*lo-fi music softly playing in background*
January 28, 2020 8:58 AM   Subscribe

Coffee Talk: a chill coffeeshop game where you play therapist to vampires, cat girls, and succubi [Game Trailer] “Coffee Talk is a game about listening to people’s problems and helping them by serving up a warm drink out of the ingredients you have in stock. It is a game that depicts lives as humanly as possible, while having a cast that is more than just humans. Immerse yourself in the stories of alternative-Seattle inhabitants, ranging from a dramatic love story between an elf and a succubus, an alien trying to understand humans’ lives, and many others modern readers will find strongly echo the world around them.”

• Decaf soy mocha frappe latte with nutmeg, please [Destructoid]
“The player dons the apron of an unseen barista, the owner of the titular late-night cafe in question, and will get to know some of the locals as they pop in and out of the shop, attempting to rest their troubled souls with a warm drink and some pleasant chat. Led by struggling young writer Freya, who can always be found propping up the counter, the Barista will meet loved-up couple Baileys (an elf) and Lua (a succubus), supermodel vampire Hyde, pop star Rachel, night-time beat cop Jorji, and several other interesting and unique customers, each of whom is trying to find their way through a weary world. [...] The cast of fantasy characters is charmingly-designed, with the whole HUD rendered in gorgeous, classic-adventure-game pixel art. Despite having few frames of animation, the clientele's personalities shine through with simple-but-expressive facial animation. Outside in the near-constant rain, silhouettes of the city-folk rush by, creating the cozy and immersive atmosphere that Toge Productions is clearly aiming for. A background jukebox rolls out warming jazz numbers, which offset the hustle and bustle of the busy streets. If Coffee Talk (the cafe) existed in reality, I'd honestly visit every night. And I don't think I can pay the atmosphere a higher compliment than that.”
• Sit down, stay a while [Polygon]
“Curiously, the storylines for customers are determined by what drinks you make them, not by your dialogue choices. One werewolf, for instance, comes in asking you to make him a ginger drink that will help manage monthly “furies” where he has to be restrained. I got that drink wrong, too, though the gracious werewolf said he’d be back to try it again later. I have a feeling that if I don’t get it right, it’s going to have huge ramifications for that character in the long run. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say you play as a therapist, rather than a barista. Much of the game is spent listening to your patrons talk about their day-to-day problems, giving the whole thing a slice-of-life feel. But the character’s issues are not the ones you and I might face, because many of them aren’t human. One troubled couple composed of an elf and a succubus, for example, come in agonizing over their romance. Apparently, their parents won’t approve of the relationship because of cultural differences, but also because of lifespan differences — elves live for a very long time. These characters will return later, sometimes alone, to discuss the finer points of the dilemma. You learn, for instance, that while the succubus adores the elf, she doesn’t want him to give up his immortality for her. It feels like too much to ask.”
posted by Fizz (34 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
Worked at a locally semi-famous cafe in Seattle when it was still open until 11pm, can say this is pretty accurate.
posted by zinful at 9:04 AM on January 28 [3 favorites]

It's like a spiritual sibling to VA-11 HALL-A, which was fantastic. I'm in.
posted by chrominance at 9:06 AM on January 28 [5 favorites]

At first it makes me think of VA-11 Hall-A, which the Destructoid review mentions too. Is this the start of the Serve-Em-Up genre?
posted by RobotHero at 9:07 AM on January 28

(despite the vaguely edgelord use of the word "waifu" in the description, VA-11 HALL-A is not that kind of game.)
posted by chrominance at 9:07 AM on January 28

This is like a video game of AskMe plus my dream of owning a neighborhood coffee shop. I don’t own gaming equipment but I want to figure out how to play this!!
posted by sallybrown at 9:14 AM on January 28 [6 favorites]

living the dream tbh
posted by poffin boffin at 9:21 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]

Do we put Neo Cab in the Serve-Em-Up genre as well?

Like do we include anything where you're doing a job while meeting people, or ...
posted by RobotHero at 9:21 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]

can i tell the vampires to bite more people
posted by poffin boffin at 9:23 AM on January 28 [6 favorites]

This puts me in mind of Oden Cart: A Heartwarming Tale (formerly An Oden Tale) where you're an old guy in Japan running a food cart, listening to your customers' gripes about their days and serving up their favorite foods. But this has vampires, so I'm intrigued anew.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:29 AM on January 28 [5 favorites]

Sounds a bit like another multiplayer game I just read about: Kind Words is the massive multiplayer game primarily about being nice to people.
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:29 AM on January 28 [9 favorites]

This is like a video game of AskMe plus my dream of owning a neighborhood coffee shop. I don’t own gaming equipment but I want to figure out how to play this!!

That this is a very low-fi style of gaming indicates that most contemporary lap-tops, even non-gaming ones should be able to handle this, it's essentially a point and click adventure. So you should be able to just go to steam, create an account and then head to the steam store and purchase, download, & play.

Do we put Neo Cab in the Serve-Em-Up genre as well?

Also, NeoCab is definitely worth playing. Cannot recommend this enough.
posted by Fizz at 9:31 AM on January 28 [3 favorites]

Is this the start of the Serve-Em-Up genre?

The Papa Louie games started in 2007. From what I can tell from the trailer, Coffee Talk is actually what /r/papas would call a Papalikelike.
posted by Jpfed at 9:31 AM on January 28 [2 favorites]

Though you didn't talk to the customers in Papa Louie beyond what do they want to eat. Is this greater emphasis on the customers having their own stories an important shift?
posted by RobotHero at 9:35 AM on January 28

Also worth checking out, any of the narrative games written by Mike Bithell (Subsurface Circular, Quarantine Circular), which we've discussed on the blue previously. It's a future where robots ride trams/trains and there's a lot of fascinating discussion on worker rights/humanity, etc. It's a bit more serious in tone but it has that same narrative choice model where you're talking to people in a confined space and the story develops out of that.
posted by Fizz at 9:45 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]

Coffee Talk

Came for the Linda Richman references, left disappointed...
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:47 AM on January 28 [2 favorites]

Its neither coffee, nor talk. Discuss amongst yourself.
posted by LionIndex at 9:49 AM on January 28 [6 favorites]

I came in to talk about Oden Cart but Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish beat me to it. This feels very similar--a succession of customers come to your noodle cart, you prepare and feed them the right foods, and slowly over successive visits you get their stories, which often overlap with the other customers. It's delightful. There are other similar games but Oden Cart has a relaxed, laid-back mood all its own. Also, free to play.
posted by Hogshead at 9:55 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]

It's Tokyo Diner Stories with click-to-continue, then? (This is not a bad thing.)
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:00 AM on January 28 [2 favorites]

Came for the Linda Richman references, left disappointed...

No big whoop.
posted by SoberHighland at 10:03 AM on January 28 [3 favorites]

OK, I never play games but I’m addicted to reading advice columns. Plus I live in Seattle and work in tech for a large coffee company, so I think I should try this.
posted by matildaben at 10:35 AM on January 28 [2 favorites]

I worked as a barista briefly in college, and if I made a game about it, it would be all about the awful coworker and boss politics.
posted by grumpybear69 at 10:41 AM on January 28 [2 favorites]

Like do we include anything where you're doing a job while meeting people, or ...

I haven't played Neo Cab (I really should play Neo Cab!) but one thing in Coffee Talk that does explicitly resemble VA-11 HALL-A, as opposed to any game where you do a job and chat with people, is that the way the conversations proceed are based not on what you say to the other person, but on what kind of drink you make for them. With VA-11 HALL-A, the concept of "messing up" someone's order is pretty minimal, so the kind of drink you make becomes a bit more of a form of expression on the part of your character, Jill the bartender.

Based on the second quote of the [more inside] Coffee Talk might lean a little more towards strictly adhering to what the customer asked for, but it's hard to say for sure. But I liked how that aspect of VA-11 HALL-A echoed the half-joke mantra the game recites occasionally: "time to mix drinks and change lives."
posted by chrominance at 11:00 AM on January 28

As an aside, an intriguing predecessor to the Neo Cab idea of talking to your passengers while driving a cab is Wheels of Aurelia, where you play an Italian driver in the 70s who roams the highways, picks up hitchhikers, and has interesting discussions with them. I have yet to play it and critical reception seems mixed, but it's been on my radar for a while now.
posted by chrominance at 11:04 AM on January 28 [3 favorites]

So it's the teetotal version of Bartender? (Which has a very catchy opening song, content warning for alcohol)
posted by polytope subirb enby-of-piano-dice at 11:06 AM on January 28

This sounds great but wasn't there *already* a Callahan's Crosstime Saloon videogame?
posted by MarchHare at 11:40 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]

Came for the Linda Richman references, left disappointed...

OP totally whiffed by not ending the post with: "Talk amongst yourselves."
posted by mikeand1 at 11:53 AM on January 28

Totally unrealistic. Customers are smoking in the cafe! That completely breaks my suspension of disbelief.

(Elves, succubi, and dwarves are totally fine though)
posted by fnerg at 2:58 PM on January 28

THIS is what I want from a tavernkeep game - the getting-to-know-your-customers bit while also doing your tavernkeep-esque job and make things for people. I really enjoyed VA-11 HALL-A and this seems up my alley (and it's on Xbox yay!).

A lot of the other tavernkeep/shopkeep games I've seen leaned too heavy on the resource management side of things (or ridiculously difficult combat) and didn't really have that human element I was after - the customers were just quiet NPCs with no personality. I binged through My Time At Portia the past few weeks and it did scratch that kind of itch, especially with the human relationships, though not so much with a shop (I could sell what I made to people but I couldn't exactly set up a shop front). I know Stardew Valley is similar, but SDW is a little too open-ended - I liked that Portia had a plotline and that my character was heavily connected in this story and got to see it through the end.

Combine games like this/VA-11 HALL-A with some way to make/forage my own wares and do some kind of shop management (though not overwhelmingly complicated) and you've got my dream game.
posted by divabat at 6:41 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]

I don’t game. But this? As an ex-bartender who loved her job and regulars — second fav but hard on feet — I’m drawn to the premise. I’m under a fair amount of good work stress right now and this looks like it could be the low key way to unwind I need when I get home. Is this something that would be an app? It’d be great for brain breaks at work . . . thanks fizz, your timing is serendipitous.
posted by lemon_icing at 10:45 AM on January 29

;n; crying until I can play this on PC . . . or mobile . . . or Switch, I'll buy a Switch, please!
posted by meemzi at 11:28 PM on January 29

Supposedly it'll be on Windows in "late January" so prospects seem good!
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:22 AM on January 30

It's a testament to Clair de Lune that even with the remix I recognized it about 0.8 seconds in. Nice!
posted by freecellwizard at 11:46 AM on January 31

The Switch, PS4, Xbox, Mac, and PC versions are available now.
posted by mbrubeck at 12:17 PM on January 31

I've just played through the game! It's cute, and it is very VA-11 HALL-A esque. The game logic for figuring out how to brew a drink when you don't already have a recipe could use some work but it was pretty cool to realise through the drink names that the developers are Indonesian - lots of references from there.
posted by divabat at 12:20 AM on February 2

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