Review: Coffee Talk

Hey everyone! Yes you may be surprised It is me on the videogame crusade lately, but for once in a really long time I’ve had spare time to play on my PC or the Switch and try out a few games out there. So today I wanted to talk to you about Coffee Talk, a nice little independent game by Toge Productions. And just as a head up, depending how much of a purist of videogames you are, you may not consider this as much as a traditional videogame but more of a visual novel or interactive story. In any case, there is currently a free demo on the Switch, and the game only cost me like £8.00, and it is also available on Steam.

The premise is that you run a café that stays open until dark where people come and gather. You find out about their personal stories; you help them out with a hot drink of their choice (sometimes just whatever you want) and so the narrative develops. It’s all 2d animation, (pixel art) but the characters are very well distinguished, the colours are rather pleasant and it all conjures a sincere sense of familiarity and tranquillity – it also comes with a super smooth jazz playlist so, there is that! The game play is very basic. All the dialogue is straight forward, and you don’t have any choices to make in there (which is perhaps the one thing I wished was different about this game). You have some main ingredients which depending how you combine them you create this or that hot beverage based on coffee, tea, green tea, chocolate, or milk products. You don’t know more than a couple of basic recipes to begin with, and depending how you combine things along the way you learn more, which is handy because sometimes the main characters of this story will come and ask you for a drink by it’s specific name in the game and if you haven’t discover it yet, you gotta wing it. And why does this matter? Well, because if you get the drink wrong, it actually has an impact in the narrative!  The cool thing abut this is that you won’t actually know how it is impacting the game unless you start a new game again and try to avoid making the same mistakes, so here is some interesting replayability value if you are the completionist type and you want to know all possible permutations of these stories, I think it is a great idea. There is also a challenge mode, to try and get you to speed up with your drink orders, and an endless loop where you can discover new drinks without the pressure of the narrative – or if you are a clumsy person like me, you can practice your latte art, so that the characters in the game don’t criticise you for it (LOL).

But, without a doubt, as much as I love the chill concept of making coffee to help people with their struggles, the narrative is the best part. Every character has a specific viewpoint or relatable issue, and actually I must say now that the topics addressed by the game are actually quite hard hitting with current social issues. I have just forgotten to tell you that the setting or the game takes place in an imaginary alternative reality where Seatle in the current time, is a fantasy city with orcs, elves, vampires, etc, so this is a multicultural modern fantasy society. I really appreciated this not just for the freshness of the concept art, but also because it brings new light to the genre of fantasy, and it utilises this so effectively to approach current subjects which us humans should be better at handling. Just to give you a few examples, there are reflections and digs about racial profiling, xenophobia, interracial/cultural relationships, dating and dating apps, the videogame and pop culture industry itself, the lives of freelancers such as artists and writers, personal trauma, fighting ones own demons, class divide… and much more.

I was playing the demo, and just a few minutes into it, I was so taken by the characters and the stories that I bought the game, no regrets. If you are a Netflix nerd like me and like watching random things, this game has a similar feel to the Midnight Diner ( which if you haven’t watch and you have played Coffee Talk, I sincerely recommend, or if you like wholesome humane stories all the same, go watch it). It was a very welcome change of pace for a few hours, away from killing people, building empires or being an absolute hero, and catching them all Pokémon. Sometimes, we just need a little reminder of all the good we can do in the world by just being ourselves, and Coffee Talk definitely achieves that with a certain feel-good vibe about it.