Coffee Talk is the kind of game I would never have thought to ask for, but it is exactly what I needed to take a break from my normal video game fare. There’s nothing to kill or beat up here, just pleasant conversations in a humble coffee shop, and plenty of drinks to go around. There aren’t any skill challenges per se, but there is a bit of a challenge in figuring out how to make the various drinks that are asked for. The more you know about coffees, teas, and hot chocolates, the easier this whole process will be. In this fictional version of Seattle, you never know who will walk through the door as it could be anything from a struggling writer, an alien, or a vegan vampire. This is our Coffee Talk review.
One of the things which initially drew me to Coffee Talk is I’ve always toyed with the idea of running a coffee shop, but I also always thought if I did run one, I’d have to make it a night shop. I mean, most coffee shops open at 6:00 am and that’s just too dang early. This is precisely the set-up here. You run a coffee shop which is only open during the night and talk with your customers.
One key aspect is how you serve them, or rather how accurately you recreate the drinks they ask for. I honestly underestimated this part initially. Every drink can only have three ingredients in it, so it seemed really simple. However, it’s not just what you put into the drink but also the order in which they are added, which matters. Serving someone the wrong drink can have drastic effects, though getting it exactly right can also turn someone around.
Even with my limited knowledge about the various drinks asked for, I generally could figure things out quickly. During every night in-game I was allowed to throw away five drinks before I was forced to serve whatever I had. Honestly, five drinks is a very generous buffer to figure things out. The characters, for the most part, all give clear directions on what they want, which helped a lot.
Even the ones who were more vague about what they wanted were fine. There’s a readout of what each ingredient does before you add it. For example, adding honey would increase the sweetness while adding ginger would increase the warmth and bitterness. So if someone asked for a warm sweet drink, I could mouse over everything before selecting it. Plus, I could select ingredients, and as long as I didn’t click brew, I could reset it as much as I wanted.
One of the real strengths is how naturally all of the conversations felt. It’s funny to think about because most people have hundreds of conversations a day, but dialogue can be some of the hardest things to write. I never had a moment here where the conversations felt unnatural or forced, and that’s a big achievement. Despite most of the characters being otherworldly, the problems and situations they talked about are incredibly relatable, and I found myself wishing I could have more options to help them out.
That is the only real downside I could find with this game. I understand the way I made the drinks filled this role, but there were a few times I wanted more control over how my character responded. This desire probably stems from my enjoyment of RPGs, where I’m usually given a few options for how to react in dialogues. Despite not having any control over how I responded, I was always eager to see what would happen next. Or who would show up and cause a scene, and if, in the end, everything would have a happy ending. If you enjoy interesting stories with a nonlinear flow, this is one game you’ll want to give your undivided attention.
I was a bit nervous about the whole “latte art” aspect because I am definitely, not an artist. One character even commented on how terrible my art was. However, I don’t think how you draw on the drinks had any effect on how things proceeded. Everything seemed to depend on if I made the drinks correctly or not. I’m tempted to do a playthrough where I make all of the drinks wrong to see what would happen. I would feel terrible because I honestly liked all of the characters and was rooting for things to work out for them; I’m just curious. That’s the real strength of Coffee Talk. The characters all felt real; quite a few strongly reminded me of people I know as well, which was a cool bonus.
I wish the cafe in Coffee Talk were real because I would want to spend all of my time there. The atmosphere is chill and fun, but you never quite know what is going to happen one day to the next. With the replayability of not only trying to see all the possible endings but also trying to unlock all the recipes, this game can easily keep you busy for quite a while. Coffee Talk is available now on PC, Switch, PS4, and Xbox One for $13.
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Coffee Talk was reviewed on PC using a copy supplied by PR.