Game Reviews

Tiny Shop review - "Take charge of your own fantastical store"

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| Tiny Shop
Tiny Shop review - "Take charge of your own fantastical store"
| Tiny Shop

In fantasy worlds, picking up a sword and slaying monsters and the occasional god sounds leagues more interesting than running that shop the heroes stopped by one time. However, Tiny Shop has done a good job showing that you can have just as much fun in this entrepreneurial role.

Build your store from the ground up

As you begin your journey, you will quickly notice your shop is more of a shed - quite small and not a lot to it. That’s because it is your job to make money, and immediately throw that cash back at your store. You can decorate it with items that provide you with passive boosts, expand your land for more space, and add more stands to showcase more items.

By upgrading the stands you can specialise them in one of the three groups of items you can sell. So, if you chose to, you could make themed stores like a Blacksmith or an Apothecary. It’s definitely fun to be able to design your store to be exactly the kind you want to run.

Pick up the hammer and start crafting

Perhaps the biggest part of running your business is crafting - you need stock to sell after all. As you would expect, you will require materials to do this and there are few ways to go about getting these. You can grow crops in your garden for resources to mainly create potions, and you can send adventurers out on quests who will bring some back for you, but the main way to acquire them is by exchanging cold hard cash.

You will need to plan what you want to craft against the price of materials to manage your potential income, and it is always a fun little mathematical challenge to try and maximize profit against expenses. By the end of it, you will come out feeling like a real business owner. Of course, if you want more money, you need to craft better stock, and that's where your city's other residents come into play.

No one shop is an island

As you go through the game, more and more facilities will join your city, and these are integral to growing your own shop. Most of these places will allow you to research new recipes for your store, and, by investing gold and items, you will level them up to unlock more potential items. You will also get upgrades such as faster crafting and more crafting slots so you can bring in more money.

Unfortunately, the city system does have one criticism for me; the daily tasks. Each of these facilities will have three jobs you can complete daily for resources, gems, gold and so on, which give you a nice boost. The problem is, though, the goals are quite lofty. You will frequently see jobs like 'craft 50 armour items' or 'sell 100 potions', which if you don’t have much time to game you will never complete them. They are by no means game-breaking rewards, but definitely not accessible for people who have multiple jobs or kids.

The best help a shop could ask for

Much like actual retail, your shop’s success is carried by your workers, or in the case of Tiny Shop, your sentient Jellyfish friend. If you leave them to it, Jelly will single-handedly take charge of every piece of running your store, sans the crafting part. They will man the counter for sales and make countless runs to the storage room to replenish your stand stock when it runs out and will continue to do so when you put your phone down so you still make a profit. They will act as your mouthpiece for the story events since you are an unseen entrepreneurial overlord, and you can even change their looks with different bodies, hats, and glasses. In short, take care of Jelly.

A masterclass in monetization

Something that Tiny Shop gets so right for me is its approach to monetization. A large majority of the tasks in this game can be sped up by paying gems, the game's premium currency. Now, you can spend money to buy these, or you can get 10 gems free every six hours which is generous. However, that's not a lot in the grand scheme of things right?

That is why you can also just watch ads instead. They last forty seconds, but that's better than waiting an hour for your adventurer to come back with that all-important item, and it’s not like you're losing sales because Jelly is still running around like the commerce god they are. It would have been easy for developers Tiny Cloud to of gone “either pay money or wait” to try to make money off of impatient, but instead, you can watch an ad, and save up those free gems to buy Jelly a new hat.

Tiny Shop review - "Take charge of your own fantastical store"

Tiny Shop is a game that has plenty of depth to it but does not require a huge amount of time to make the most of it. You can pop in once every few hours to fill up your crafting queue, send your adventurer out and tend your garden, then walk away and like the profit flow in. It is an incredibly fun game that you can just pick up and play whenever you have a minute, and totally worth checking out.
Shaun Walton
Shaun Walton
Shaun is the lead contributor on AppSpy and 148Apps, but sometimes pops up on Pocket Gamer just to mix things up a little bit.