Ah, coffee. I can’t even imagine how much of it I drank during my late night to early morning gaming sessions. Coffee was there with me when taking down powerful bosses, revealing plot twists, losing in Mortal Kombat matches and watching the end credits. We’ve been through a lot, yeah. So it’s no surprise that they’ve finally made a game about it. Kind of. Actually, no. Coffee plays a big part here but there’s a lot more to learn about the world and the people you share a cup in Coffee Talk. Let’s dive in.
In Coffee Talk, you’re the worst kind of therapist. The unpaid one. To be fair, you’re a barista and listening to people’s problems is just one part of your job (that wasn’t in the contract). The story takes place in a slightly altered version of Seattle, inhabited with humans but also with elves, succubi, mermaids, orcs, and aliens. By listening to their woes you learn more about them and maybe, just maybe you discover a bigger plot regarding all of your customers and Seattle in general. Whatever happens in the end, it’s safe to say you still won’t get paid for all of your troubles.
They all have their share of problems and you won’t help them by selecting a correct dialogue option like in other games. In this game, you get them to open up by serving a correct drink. Sometimes it’s something as simple as a cup of coffee and sometimes their requests get a bit complicated. What’s interesting is that customers will never tell you specifically what they want, instead, they’ll drop hints how they’re in the mood for “something sweet” or “something bitter”. And this is the part where you have to use your brain a bit. Aside from coffee, you have other stuff in your baristas catalogs such as chocolate, milk, and tea. Now, by adding some chocolate in the coffee you will certainly end up with “something sweet” or “something bitter” if you decide to experiment with milk and tea. All the recipes are for you to discover. So, by serving the correct beverage (ranging from warm, cool, sweet and bitter), you get your customers to open up about their woes and progress the game story further.
If the story and gameplay mechanics didn’t entice you to give Coffee Talk a chance, the visuals certainly will. The game features an incredibly detailed and charming pixel art bursting with background activity. The main (and only) playable screen of the game is shown from your perspective, focused on the current customer(s) in front of you and the coffee brewing ingredients on the right. However, way way back in the window behind you can notice the weird version of Seattle brimming with nightlife. The rain, the cars passing by, the pedestrians….it’s the stuff like these where it is clearly shown that the developers went the extra mile. It wasn’t required of them to do so, but it made the world of Coffee Talk way more immersive.
We don’t want to rely on our coffee brewing sounds alone or on the night traffic outside, so there is some good selection of music in Coffee Talk to lull us into the late-night chill. On the left side of the screen, you have a handy touchpad containing all the information about your customers (including their likes and dislikes), your discovered brewing recipes and most importantly – a great selection of chill and lo-fi tunes. They’re all instrumental but distinctively different. Playing them has no effect on the mood of the customers, it’s just something for your pleasure while you listening to them opening up about their troubles.
Coffee Talk is a game with a simple, yet unique premise. It might not have some long, intricate and convoluted plot but it definitely has the charm to spare. It’s one of those games you might start up when you don’t know what else to play and soon enough you find yourself sinking hours into it. Besides the gorgeous art and meditative music, it’s the cast of weird Seattle characters that make the game memorable. It’s a perfect game after a long day at work to relax you and make you forget about dealing with the real world. After all, being in the company of elves, orcs, and mermaids over a relaxing beverage seems far more interesting. Coffee Talk is a game you deserve to play after a long day to unwind. Don’t wait, dive into the world of magic-infused Seattle and make yourself a cup of coffee while at it. I couldn’t imagine a better gaming companion with this release.
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