Coffee Talk (2020)

Screenshot 2020-08-31 at 12.03.53

I will say 1 thing about this game…It came out in January this year and is set in this Autumn coming…and even though it’s technically set in an alternate reality, I doubt the creators knew that 2020 would turn out the way it did.  Making it even more of a fantasy that they possibly anticipated.  With that out of the way, let us talk about Coffee Talk.

Set in an alternative version of Seattle, Washington USA, in the Autumn of 2020 (Beginning on September 22nd.  Tomorrow, as of posting this), our story revolves around the owner and Barista of a small cafe and his or her regular customers (We don’t know what the Barita looks like.  We can only make assumptions).  In this reality, mythical literary creatures are not only real but have integrated into human society and are all treated the same (more or less.  But there are still prejudices, via old family feuds and so on..It’s a little like ‘Once Upon A Time’ or ‘Grimm’ I guess).  Our main character (you) are more or less the biggest enigma of the story, leaving the player room to get to know his customers and hearing their various stories.

Now to have a Characteristic Talk:

The Graphics and Art Style are nothing new, but they’re well done here.  On one side you have the minimalist pixel art style that makes the game look like it belongs on an older computer or games console, and on the other side you have the anime art style that borrows heavily from anime that came out in the 1980s and ’90s.  You can see how anime such as Neon Genesis Evangelion and Cowboy Bebop influence both the fashion sense and the colour scheme.

The Level Design and Gameplay are very simple – they are split up into days, and it progresses in 2 ways; pressing a button to advance the character dialogue, and of course the main aspect of the game, which is creating the drinks.  As different customers come in, you start to receive new orders.  Part of the fun is the guessing and experimentation of these drinks, as it’s possible to get them wrong and you’re not always given clues as to what goes into them or in what order.  It’s a very simple game to play, but it doesn’t stand out as anything special – the game’s best qualities can be found elsewhere.

The Story is very much character driven than plot driven; There is the main, consistent story, which revolves around Freya, the pixie green-haired journalist who is trying to write her first novel.  She appears more or less every day while the other characters nip in and out, and her story progresses, even when other stories are happening.  Other characters and their problems include Baileys and Lua (an Elf and a Succubus in a Romeo and Juliet style relationship), Myrtle and Aqua (an Orc and a Mermaid who meet in the Cafe and become friends over their love for their jobs, which is in video game development), a Vampire model and a War-veteran Werewolf who used to be his bodyguard (Hyde and Gala), A Pop Singer Cat-girl (a cat who can transform into a human) and the fights she has with her over-protective Dad (Rachel and Hendry), A father-of-three-daughters Cop who is everybody’s Uncle (Jorji), and an Alien who is trying to learn about dating and human reproduction (Neil).  Due to minimalist actions, the game is also very dialogue heavy (and is skippable if you’re just looking to collect trophies for getting the drinks right), and it’s clear that despite being set in a fantasy version of Seattle…each story is very human and you grow to know these characters quite well.  The developers said that despite having fantasy races present, the stories were made as realistic as possible.  It’s a nice touch.

The Music is in the style of Lo-Fi; samples of lounge piano or guitar, bass or other instruments mixed with hip-hop beats.  I personally love it, and it’s a style that has a cult following on youtube for being tremendous background or ‘homework’ music.  It creates the game’s scene perfectly, and I will even listen to it from time to time when I’m having my own coffee and staring out the window.

Would I recommend Coffee Talk?  Yes.  It’s not a challenging game (outside of, perhaps, the mixing of the drinks) but it’s a very relaxing experience that sucks you into its world, even if you don’t technically leave the cafe, never mind not look anywhere but the bar table.  It’s a good, strong, interactive visual novel that’s easy to pick up (control-wise) but a challenge to get 100% in.  I found myself absorbed in the conversations, and even though the game seemed to lack a major goal, I keep in mind that there is a mode you can play were the game can go on for as long as you want.  Even people who don’t play video games might have a pleasant time with this 1.  Definitely check it out.

Graphics: ***

Art Style: ****1/2

Level Design: ***1/2

Gameplay: ***1/2

Story: ****

Characters: ****1/2

Music: ****3/4

Overall: ****

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