Adventure Corner: Coffee Talk
Welcome to Adventure Corner, a column where members of the RPGamer staff can give their thoughts, impressions, and pseudo-reviews for various adventure titles that don’t come under our usual coverage. Adventure Corner is aimed at delivering opinions on a wide range of titles including visual novels, point-and-click adventures, investigative mysteries, and so forth.
In this edition of the column we take a look at Coffee Talk, available now on multiple platforms.
Visual novels melded with beverage service may seem like an odd mix, but the spectacular VA-11 Hall-A proved that visual novels can have participatory content while still letting the player feel like choices matter beyond selecting a romantic path. With the bartending sequel N1RV Ann-A on the horizon but lacking a release date, Coffee Talk fills in the void for those looking for a similar experience.
Set in a world where the supernatural is simply part of the Seattle landscape, the player takes on the role of a coffee shop owner whose establishment is only open after the sun sets, which attracts a unique set of clientele. Prepare to serve drinks both warm and cold to humans, succubi, vampires, werewolves, orcs, elves, mermaids, and even a very illegal alien. Generally each small storyline inside the bigger narrative revolves around very recognizable problems, such as Baileys the elf’s family not approving of his longtime succubus girlfriend Lua, or a certain father and daughter unable to bridge the gap grief has created. Each will receive advice from different denizens of the coffee shop, such as best friends Hyde the vampire and Gala the werewolf.
All of the stories in the shop fascinate the sole human regular, Freya, who’s decided to turn all the crazy and banal events surrounding the coffee shop patrons into a novel. Whether she’ll make her deadline, or how any of the other customers will end up, revolves around the barista serving each the proper drinks. For some, the player will need to experiment, based on the descriptions the customers throws out and the silhouettes of each cup found in the player’s recipe book. For those who can’t quite work out the necessary brew on the first attempt or two, each day can be repeated as often as needed by choosing the in-game calendar and giving the specific date another try.
One of the most interesting aspects of Coffee Talk is when the game ends, leaving the player with a mystery worth pursuing, if the clues provided can be worked out. Prior to the more interesting ending, Coffee Talk was a brief fling with a mildly interesting plot which didn’t dive into any specific issue too deeply, but the optional second ending puts the whole game in a new light, as does correctly completing each set of storylines by serving each required beverage.
Brewing coffee and other beverages is easy, with a variety of twists to keep players on their toes. Baristas will have five base ingredients, which determine the type of drink: coffee, tea, green tea, chocolate, and milk. From there, players can add up to two additional ingredients, including more of the base product or one of five additives like lemon, mint, ginger, cinnamon, or honey. It’s not complicated, but it’s fun experimenting and discovering new combinations.
Several customers request named creations based on real life drinks from around the world, and the order of ingredients added to recreate these recipes is very important. For example, creating a Galad Had requires tea, milk, and ginger in that specific order — combining tea, ginger, and milk just makes ginger milk tea. Drinks have four defining factors: warm, cool, bitter, or sweet. However, these only mattered once during the game’s main plot, but for those who want to tackle the game’s drink-making gauntlet, knowing which ingredient results in which flavours and in what order to add them is critical.
I wasn’t sure how much I’d enjoy Coffee Talk, but I’m glad I took the dive. While I wish some of the subject matters like prejudice, family, and culture could have been tackled with a little more depth, there’s still plenty to enjoy at this little coffee shop, so stop by for a warm beverage on your preferred console.