Correction: The announcement originally indicated that Saleblazers is in early access today. It is not: The early access launch date is September 29.
As announced in the PC Gaming Show, open world shopkeeping survival game Saleblazers offers you the opportunity to start an enterprise on a mysterious island inspired by the cozy homeliness and the colorful adventure of Ghibli movies.
Working with friends in co-op, you must build a store and stock it with goods to sell to the locals. There are many customers to charm on this sandbox island—skint students, tourists with the money to wave away any baggage limitation, and militant shoppers intent on crossing swords with the manager. While you might opt for honest work gathering, farming, and fishing for resources, stealing from others is possible, or you can take on the monsters guarding the island's most precious gems.
As for how you'll get around this island, as you can see from the trailer, you have access to the humble golf cart.
Scattered around the island are seven plots of land where you can build your shop. Each of these has a specific vibe and identity depending on where they are in the biomes of the island and offer unique quests to complete. While you can only have one plot as an active shop, you can swap to another property to grow your business and keep the original store as a farm.
While we’ve seen a lot of games that let you build a shop and stuff it with items to sell to locals, Saleblazers' multiplayer mode makes it into something fresh. It looks to be a mix of the loop of Moonlighter, the grind of Stardew Valley, and the adventuring of Valheim.
But there's a little more than that, too: there is a mystery at the heart of Saleblazers. Surrounding the island is an impenetrable fog, and all of the characters who visit your shop—even the can-I-speak-to-your-supervisor sorts—are trapped on the island, having arrived from places across space and time. Your primary reason for running the shop is to earn the money to train as a pilot to try and break through the fog and see if you can escape the island.
The challenge of creating a cohesive co-op story is something that the team has risen to while guaranteeing that the appeal of Saleblazers is as broad as possible. Though completing main quests in co-op isn’t going to share itemized rewards if some players aren’t physically there to scoop them up, the team has focused on “good narrative payoffs” from progressing through the story. And, unlike games which want you to explore in solo first, co-op is available from the start of Saleblazers.
Another charming feature of Saleblazers is that you can arm yourself with absolutely anything. Feel free to savor the moment in the trailer where the player scoots down a sheer cliff face to deck an enemy with a chair.
And there’s a lot to look forward to. Currently, the biomes of East Asian forest, wild west, and tropical are explorable for expeditions, with areas inspired by Las Vegas and Venice coming in due course. World bosses will test your mettle, and developer Airstrafe Interactive’s founder Michael Duan and chief operating officer Nancy Duan told me in a call that they’re aiming for the scale and challenge of Dark Souls in those battles.
Still, there is always a pacifist route to avoid those battles if you’d rather. The Duan’s emphasize the non-violent path is not a "lesser" way to experience the survival sim, and "self-expression" is the focus.
Saleblazers is set to enter early access on September 29.