You walk in the door to the smell of fresh ground coffee and the murmurs of the people as they enjoy their favorite hot drinks. Getting to the counter to make your order, you strike up a conversation with a random bystander who is there to do the same thing. The discussion leads to the both of you sharing your various life experiences and getting to know each other just a little bit better. Walking away, you have a better feel of yourself and the day/night ahead. This is the experience that Coffee Talk looks to capture. The subtle nuances of going to your favorite place for a little peace, a nice conversation, and a better feel for the people and world around you. Is this the perfect cup or does it just miss the mark?
Coffee Talk takes place in Seattle in an alternate timeline. It’s a version of the year 2020 where the world is inhabited by more than humans: elves, orcs, werewolves, vampires, and more, are all present. You play as a barista who is simply there to get them their drink of choice, providing an opportunity to observe and participate in their day-to-day lives and the events which take place. The game plays like a visual novel with you making drinks to push the narrative along; but where that story will take may surprise you.
Here’s what I liked:
What an interesting person — The cast of characters here is extremely diverse, each having their own unique set of circumstances. Their dilemmas bleed together to form a cohesive narrative and it is genuinely interesting to watch how they interact. The way they are presented and handled really gives you as the player something to root for.
Wait, what was that drink again? — The only true interactive part of this game is the making of the coffee/tea beverages that the customers order. It is an intriguing system learning how to make certain drinks and some of the history behind them. With that said, it will have you wanting to try a new drink the next time you go to a coffee shop.
Just let the music breathe — The soundtrack to this game is beautiful in its composition. All composed by Andrew Jeremy, the lo-fi mix hits all the right notes to sit back, relax, and enjoy what the story has to offer. It’s something that you can throw on any time you want to relax, in a way that transcends even the game itself.
What I didn’t like:
Just a little deeper — Coffee Talk explores a lot of different issues over the course of its story, with themes ranging from work-induced stress to inter-racial dating. While it does a good job in navigating these issues in an honest, heartfelt way, it could have fleshed them out a bit further.
A little more to say — While there is a clear narrative at play here, I do wish we could have had some branching paths in how the story could play out. A few dialogue choices to truly give the player agency as the barista by having some choices to advance the story would go a long way.
Coffee Talk is an extremely pleasant experience from start to finish that tackles some difficult social issues in the process. The characters are extremely charming and the writing is very well done. I found myself rooting for these characters and looking forward to each day at the coffee shop to see who would show up and where those situations would leave them. I am happy to report that it did not disappoint.
Score: Reader’s Choice
Coffee Talk was developed by Toge Productions and produced by Chorus Worldwide Games. The game released on January 1st, 2020 for $13.99. A copy was provided for review purposes.