From Route 59 and developed in lovely Australia, Necrobarista is a beautiful visual novel that brings a quirky take on the genre and on how we view death and ourselves. We follow Maddy, owner and barista of The Terminal, a coffee shop which serves both living customers who come in for a nice cup of the latest complicated, douchebag coffee drink, and the dead who choose to pass through on the way to the next realm.
We meet a cast of characters along the way: Chay, the previous owner who hangs around and still works at the place; Kishan, a recently-deceased young man who is grappling with his impending passing and reflects on time spent alive; Ashley, an energetic roboticist with a knack for turning milk cartons into crab droids; and Ned, an enforcer with a questionable past who comes to The Terminal to collect a “debt”. Other characters come in and out, each creating a richer world where demons and teenagers can intermingle among the finest beans in Melbourne.
As you read through the story, you receive special colored words, which provide deeper meaning and trigger memories. At the end of each part, and after you get a goofy banter from three of Ashley’s makeshift robots, you are free to select from the special words from the story. Selecting these words allows you to collect small memories, which can be used to access larger memories of events from The Terminal, such as a special billiards game or a basement fight club gone horribly wrong.
The memories enhance the story, revealing the motivations of characters and showing the atmosphere of The Terminal and why it is so important to both the living and the dead. These side memories help the player understand the game’s underlying themes – loss, regret, acceptance of your past and of your future, learning to live in the moment and fighting for it for as long as you are able.
While I’m not usually a big fan of the visual novel genre, I did enjoy my time with Necrobarista. The art style is wonderful, colorful with motion and life. Each scene flows smoothly with easy prompts, keeping you engaged in the story. The characters are well-thought and sympathetic. The story is thoughtful, and overall, I found it to be quite engaging. For some reason I didn’t really like the game’s title, but Necrobarista feels more ambitious than most visual novels, and fans of the genre are bound to have a good time with it. Now run along and enjoy your Lamingtons and goon.