Back in 2016, a visual novel/bartending hybrid called VA-11 Hall-A captured the hearts of many, combining a little slice of life with some drink mixing. It was an overall success, and it has a sequel set for release later this year. However, while you wait for that, another game looks to capture a similar combination. Coffee Talk has players running a coffee shop in an urban fantasy setting, making coffee while solving problems. Is it an interesting enough game to be worth playing through?
You play as the owner and sole employee of Coffee Talk, a coffee shop in Seattle that's only open at night. While your own story is a mystery, some characters guess you're an eccentric millionaire, your goal is to provide an ear for the various people that stop in looking for a coffee. While at the start you only have a few regulars, as the game advances you'll meet and greet plenty of weird and wild customers, all with their own little problems. With both a gaming expo and a famous concert on its way to Seattle, you'll soon find yourself having to help various characters before the events hit. While serving coffee, of course.
Where Everyone Knows Your Name
The various characters you meet and their personal stories are what make up the majority of Coffee Talk's story. You have an elf and a succubus trying to explore relationship issues with unapproving parents, a woman trying to write the next best-selling novel while hanging on to her job in journalism, a werewolf and a vampire discussing ways to help people, an alien trying to understand how to mate, and more. Each storyline plays out over the course of two weeks, with characters interacting with each other and trying to give advice between sips of coffee.
All of the characters are super easy to get attached to and provide an instantly relatable crowd. Before long, I found myself rooting for the lovers to make their relationship work, trying to think about the best way I could get the game developers to hook up, and laughing out loud at the antics of the clueless alien. There may not be any dialogue choices in Coffee Talk, but it's more just about watching the problems play out and offering up coffee in trying times. You're here to provide an ear, not solve their issues for them.
It took me about 8 hours to finish Coffee Talk's story. Once it was done I could replay the game, with some of the dialogue being different this time around. I don't want to spoil how or why, but it's a bit tough to recommend this second playthrough since you do have to go through a large amount of the same material to see the new stuff.
No One Told You Life Was Going to Be This Way
When it comes time to serve drinks, it's a rather simple system. All you have to do is pick a base, a primary ingredient, and a secondary ingredient. Certain drinks require using ingredients in a specific order, but you can usually pull your phone up and check the recipie if you ever happen to forget. Some drinks you have to make at least once before you get the ingredients on your phone, but the person ordering it often gives you a pretty good idea of what you're aiming for. There are a couple of clever moments, such as a raging werewolf demanding a drink without letting you look at your phone to double-check the ingredients, but ultimately it's pretty simple and the process of mixing drinks isn't really the point of the game.
If you happen to really enjoy the coffee brewing, there's also a pair of endless modes. One lets you freely make any drink you desire, so you can figure out combinations on your own. The other gives you a timer, with customers asking for specific drinks. Each time you make them the right drink you get a bit more time on the timer. However, the longer you play, the more complicated the orders get. It's a fun bonus, but really the coffee mixing is too simple to make it more than a few minutes worth of distraction.
Coffee Talk is wrapped up in one of the most relaxing and sweet aesthetics I've seen in a while. All of the music is very chill lo-fi beats, almost to the point where you could write Kind Words to them. The graphics manage to perfectly capture the sleepy Seattle nights, with the coffee shop vibe being strong and the pitter-patter of rain on the windows leading to one of the comfiest game worlds I got the pleasure of spending time in. This is a great way to end a day.
Coffee Talk Review | Final Thoughts
While making the actual coffee in Coffee Talk is okay at best, I came to love the world it was in. The characters are interesting and the stories that unfold in front of you are well worth paying attention to. Coffee Talk is such a sweet and wholesome game, capturing the coffee shop aesthetic so well. I almost wished it was a real place that I could escape to while I was writing this review. With a cinnamon hot chocolate to boot.
TechRaptor reviewed Coffee Talk on PC via Steam using a copy provided by the developer. The game is also available on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One.
- Fantastic Characters
- Great Aesthetic
- Interesting Slice of Life Stories
- Awesome Setting
- Second Playthrough Covers Too Much Similar Material
- Coffee Making is Okay at Best