Game Title: Marenian Tavern Story – Patty and the Hungry God
Company: Rideon, KEMCO
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Availability: Digital
Battery Life: 5 – 6 hours
Cloud Save Support: Yes
Download: 913 MB

KEMCO is a company I’m very familiar with, at this point. As a lover of retro JRPGs, I’ve played lots of their published games on handhelds, and a couple over on Mobile platforms as well. They’re well-known for publishing games that play like typical SNES-style RPGs like Final Fantasy and I don’t typically see a lot of games from them that deviate from that formula.

Today is different, though. Their newest handheld game isn’t from EXE Create, but Rideon, the makers of Mercenaries Sagas. Giving us a more slice-of-life game that gives me some Atelier vibes, here is my review of Marenian Tavern Story: Patty and the Hungry God for the Nintendo Switch!

Story

tavern 2 - story

Marenian Tavern Story is about Patty and her little brother, children of a famous Tavern owner who run into a string of bad luck when they offer food to the God of Poverty and are possessed by that same God. That very God eats their happiness and makes them lose their home and become poor on top of their father disappearing from town. They then have to start from ground zero to run a new tavern and earn back their lost home.

The story starts out decently and the game does have that unique “slice of life” feel to it. When you meet characters, you’re not getting together to save the world, but collecting a group of friends to help the tavern succeed and overcome your debt and theirs.

What I don’t like is the fact that a lot of things happen really suddenly. The game does a really great job of building up what’s supposed to be the end of the game, and to maintain the RPGness of having a huge final boss, has this sudden story element appear out of nowhere for their “Oh by the way, here’s a final boss no one saw coming because this is an RPG too”. I’m down for Final Bosses in RPGs, but the game felt very conclusive before that bit suddenly happened at the end.

Gameplay

tavern 3 - gameplay

Marenian Tavern Story is a bit of a cross between a Cooking Sim and a turn-based RPG, though a much better comparison would be that it’s similar to an Atelier game. Your goal in the game is to collect and combine ingredients into dishes to sell at the tavern, while the collection of ingredients often involves exploring dungeons and fighting monsters in turn-based combat.

The way progression works in this game is that you need to Rank Up your Tavern to work your way up to having a 5-Star Restaurant, where each rank equates to half a star. Leveling Up requires you to feed the God of Poverty, sell so much money in food at the Tavern, and complete that “chapter”‘s story quests, normally involving exploring a new dungeon and taking down a boss.

The way you do this is pretty simple, overall. In essence, you just need to gather ingredients and combine them into dishes. Ingredients can be obtained from town shops as well as from harvest points and defeating enemies in the many dungeons available to you throughout the game. Once you have ingredients for recipes, you can make them at the tavern and use them.

tavern 4 - combat

The way you use them leads into uniqueness, though. You can feed them to the God of Poverty or set them out to sell at the Tavern. But, you also use dishes to give your party members experience points. Fighting monsters in dungeons only nets you materials, so if you want to level up and be stronger for the next boss, you have to feed your characters meals so they can level up.

This leads into a bit of strategy and planning. Since you can only visit one dungeon or city per day, you have to see what you gather and buy and decide what your dishes are being used for. Since there is no time limit on your satisfaction and sales goals, you could use all of your dishes immediately to fill up the God of Poverty, or use it all at first for sales and just grind for levels when you need them for a boss.

Speaking of grinding, let’s talk about how grindy and repetitive this game is. When you start out with your low ranks, things go by pretty easily. Once you get into the flow of gathering ingredients, getting money, and filling up the God, you advance pretty fast. But with each consecutive rank, the more you have to grind. Not for fullness or levels, but sales. I would often be able to easily get 100% fullness on the first day and spend literal weeks very slowly building up sales for the next rank with constantly going out into the field and collecting ingredients, along with burning all my money on special ingredients for the more expensive meals to make the process go faster.

tavern 5 - cooking

Granted, there is a way to speed this process up. MTS has a premium currency and a SHop where you can buy items that can sell for massive loads of cash (or equipment you can find later on in the game). I did this at the start and had me set on money for the majority of the game, but that still didn’t keep me from having to do a lot of grinding for sales. You simply can’t sell huge amounts of money very quickly, even if you completely take away the dishes you’d normally be using for leveling your characters.

The Shop system does have a nice affect, though. On Mobile, this was used for IAPs/Micro-transactions and, as such, can be used to fully resurrect your party members if you get a Game Over in battle. The currency is pretty easy to come by if you don’t constantly buy in the shop so by the time you get to the later and tougher bosses, you can “cheese” them by damaging them as best you can and survive the fight long-term by using those free revives to keep dishing out damage until those bosses fall. Makes you grind a bit less when the bosses get really tough and require a lot of level-grinding otherwise.

Of course, all that grind will eat up time as well, so let’s talk about how long this game will last you. I did a fair bit of the side quests that popped up as I went, and I cleared the game in around 20 hours. You can keep playing your Clear Data after you take down the Final Boss, but there’s no sort of New Game Plus here.

Controls

Controlling the game isn’t too hard, though it does use the majority of the buttons available on the Switch.

You can move around with the Left Analog Stick or the D-Pad / Arrow Buttons. All four triggers are used in battle for various commands, like Auto Battle and Fleeing. And the face buttons are all used. A is used for confirming options and B for canceling. X is used for pulling up the menu and Y is used for recovering your party outside of battle.

All in all, it’s pretty simple, though some of the battle options don’t always respond to your inputs. It takes me a few tries to get the Auto Battle toggle to turn on and off in mid-combat.

Presentation

tavern 6 - presy

Graphically, the game is fairly unique in that it’s another one of those “let’s combine 2D and 3D gameplay” RPGs. Your character sprites are 2D and made like old SNES-style games, while the environments are smoothed 3D models. This does have a unique look to it, but it really makes the 3D environments look blurry and hurt the eyes in handheld mode.

As far as performance goes, no complaints. Load times are quick and the game has never had any frame drops or crashes. It runs nice and smooth.

Battery Life

Being a 2D RPG published by KEMCO, I was expecting stellar battery life. Here are my times, from 100% to 0%

Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 4 hours, 54 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 5 hours, 22 minutes

Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 5 hours, 36 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 5 hours, 59 minutes

As expected of KEMCO, lots and lots of Battery Life.

In conclusion, Marenian Tavern Story is a nice slice-of-life RPG that deviates from what KEMCO usually throws our way. It is brought down by a lot of small issues like its sudden final boss in its story and tedious repetition of tavern sales, but if you like gathering and synthesizing RPGs like Atelier, you should give this one a try.

Final Score: 7.5/10