The Shopkeeper touts itself as a “point-and-click narrative game”, and I can confirm that the playing of this game does involve pointing and clicking. However, do not make the mistake of thinking this belongs in the same category as the Broken Sword series or any of the old LucasArts classics; not only is there barely a narrative, but to call this a game would be too generous.
The “game” drops you into an antique store with no explanation as to what to do. You can click on items in the store to get an excruciatingly poorly voiced explanation of the piece’s history. Soon, you are joined by some other poorly voiced sap (who moves like a string puppet full of spiders), who is looking for a gift for his wealthy mother-in-law from whom he is hoping to borrow money. Upon choosing an antique, you are then transported to the mother-in-laws office where the request plays out.
There are dialogue options you can choose to steer the plot, but these ultimately mean nothing, simply leading to a different rejection to your request. The only “ending” I came across was purely by process of elimination, and I found myself making a note of the antique and the dialogue choices I had already picked so I wouldn’t pick them again the next time round. Oh that’s right, I forgot to mention the fact the game is on constant loop, so that if you get one of the bad endings (or even the correct ending for that matter, which you’ll only know because the credits roll) you’ll end up straight back in the antique shop to try again, and that’s if you’re lucky enough to avoid the conversation with the florist. You really don’t want that.
The voice acting is horrendous for all four of the voiced characters, ruining the otherwise competent writing. The visuals make me feel like I’m on a desert paradise full of cannibals; sure it looks pretty, but then things start moving. The character animation is sickly, and the footstep sound effect is second only to the voice of the mother-in-law character in it’s ability to make me want to claw my ears out.
In short, The Shopkeeper is an insult to the eyes and ears through it’s dreadful sound effects, nauseating animation and infuriating voice-acting, and even if you can move past that, the endless process-of-elimination gameplay is a total waste of time that leads to no discernible reward. The fact that money is expected in exchange for this product is a shame.