Title: Coffee Talk
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Toge Productions
Publisher: Toge Productions
Genre: Visual Novel, Adventure
Official Site: Coffee Talk
Release Date: January 29, 2020
On the streets of Seattle, in the middle of the night, people need a place to have a warm drink and chat. Coffee Talk is a visual novel developed by Toge Productions. It follows a barista and their returning customers that share stories and coffee in twilight hours.
The gameplay of Coffee Talk falls into two categories; making drinks for customers and listening to their stories. While this could have been a fun twist on the visual novel genre, its outcome falls flat.
Taking place in Seattle in the year 2020, with a unique twist. Not only does this world inhabited by humans, but also fantasy creatures like vampires, werewolves, orcs, and even aliens.
The art style for the game is done in a classic pixel art style, akin to a 90s pixel art look. With the browns of the coffee shop and the dark rain falling outside, the entire design aesthetic fits together well.
Coffee Talk Combines Drink Brewing and Conversations with Others
Each evening at Coffee Talk generally starts the same, with opening up your shop and making drinks for your customers. You can make them tea, coffee, or hot chocolate, with a handful of different additions to vary up the types of drinks.
While there could have been a lot of variety in how you make drinks, for the most part, it just involves making drinks with the ingredients the customers ask for. Working as a barista is a challenge, but the game makes it seem like it requires no skill at all.
Even at times, when you mess up the drink, the characters will move on like it is not an issue. Not to say there should be multiple fail points for accidentally putting too much ginger in someone’s tea, but it does not give the player a reason to get better when there is no consequence for not making the right drink.
There is a hint that how well you prepare the drinks will impact the story, but overall it did not seem like there was too much drastically different.
The Brewing Gameplay Lacks Complexity
At some points, a customer will ask for a drink without the ingredients, and it is a puzzle to figure out what ingredients will make that drink. However, these are few and far between in terms of complexity.
It would be fine to this more simplistic gameplay if the story and characters were more engaging, but they can be very hit or miss.
The game follows multiple characters as they go about their lives and their problems, from a young couple trying to solve their relationship issues, a young game developer, and a pop star branching out on a new solo career.
There is a main through-line for the story, which follows Freya, a journalist who is trying to write her first novel. Throughout her nights at the coffee shop, she struggles to figure out what she should write until she decides to base her book on the different people that enter the coffee shop.
Character Stories Vary in Quality and Interest
Freya’s story is fun at first, but compared to the problems of other characters, it becomes dull over time. There are some interesting moments like teaching a collective alien creature the qualms of online dating, or the pressures involved in video game crunch culture. More moments like these would help make the stories of the coffee shop more relatable.
Even though the game factors in how well you are making the drinks, it would be nice to have some input with characters through conversation. There are also points where a character will come as for your opinion on a matter, and to not have any options keeps you from connecting with the character.
One highlight worth mentioning is the music of the game. It is the perfect blend of calming electronic jazz music that fits well in the game, and also nice to play outside of it.
The game only takes a couple of hours to complete, but to be honest, it is one that probably should be played one day at a time instead of all at once. Going through the days all at once harms the overall impact the game is trying to make.
Coffee Talk Also Contains Two Endless Modes
Once the game is complete, it includes two endless modes. One of the modes allows the player to make whatever beverage concoctions they would like, while the other mode has the player making specific drinks in a short amount of time. These modes would be fun if the drink-making were more varied, but the simplicity makes it not worth it.
At $12.99, the reduced price means it is not a huge gamble to check out if it interested you. If you are on the fence, I would recommend waiting for a sale.
Coffee Talk may not have fully executed on what it was going for, but the core message of drinks bringing people together to solve their problems is encouraging and brings to light a hopeful future.
Verdict: Coffee Talk is a unique game set in a modern fantasy world that had a lot of potential combining the storytelling of visual novels with the gameplay of brewing beverages. However, the game is disappointing in its execution.
- Engaging Modern Fantasy World
- Fantastic Pixel Art Style
- Relaxing Music
- Brewing Gameplay Lacks Complexity
- Character Stories Vary in Quality
- Absence of direct dialogue input feels disconnecting