Coffee Talk Review
Coffee Talk is a brilliant indie game. It’s a coffee shop simulator at its core, but the wider appeal of the game are the NPCs, and the goings-on in their daily life. In the game, you own a coffee shop in Seattle, but a Seattle in an alternate universe. In this universe, humans are not the only race. There are elves, orcs, mermaids, and even aliens (or they’re humans. It’s confusing.)
Creating Coffee and Talking the Talk
If you don’t like reading, don’t play this game. While it’s true you can make coffee for your patrons, that makes up a very small portion of the game. What you will mostly be doing is listening to what your customers have to say, and occasionally offering words of your own. When you do make coffee, you can mix and match a variety of ingredients to make different drinks, from the simple Espresso to exotic drinks from Indonesia, to even cures for Werewolf-ism. (Is that a word?)
Once you prepare the drink, you hand it over to the customer, sit back and soak in the story. There’s no economic aspect in the game, and money doesn’t change hands. According to the game, you, as the owner of the coffee shop, get by just fine without actually selling your drinks.
If the story isn’t your thing, and you prefer to just make drinks, there is also a Free Brew mode, where you can just make whatever you want. If you want to take your Coffee Creativity to the next level, you can also make some latte art with certain types of coffee.
There are a lot of drinks you can make so it’s easy to forget some of the recipes. Luckily, your handy-dandy phone contains a Brewpad. Also on your phone is a Facebook-like app, with details of everyone you meet throughout the game; a newspaper app, where you can read short stories and articles written by one of the game’s characters; and a music app, allowing you to change the music in the coffee shop.
Speaking of the music, Coffee Talk does that really well. There is a certain feel to the songs in the game, making you want to move forward in life, but also appreciate the moment and the way things are right now. I’m actually listening to the soundtrack while writing this review, and it can be found on Spotify.
The game is also really short. Fourteen in-game days to play through, and none of them particularly long. You can finish the whole game in a day. If you want to beat it 100%, you’ll need to spend some more time in Free Brew mode, making all the other drinks in the game.
I really don’t want to talk too much about the story, since that is the main selling point of the game. But I can talk about the general points and leave you to discover the specifics.
Coffee Talk features a plethora of characters that come and go, each of them having a unique story to tell and a different dynamic to add to the cast. A constant in the story, however, is Freya, an aspiring writer who decides to write a dramatized version of day-to-day happenings in the Coffee Shop.
Coffee Talk also does some social commentary. In one instance, it compares the prejudice humans have against merpeople, which is a minor plot point, to racism in the real world, highlighting how odd it is that members of the same species can hate members that are just like them, only colored differently. There are other such plot points, with a focus on treating everyone equally. This is woven really well into the story, and I only noticed it on my second playthrough.
The story ends with everyone you meet wrapping up their story. Some get their happily ever afters, some don’t. It’s bittersweet, but hey, that’s life.
Perfectly Produced Pixels
Coffee Talk is a 2D game, made with pixel art. The art, however, is really detailed, making the game look more like a series of drawings than a clump of pixels on the screen. The whole game has this really warm aesthetic, making you feel like you are actually in some small coffee shop in some alley of Seattle. The people walking by, who you can see through the window, make it feel like the world is actually alive, and you are just a small cog in the machine of life.
Coffee Talk is a phenomenal game. Definitely one of the best indie games I’ve played in a while. It is a game that reveals bits of itself the more you play it, even including an alternate ending. (ooh!) At $12.99, the game is well worth every penny. If you enjoy story-based games and/or making coffee, Coffee Talk is the game for you.