Mereks Market seemed like something I would enjoy, especially with online coop play. Unfortunately, the game falls short in a few ways. However, maybe you the reader will find the enjoyment that I missed. The game puts you in the shoes of Merek, who has just opened a small outdoor shop in this medieval fantasy world, to craft items and serve customers to try to create a thriving business.
Gameplay is similar to other coop games of this nature, like the Overcooked series. You have a lot of things to juggle at the same time during the timed levels. Generally, you will be taking customer orders, which either need to be crafted or selected from a list of available items, then checking out the customer. If you need to craft the item, you must first know the recipe, from memory or by finding it in your recipe book, then collect the required materials spread around your shop, followed by place all of the ingredients on the correct workstation, and finally waiting the required time for the item to complete and giving it to the correct customer. Some ingredients need to change form to be usable, like turning sand into glass or iron ore into smelted ingots. If the customer needs a noncraftable item, then you must deduce what they are asking for and offer the correct item. After a customer has their item, then they will walk to the checkout table. If you crafted the item, then you will need to input a certain button order to complete the order and receive a tip. If you didn’t craft it, then you can haggle for the price the customer pays. It may all seem complicated, but the game explains everything, eases you in, and allow you to get the hang of it after a level or two.
I mentioned that these levels are timed, which means that mistakes are costly. I found it easier while playing solo to never haggle and just offer the middle price each time, just to save those precious seconds. I think the game became fairly difficult rather quickly without coop partners unfortunately. This is especially apparent after level ten, where you have all day to construct pieces of a statue and place them together correctly with a Simon says mini game, while also serving regular customers. After that level, your shop gets an upgrade to a larger, more complicated set up. I really with online coop was available so I wouldn’t struggle so much.
The controls are fairly simple, with movement on a thumbstick, a button to interact with objects and things, a button to start production of an item, and a button to sprint. Although simple, the hectic nature of the game lends itself to forgetting to sprint, interacting with the wrong item, or placing an item in the wrong place.
There isn’t much of a story outside of trying to expand your store unfortunately. There are several named characters, but I didn’t really feel a connection to any of them. The conversations with them are voiced and have subtitles, but that is all the accessibility the game features. The world isn’t really explained much either, but you can gain insight through the characters you meet and the items you sell.
Overall, I got very little enjoyment from my couple hours playing. It may be a wonderful coop game, but I couldn’t experience it that way. I would only recommend it to fans of Overcooked and similar games that have couch coop buddies to play with.
I received an Xbox code for Merek’s Market from a PR agency with the expectation for coverage of some kind. I played the game for about two hours, completing eleven levels, on a Series X. I am mostly blind, so some things I have trouble with may not affect your experience with the game. Merek’s Market is available now on several platforms.