What Is Coffee Talk?
Coffee Talk is a new indie video game based around the two elements of its title: coffee and talking. Set in an alt-universe Seattle in 2020, you will brew drinks for a range of customers representing many different species including elves, succubi, vampires, werewolves, and more. As they drink, your customers will talk about their problems, inviting you to become part of their world.
Coffee Talk Age Rating
Coffee Talk is rated PEGI 12 and ESRB T for “use of tobacco, language, and sexual themes.”
Coffee Talk is available on:
Windows System Specifications
- OS: Windows 7 SP1+
- Processor: 2.4 GHz or faster processor
- Memory: 2 GB RAM
- Graphics: 512 MB display memory
- DirectX: Version 9.0c
- Storage: 600 MB available space
- Sound Card: Stereo
Coffee Talk Trailer
Coffee Talk Gameplay
Coffee Talk opens with a brief explanation of the world in which it is set. This alternative version of Seattle is populated with all manner of fantasy and fictional creatures, and you’ll get to meet them all from behind your counter. The game has a distinctive, pixellated art style. The characters, in particular, look as if they have just stepped out of a ’90s-era copy of Street Fighter and there is a strong ’90s vibe to the whole thing.
The vast majority of the gameplay, if you can call it that, consists of tapping through dialogue. There are no options to select from in order to make choices and determine outcomes, this is more akin to jumping from panel to panel through a pre-written comic book. The idea is to read, become immersed in the world, and to relax. With its unique soundtrack and minimal challenges, Coffee Talk is easily the most chilled-out video game I have ever played. Should you miss any of the dialogue or want to remember something said earlier in the conversation, you can check the log and scroll back to re-read your conversation.
The game is played over a number of days—well, evenings really. As dusk settles each day you will be shown the front page of the daily free local newspaper, The Evening Whispers, before opening up shop to greet your first customers. Many nights, this will be Freya, the first character you meet and a writer at the same newspaper you just read. Through the evening, other customers will come and go—some familiar, some new faces, and the story will slowly unfold before you.
There are some activities to do while you play. Primarily, making drinks. When your customers arrive they will usually order something from you, occasionally more than once. At this point, you’ll be taken to the drinks-making screen where you can select from a range of bases and extra items including honey, lemon, ginger, and cinnamon. Combining these ingredients will allow you to make a variety of teas, coffees, hot chocolates, and some other items too. Some customers will know exactly what they want while others are open to experiments or only give a vague suggestion, e.g. “something bitter to keep me awake, with milk.”
On the drinks screen, you will be able to see how your creation is rated in four areas: warm, cool, sweet, and bitter. You can use these gauges to play around with the ingredients and try to create drinks that fulfill your customers’ wishes. Whether or not they like the drinks you make does have an impact on the storyline—consistently make incorrect orders or drinks that don’t match requests and you’ll quickly end up declining in popularity.
The final element of drink making is latte art. This is optional after making certain drinks, although some customers will specifically request it. I found latte art the hardest part of the game to master. You can control the rotation of the cup, when to pour milk, and move the milk jug around freely, but I could just never quite figure it all out in a pleasing way. A scroll through the #CoffeeTalk hashtag on Twitter reveals some incredibly impressive creations by other players, however, along with a lot of impressive fan art.
The only other interactive part of Coffee Talk is your cellphone. Accessible at any time, your phone includes four useful apps, and Brewpad is easily the most helpful. Here you will initially find a handful of drinks recipes, and as you discover more, they will be added to the app, helping you serve tricky customers later in the game. Tomodachill is a social media type app that keeps track of all the people who visit the shop. As they visit regularly, their profiles will increase in detail so you can get to know them better. TEW Stories (short for The Evening Whisper Stories) is the fiction section of the local paper and here you can read through the stories Freya has been writing while sitting in your shop, and Shuffl’d is a music app that you can use to change the music playing in the background.
Finally, away from the main game, there are two additional modes you can play in Coffee Talk that both offer a little more interactivity. Free Brew allows you to experiment freely with the full range of ingredients available during the game, brewing up whatever takes your fancy. It’s also a good place to play around with latte art if you want to improve your skills. Challenge Mode is a timed challenge to create drinks as quickly as you can for different customers. This is the only part of the game that actually feels game-like, and while I avoided it after my first attempt, it may well appeal to others.
Expansions and In-Game Purchases
There are no expansions or in-game purchases with Coffee Talk, however, you can choose to purchase the soundtrack and/or an art book.
Coffee Talk is a visual novel game, a genre that originated in Japan and is characterized by a resemblance to mixed-media novels—indeed while playing it often felt as if I had stepped into the pages of a weird Frasier-meets-Lord of the Rings graphic novel. Although hugely popular in Japan, these games have yet to gain the same appeal in the West, and so this is the first time I had ever played one.
As you may have figured out from the gameplay information above, there is very little to actually do in this game. Arguably, this could be seen as incredibly dull. My ten-year-old son watched me playing for a couple of minutes, looked at me as if I had suffered an unfortunate brain injury, and asked, “Is this all you do?” Then he went into another room to play Roblox. I can kind of understand where he’s coming from. However, my argument in reply would be that there is also very little to “do” while reading a book! Coffee Talk is about immersion in a fantasy world, about becoming a part of a story you are reading rather than playing a game in the traditional sense.
My biggest gripe with Coffee Talk is that constantly pressing a button to move the dialog along becomes annoying fast and because it’s nearly always the same button, I felt as if an RSI flare-up was always just around the corner. While there is an “auto” mode, pressing the button to activate it never did anything in my PS4 copy of the game, so I was stuck endlessly pressing X to keep things moving.
If you’re looking for a game with lots to do, Coffee Talk is definitively not it. Making an occasional drink is as close as you’re going to come to action here and figuring out how to make a new one is the only puzzle you’ll need to solve. The most challenging part of the whole game is designing latte art that doesn’t look like a blob. However, if you are looking for something different, something to play while you unwind at the end of a busy day, then Coffee Talk might well be exactly your cup of tea. Or coffee…
If you’re interested in giving the game a try, free demos are available on most platforms that allow you to play through a full day including interacting with customers, making drinks, and attempting latte art.
GeekMom received a copy of this game for review purposes.