Shop Titans is a brand new RPG that flips the concept on its head. Rather than task you with saving the world, you’ll provide the gear that other heroes use. You’ll do that courtesy of your own fantasy store, which you can stock with a wide variety of equipment, like massive swords, helmets, and wizard’s robes.

On paper, this sounds like the setup for an incredibly fun and creative experience but, in practice, the freemium aspects of Shop Titans slows it down to an absolute crawl to anyone who doesn’t lay down some serious cash. As a result, you’ll probably just walk away feeling unsatisfied.

Things start well. You’ll create and customise your own shopkeeper, including its gender, hair and skin colour, and clothes then you’ll get a brief introduction to your store. This tutorial walks you through the game’s basics, like placing shelves, decorating, ordering items to stock, and, eventually, selling them for profit.

Pretty quickly you’ll be selling items as quickly as you – well, the local crafters – can craft them. This is where the second challenge of shopkeeping comes in: researching new items. You achieve this by creating a set number of a particular item to learn a new item – or, at the very least, an improved version of that item.

Shop Titans is an RPG in Which You Play the Shopkeeper

Nearby crafters take care of all of that for you – providing you front the cash. You can also invest in their own personal stores for various perks and bonuses. This is well worth doing, as it drastically speeds up crafting times, which helps you sell more.

When not focusing on maximising your profit, you can hire your own heroes to explore the nearby wilderness and complete quests. Again, this is well worth doing as it provides you with immeasurable benefits – in this case rare items that you can use to craft extremely expensive gear.

Your hero doesn’t require regular pay but you will have to stock them with gear from your store free of charge. You’ll have plenty of surplus though so this never proves a problem, and most quests are easy that they’ll walk them without a fuss.

Visually, Shop Titans is a real treat. It would have been easy to skimp out and release a pixelated SNES look alike on mobile but Kabam has gone the whole hog and released a gorgeous, 3D cel-shaded experience that looks gorgeous.

It’s a Great Idea but the Freemium Mechanics Ruin the Experience for Free Players

Sadly, it just can’t save Shop Titans though, and that’s a real shame. We fell in love with the idea right away and really wanted to like it, but it’s all just so painfully slow and dull that it ends up just feeling like real work.

Initially, your profits increase at such a glacial pace that buying any upgrades or investing in staff require extremely careful thought. The same goes for any sort of expansion, as pretty much everything either costs an extortionate amount of gold or gems, the premium currency.

It’s just so painfully obvious that Kabam wants you to spend money right from the get go that it’s almost not even worth bothering with if you’re a free player. This isn’t the first or last time we’ll make this claim, but Shop Titans would have been so much better off as a premium experience that included actual strategy instead of time gates.

If you have a bunch of excess cash to drop, Shop Titans is a great idea and you might well get a kick out of it. Free players need not even bother show up though, as there’s very little here for you.