Sometimes, you just gotta go where people know your name. In this case, it’s not a bar to drown your sorrows in but a coffee shop where you get to immerse yourself in the melodramatic lives of alternative Seattleites. Known for My Lovely Daughter, Rage in Peace, and Infectonator: Survivors, Toge Production comes out with Coffee Talk, an interactive experience that’s all about listening to other people. Serving up hot drinks with a limited ingredients list is an amazing feat, but the heart of the game lies in the interaction with customers.
The unique customers who walk into this coffee shop are the main focus and they’re definitely more varied and colorful than the usual Seattleites: the werewolf with a gentle soul seeks out a remedy to control his transformation during the full moon; a young human writer secretly working on a passion project while on the clock at her current journalism job; or an elf and succubus couple faced with insurmountable obstacles if they decide to share their lives with one another. It’s also typical for customers to talk to each other about their issues and receive advice from those offering a different perspective on the situation. Just like in real life.
The barista has a smartphone for storing coffee recipes called Brewpad, but there’s another one called The Evening Whispers, where it updates with a short story that loosely pertains to the events going on in the coffee bar. World events are also loosely brought up as newspaper headlines to provide bits of color. These are never resolved, but the real world has a lot of issues too that even rational people can’t always solve. Like when the hazelnut flavoring is unavailable, what is one to do?
There is an endless brew mode to fill out the Brewpad app and to find new recipes to add to the roster. There’s also a challenge mode where the barista has to sling drinks on a timer, and as time goes on drink descriptions become more vague. This did help to itch the need of my dream to pursue a career as a barista, but a bit more variety would have been nice.
While extremely minimalistic, the visual effects feature a mix of 90s anime style, classic pixel art adventure games, and imagery that’s a cool throwback to lo-fi chillhop music. The sound of rain and the chill soundtrack playing in the background made for a delightfully cozy experience.
Coffee Talk is all about listening to customers and their problems, offering a refreshing change of pace from the usual visual novel fare. Listening to the issues these fantasy-inspired inhabitants face while going about their daily lives is weirdly therapeutic, even if everything happens in some alternative-universe. While the majority of the conversations lean on the wholesome side, with customers taking the advice of others a bit too well, they serve as a reminder to the rest of us what’s possible when you’re willing to slow down and listen. While highly caffeinated, of course.