If the phrase 'open world survival shopkeeping game' intrigues you, let Saleblazers take over your weekend

This isn't quite the way I imagined an early access game about being a shopkeeper would begin, but long before I rang up my first customer threw rocks at cardboard cutouts of cowboys, dodged lasers fired by hippo statues, and survived a shootout with a crowd of evil thugs sent after me by a ruthless corporate overlord.

Yes, Saleblazers is a shopkeeping game. I promise! It's just that it's also an open world survival game with a story, so there's a bit of shooting, ziplining, and anime-level betrayal before you get to open your own store.

Arriving on a mysterious island filled with rivers, trees, rolling hills, and citizens absolutely clamoring to do a bit of shopping, I named my character Shop Pop. I then discovered the fella who gives you the shop tutorial is named Pop Pop. So my game began with Pop Pop showing Shop Pop how to set up a Shop Plot. That feels like the basis of a children's book.

I gathered bamboo by breaking open crates (crudely, by blasting them with the revolver I picked up in the game's intro) then crafted a bamboo axe to cut down trees. Soon I had a workbench, a research board with an extensive unlock tree, and even a few store policies I can enact to help me increase my profits. And then it was time to open the doors (not literally, since my shop doesn't have walls yet) and start selling stuff.

I'm a little embarrassed to say my first day on the job didn't go all that smoothly. My first sale wasn't the bamboo cups I'd crafted, but the display rack I put the cups in. Instead of placing the rack I just dropped it on the floor, which meant my first customer thought it was an item for sale since it was in my shop but not actually part of my shop. But hey, a sale is a sale, so I pocketed the cash and crafted another.

(Image credit: Airstrafe Interactive)

When night fell some weird goblins invaded my store—the world of Saleblazers gets quite dangerous after dark—and after frantically dispatching them with my pistol I noticed a guy with a facemask and the name 'mercenary' hanging around. So, I shot him too. Turns out he wasn't a bad guy and the cops showed up to fine me $40 for shooting a citizen. In the process, the merc took a swing at me but hit the cop, which let me freely finish off the merc without getting into more trouble. His mask is now mine and I only feel slightly guilty about it!

My second day went a bit better and I properly sold more cups along with a few odds-and-ends I came across on my travels, like a microwave oven and a plush toy. Plus I've advanced enough to start actually building walls and floors so soon my shop will feel like a proper place instead of just a wooden platform in the woods.

(Image credit: Airstrafe Interactive)

I've only just gotten started with Saleblazers but it's already a lot of lo-fi fun. You can do a lot to gather items to sell in your shop, including crafting, farming, fishing, fighting, and thievery, and you can eventually hire NPCs to help out in your store, too. You can also play in co-op with friends, and even set your server to allow PvP invasions if you want to battle other players. 

Maybe best of all, anything you pick up in SaleBlazers can be used as a weapon, which is why I accidentally smacked someone with a store table and why I chucked my new apron at the man who was nice enough to give me a new apron. Nothing personal, dude. It's just business.

(Image credit: Airstrafe Interactive)
Christopher Livingston
Staff Writer

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.