During all of this self-isolation stuff, I’ve been using my free time to chip away at my atrocious backlog, and one of those games just happened to be the Indonesian-developed indie Coffee Talk. And I loved it.
The game takes place in a fantasy-sprinkled Seattle in the year 2020, with humans living among the likes of orcs, elves, succubi, and more. You play as the owner and sole barista at Coffee Talk, a local coffee shop that’s only open at weird hours, doesn’t attract a ton of business, yet always manages to keep the lights on. You’ll engage in conversation with your regular customers, meet some new ones, and become the go-to safe-space establishment for a ragtag group of wonderful characters to meet and chat every couple of days.
There are no choices to make a-la visual novels or adventure games, but you are a barista so you’ll have to sling drinks from behind the counter to keep the plot rolling. Some patrons are pretty specific about what they want to order, but others just give you clues as to what ingredients you’ll want to add to appease their mood.
Drinks are made by combining three ingredients, with at least one being a “base,” like coffee, tea, green tea, chocolate, or milk, and the other two being the server’s choice, namely accents like mint, honey, ginger, lemon, etc. For instance, if you’re asked for an espresso, all three ingredients are just coffee, but one part coffee and two parts of milk will produce a cappuccino. If you’re ever unsure how to make something, there’s a handy in-game app that’ll act as a recipe book, but I had more fun experimenting (since you’re given 5 attempts per drink).
Coffee Talk really is as simple as that. For a majority of my three-hour playthrough I sat and read conversations between myself and other patrons, and occasionally made a few drinks whenever an order was placed. It’s really all about the characters, their stories, and how their lives begin to intertwine with one another. It was sweet watching two regulars with opposite personalities find common ground in the world of game development and blossom into a strong friendship by the end of the game.
Overall, it’s a wonderful little game with a great pixel aesthetic, an appropriately atmospheric soundtrack full of slow jazz tunes, and some fascinating characters that quickly grow over such a short amount of time. The overall narrative is sublime, but the hidden chapter that opens up in a subsequent playthrough elevates the mystery to a new level.
Coffee Talk is short, sweet, and provided a much-needed wholesome distraction during such a shitty time. It’s well worth its $12.99 asking price.