has the appearance of a traditional RPG, everything else is unconventional and it works to the game’s advantage. The occasional fourth-wall references are a big part of the humour, as well as the odd situations Madama Biz finds herself in. Her allies are strange, her enemies are cooperative, and her allegiances are flying all over the place.
The fundamentals of every business are finding customers and having a product to sell. For a simulation game, this isn’t too difficult. But Final Profit: A Shop RPG perfectly demonstrates how odd it would be for an RPG to manage such a feat. You must go around and find customers and products yourself, often going through several challenges to establish one or the other. The biggest threats aren’t the enemies who deal lots of damage, but sales tax and loan payments.
By changing the rules of a traditional RPG, you have an experience that forces you to think outside the box to succeed. You can level up and boost your stats, but how do you use your magic to earn money? How do you procure your next product or unlock the next customer? How do you increase profits when everything is fully upgraded? The questions are difficult, but finding the solution on your own gives you a true sense of accomplishment.
Similar to modern RPGs, there are alignments where Madama Biz can choose how she carries out business. Is the bottom line the only thing that matters, or does ethical business mean something to you? Choosing what kind of business person you are isn’t some insignificant choice, as it determines the ending of the game.
Most of your time is spent trying to earn money, but there are still regular RPG activities available. There are secret areas to open up, puzzles to solve, and collectibles to find. There isn’t a strict time limit and your exploration is only limited by the story. But as you get more resources, you can work on tasks that you couldn’t do before. Not everything has a conventional solution, and there isn’t much guidance. It’s similar to the old-school RPGs where you could stick to the main path, or veer off to discover some secrets.
The 2D animation may take some getting used to, as some objects look deceptively interactable. Fortunately, it lends itself to the charm and makes you feel like you are playing a retro RPG.
Final Profit: A Shop RPG is available on Steam now.