For visual novels, the gameplay is not particularly important – the visual design, a deep history and the variability of the passage come to the fore. The authors of Coffee Talk traditions respect and lure the audience with an intriguing modern fantasy world, nice pixel art and the ability to influence the plot. The last feature, by the way, is not realized through the usual dialogue branches, but through the brewing of coffee.
Coffee Talk takes place in an alternative Seattle, which is inhabited by different fantasy creatures – elves, gnomes, orcs, on a par with people. Typical picture: an elf freelancer in a hipster scarf and with a MacBook drinks coffee.
Unfortunately, an interesting idea of the world gave little to the game. The authors either could not develop it, or deliberately made it a bait for users, not even intending to use it: the fantasy shell of the novel does not affect the world or stories at all. Remove it – and nothing will change. The same people will remain with the same problems.
All fictitious sentient beings in one way or another are allusions to people. But usually their distinguishing features directly affect what is happening: in the same Vampire: the Masquerade – Bloodlines, the vampire essence of the hero determines the gameplay, in the “The Witcher Saga” different cycles of procreation in humans and elves affected the political balance of power, and in “The Little Mermaid” Ariel physically cannot be with a lover because of the tail. Coffee Talk doesn’t.
Vampires drink artificial blood and therefore pose no threat to humans. A werewolf can be replaced by a veteran with PTSD and nervous breakdowns that are treated with sedatives. Nature has no effect on all other characters. Perhaps the message is that the origin does not determine the personality, but it is more likely that the scriptwriters simply did not pay enough attention to this part.
In this, by the way, there is nothing catastrophic – many stories feel fine even without fantasy. However, Coffee Talk so badly wanted to combine fictional and real worlds that it was slightly overdone. If the supernatural side was sufficiently developed, then the mixture could be interesting. Unfortunately, in the end we have a combination of mundane and mundane, covered with elven ears and green orc skin.
The only bright spot among the regulars of the coffee shop is Neil, an alien astronaut looking for a girl in Tinder. Yes, in it you can recognize many other aliens, robots and Sheldons who tried to understand the human soul. But the contrast with the rest of the characters works well. They are called bright language does not turn. Someone can see the beginnings of comedy, someone should have become a charming scoundrel, but things didn’t go beyond the rough outline of the image.
Contrast also works in the plot. The first 80% of the game spreads slowly and even asleep. But in the finale, when all conflicts are resolved, even a small action appears. Coffee Talk does not become an action-packed thriller, but the ending is well imprinted in memory. The only pity is that the game is swinging well, very slowly.
Now about brewing coffee, through which you can influence the plot. Having prepared this or that drink, the barista affects the mood of visitors. At first it seems that only a couple of lines of dialogue change, but in fact it depends on whether the ending will be good or bad.
On the one hand, the mechanics look unusual, which is always nice, but it has some controversial points. Firstly, it leaves only two obvious finale options for each storyline. There is no sense in overcoming and “knocking out” other endings. Secondly, as such, there is essentially no choice either. The user does not make specific decisions, they are determined by his game. You know how to follow the instructions and serve the necessary drinks – there will be a happy end. An alternative ending can be obtained only by specially confusing orders. It is unlikely to succeed in doing this, the gameplay is quite simple.
Each drink consists of three elements: the base (five variables), the main additive and the secondary (seven variables each). At first, visitors ask for what is in the recipe book, or directly list the ingredients needed. In the future, they will name only part of the composition. Once, you’ll even have to google what Tech-Tarik is, and another time, to cook from memory. During one day-episode, several trial attempts for experiments and errors are given. Therefore, there is no particular difficulty with the selection of recipes.
In this case, the gameplay itself is not so much. You will have to mix drinks a couple of times in one game day. For those for whom this will not be enough, the developers have created two separate modes: free and competitive. In the first one, you can experiment and discover new recipes without restrictions, and in the second you need to cook for speed. Particularly creative users will like the mechanics of latte art, with which you can decorate drinks with drawings.
With all the problems of the novel, one can’t take one away from her – she’s comfortable. This word perfectly describes the whole game. Nice warm pixelated art is inspired by the 1990s anime, according to developers. There are few animations, and those that are are slow and lazy in a good way. Light, unobtrusive music sounds against the background of incessant rain.
Coffee Talk is needed for appeasement. After a couple of merged ranks or a boss that is too complicated, sometimes you just want to sit and chat about anything. Even the everydayness of the plot in this regard plays into the hands. In difficult times and hours of loneliness, we usually remember with warmth not loud parties and extreme adventures, but quiet gatherings among friends.
The same can be said about the ordinary characters of the novel. I really want to associate with the brave heroes of other works, but it does not always work out. And to recognize yourself in the visitors of the coffee shop is easy. Who did not have conflicts with parents who did not understand that at 18 you are already an adult and you know better what to do with your life?