If you ask me, there aren’t enough games that revolve almost exclusively around buying low and selling high, and it’s super-rare that you see one that’s as story driven as Ten Thousand Coins. I was intrigued right from the start – there’s a lot going on with this tale of a young Foxeen woman, learning the merchant trade while hiding her true identity from a world that’s actively hunting her kind.
You spend the tutorial chapter traveling back and forth between two settlements, picking up axes in the first, and bartering them to the lumberjacks in the second. It’s a simple enough concept when only two settlements are available, and they both happen to have what the other one needs. You learn right away that unless you are in desperate need of coin, it’s always more profitable to barter than to buy and sell, due to the tax system on coin transactions.
If that’s all Ten Thousand Coins had to offer, even with a robust world design and story, it’d probably wear thin pretty quickly. However, travel time comes with its own challenges and choices to be made. There is a hunger mechanic, so foraging for food while traveling quickly becomes a necessity if you’re going to run a profitable business – eating the stock has an opportunity cost. Also, the woods aren’t safe – you will encounter hazards, creatures and bandits in the woods, more so at night.
Combat is turn based, but plays out like a mini-game. Attacking requires you to click at the right time, and blocking incoming attacks is done via mousing over the area where they’re intended to land. Neither is particularly difficult, but it’s miles away from traditional stat-based RNG combat (as well as the real-time action combat) you may be expecting.
So far, the game plays far more like a strategy game than an RPG, and if I weren’t so interested in economic-based game play, I’d likely be disappointed. Sure, there’s a quest log, and you can do things like upgrade your wagon and hire on crew, but it lacks that core feeling of becoming more powerful through progression. Sure, you get stronger, but in the sense of moving quicker or being able to hold more goods at any given time.
I expect it’s the kind of thing that’s going to start out comfortably easy, but really test your trading mettle as the game progresses, and that’s the kind of difficulty ramp up I am here for.
For a game not slated to release until the end of the year, it feels pretty polished up already. Movement in towns is a bit persnickety, but that was the only time I didn’t feel like I was playing a finished product.
I really enjoyed the hour I spent with Ten Thousand Coins, and after playing, I went to the website and signed up for beta testing. It’s another one for the wish list – refreshingly different and a delight to play.