Inkonbini Wants You To Experience A Slice Of Life As A Convenience Store Clerk (Without Most Of Its Inconvenience)

Inkonbini, the debut title for Nagai Industries, has a promising premise. The full name of the game is “inKonbini: One Store, Many Stories”. And it’s a slice-of-life first-person game where you play as an convenience store clerk at a “konbini” (convenience store) in 1990s Japan.

We were presented a 15-minute slice of hands-off gameplay via a preview event by ID@Xbox, where it’s enough to see player character Makoto Hayakawa on her first shift on the job. And this looks to be something special.

As a convenience store clerk, you’ll be doing various menial tasks- from stocking shelves with products to handling the register. There is a certain satisfying sensation of grabbing a bunch of items to place on your hand cart- things fly into the cart making satisfying bloops as they land in there.

The devs are very cognisant to not bog the game with its simulation aspects. You’re not going to inspect the expiry date of every product on the shelves everyday and replace them. But you can slightly fix the alignment of a tin can after a customer manhandle it and put them back.

This game is meant to be slow-paced and chill. And it’s not janky and weird that invites sandbox shenaniganry like most simulation games where players directly control a character. It’s not interested in having you run a profitable business or demand you to the tasks or risk employment. None of that.

What Inkonbini is more interested in, however, is telling you story vignettes.

As a store clerk, you’ll be meeting and seeing various folks coming in and out of the store. And with this being set in a pre-smartphone era in a small town, you can expect to see some regulars.

The game is interested in capturing the traditional Japanese concept of “ichi-go, ichi-e”, which literally translates to “one time, one meeting”. Every little moment can have a hidden importance.

“Once you step into Makoto’s shoes, you’ll start to recognise how some of your smallest and seemingly unimportant decisions are able to transform your customers’ lives”, said Dima Shen, project director and Nagai Industries founder.

(Fun fact: The Nagai Industries Twitter is obsessed with posting anything and everything about Shenmue.)

In practice, the little things you do from stocking the right products, placing them at a specific places, and of course, what dialogue choice you pick when conversing with these people, can impact them in some way.

And it that’s not enough to intrigue you, take a look at the teaser trailer. This game is oozing with 90’s nostalgia. It has that comfy yet melancholic sheen of a past that some folks may be longing for- whether or not they were even alive in the time period or not. It’s a vibe.

What I saw was just an encounter with an old man who knew Makoto’s aunt, and the little small talk these two had moved me a bit. It’s not like an emotional conversation, it’s just small talk. But the characters feel like real people with real, albeit simple, problems just going about their day. But that’s beauty of the mundane life and this game is all about that.

And I hope the many encounters you’ll experience in Inkonbini, spread across six episodes, can spark that magic.

Inkonbini is slated for a 2025 release, coming to PS5, PC, Mac, Xbox Series X|S and Nintendo Switch.

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