VA-11 Hall-A

One of the great joys of our time as a video game fan is the amount of tiny teams fighting to get things completely different from the usual, with inspirations from all kinds of places and references. VA-11 Hall-A is a clear example of this. A visual novel in English,

I Am Setsuna

launched internationally in digital stores, based on the life of a waitress in a Cyberpunk-style city, with graphics inspired by Japanese adventures in PC-98.

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What was it that we could find something like that in our catalog offer? We have more variety, and we are richer for it.

Before starting, you have to remember that it is a visual novel, and for the time being in English, so it is best to abstain if the premise of reading a lot in the language of Shakespeare is not your ideal. It is the hard work of a group of two people, with some


external help in elements such as the great soundtrack, testing and other details necessary to go from a small protoype in to a commercial


game released in Steam for its good 15 euros . The title already attracted attention at the time when it was only that little free prototype (or a tip), but


it is clear that from that initial state to the adventure of 10 hours (minimum) we have now, there has been a hard work of create content and refine characters, dialogues and systems.

VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action (PC) screenshot

The adventure puts us in the shoes of Jill, a waitress in a bar hidden inside the futuristic city of Glitch City. The bar, called VA-11 Hall-A but affectionately “Valhalla”, is nothing special, a small place, nothing noteworthy and removed from the madding crowd, as


well as the problems in a city full of them. Controlled by the corporations, and turned into a kind of laboratory in which to test elements such as the


coexistence between humans and androids (Lilim), this mega-city is a dehumanized and dangerous place, in which places like this are an oasis in the that our protagonist acts as a conduit between our clients and their desired alcoholic combination.

From that premise will go through a series of quirky characters, but powerfully human and always capable of releasing some emotion. Like Jamie, a hitman with a heart of gold who will disarm us with his mentality about life and his work, or Alma, an


explosive hacker that is the closest Jill has to a friend among her clients and that will always raise us a smile with his scathing comments. Or Dorothy, a Lilim also very habitual in the bar, whose aspect and innocent attitude hides a profession that has little of it.


Each character leaves its mark in some way, and that is part of the magic of VA-11 Hall-A, that the script detaches humanity, wisely mixed with touches of humor, winks for an audience that is supposed to be well versed in video games and something of anime,

VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action (PC) screenshot

The setting also plays its part in submerging us in this small universe. In front of games that seek to simulate cities, regions, countries and galaxies, here we only have Jill’s flat, a shop where we can buy certain things and our bar in Valhalla as scenarios,


with some exceptions. It is a routine microcosm sustained by the interest in the conversations and the background melodies that we put in our music selector, a selection by the way really remarkable, with sounds of clear retro inspiration and cyberpunk, although


there are pieces of all kinds, from more melodic and calm to more forceful and powerful. A good number of these pieces are hidden in the different routes of the title, so getting them all is a good motivation to explore the multiple narrative paths that we can open,

“We are going to mix drinks and change lives” that is the phrase with which the protagonist is encouraged every night that she arrives at her place of work, and it is the precedent of the most curious mechanics of this visual novel. Given the role of waitress,


much of the game will be spent serving cocktails to our customers, according to what they ask. You can ask us for something concrete, in which case we just have to look for the combination, but sometimes the demand is something more nebulous and we


have room for maneuver. Fortunately, our manual comes with different classifications to help us interpret the wishes of the parishioners. Things like “sweet”, “spicy”, “scorching”, “manly”, “classic” and many others will give us clues about what can be good for our interlocutor.