Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
[Review copy provided by Toge Productions]
Grab a cup of hot and get cosy for this one! Coffee Talk (developed by Toge Productions) tells the story of the titular coffee shop and it’s clientele. Set in an alternative Seattle where fantasy races exist, Coffee Talk follows a small cast of customers and their day-to-day lives.
Playing as the eponymous shop’s barista, it’s your job to listen to your customers and provide the drinks they desire. Beyond that, simply relax and enjoy the small talk. Coffee Talk wears its inpsirations on it’s sleeve, but the game doesn’t feel overly derivative.
Although the game is very linear, the player can affect the outcome of their customers’ stories by providing good service. Offer the right drinks at the right time, and your friendships will grow. The game rewards attention and good memory, but it’s never too punishing if you muddle something up.
Although the orders are usually quite simple, there are a few times where a customer asks you for a drink you probably haven’t made before. Attempting to intuit the proper ingredients is sometimes pure guess-work, though many of the game’s unique brews are based on real drinks. With a bit of know-how (or Google), you can usually work it out. Unfortunately, the game is picky about the ingredient order, which can make the difference between a Black Magic and a generic Honey Mint Coffee.
There’s also rarely a reason to use many of the recipes, unless they’re asked for specifically. At times I tried to get fancy and wound up disappointing my customers. When tasked with making a “sweet drink with milk in it”, generic brews turned out to be safer bets.
Still, the game is about as far from frustrating as you can really get. It’s the visual novel version of a “Morning Coffee and Chill” playlist on Youtube – inviting and relaxing. Although the game covers mature topics, such as interracial romance or the dark side of stardom, it does so in a reserved and comfortable fashion. Many of the game’s talking points are quite topical and familiar.
At times, this restraint can to be the game’s detriment. There’s a lot left unsaid in this game, which can be a shame. These are characters I would have liked to spend more time with, and learn more about. Hyde and Gala particularly stood out to me, but for all their history, you only really get a small taste.
As well as the characters, several themes and ideas are brought up through newspaper articles and social media profiles, but are rarely explored in much detail. They serve to flesh out the game’s world, but ultimately their impact isn’t often felt.
All-in-all I spent about 4 hours completing the game’s main story, and then another hour experimenting with recipes and revisiting key moments. Coffee Talk makes it easy to find the things you missed the first time around. You’re free to restart any day at any time, and fast-forward through things you’ve seen before. The game also features an Endless mode, which is the best way to fill out your recipe list. I’d recommend doing this to find a few important drinks.
Overall, I enjoyed my brief time with Coffee Talk quite a bit. It’s a comfy, relaxing game, and a perfect break from the day-to-day grind. Experiences like these are like oases among a slew of open world looter-shooters. Most importantly, Coffee Talk left me wanting more of it’s world and it’s characters. That’s a rare and special quality.
If you enjoyed games like Va-11 Hall-A, or you’re just looking for an easy read to relax with, then you should definitely check Coffee Talk out.
Coffee Talk brings all the charm and atmosphere of an ideal coffee shop, starring a colourful cast of characters with simple, but relatable stories to tell. The game is a bit on the short side, however, and at times can be fussy when it doesn’t really need to be. While the game handles difficult topics in a sensible way, it’s all very surface level, and can leave you wanting for more depth and detail. At times it can feel like a lot is left unsaid or under-explored. Still, what Coffee Talk does offer is satisfying enough to recommend.