PAX Australia is on this weekend and, in an alternate reality, I’m sitting in a Melbourne cafe with my morning coffee before hitting the gaming booths. However, PAX Aust is not “in-person” this year. Due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions across Melbourne and my hometown Sydney, I am drinking a virtual coffee in the digital world via Necrobarista: Final Pour. It’s kind of perfect for Day 9 of our 31 Days of Halloween Games.
What is Necrobarista: Final Pour?
The original game Necrobarista was reviewed for GeekMom last year during PAX Online 2020 (you can read it here). Since then, the game has had an upgrade with the DLC Final Pour. The good news is the soul of the game has remained the same.
Necrobarista is a soft visual novel with gameplay that involves the player in solving the mystery. It plays in two parts: The story and the sleuthing. The story is delivered in chapters through a comic-book style, set in a Melbourne-esque cafe in the alleys of Carlton (a real Melbourne suburb). The star of the show is Maddy, the Necrobarista and owner of the cafe named The Terminal. Many people think all cafes in Melbourne are pretty special, but The Terminal is something more: it is a nexus point allowing the recently dead to spend 24-hours of chill (or discussion) before moving beyond the veil into the afterlife. Very Halloween-like, don’t you think?
The second part is the gameplay between chapters. This has changed a bit with the addition of Final Pour. Previously, the in-between allowed for exploration of this “in-between” cafe. Word games were presented and your selection would open up different clues as the story unfolds. The way the game was designed, you never had enough words or points to unlock all of the clues until the very end, post-epilogue. With the update, this requirement has been removed so you can simply highlight the hidden stories and read them at will.
What Else Is New on the Menu?
Necrobarista: Final Pour is DLC (downloadable content) and not a sequel. It’s important to remember this because while there is some new material, it definitely is not enough to make a separate game (like a sequel). It is just enough to extend the story a bit without changing it too dramatically. Final Pour includes two bits of DLC previously released, Walking to the Sky and Devil’s Den. The DLC was previously released via Steam and Apple Arcade. Both Walking to the Sky and Devil’s Clan are additional side stories, delving a little further into the history of The Terminal, Maddy, and characters. There are also two additional mechanics introduced with Final Pour. Neither of which are essential to the story-telling but add a fun extra bit to the game. In between chapters, we are introduced to Ashley’s robots, with their own personalities and backstory. Doodle Mode allows you the ability to draw faces for each of Ashley’s robots in whatever style you wish.
The other addition, Studio Mode, is a little more complex and technical. Players can create their own scenes using assets directly from the game. Essentially, you are encouraged to create fanfiction with Necrobarista and expand the world with your own ideas. Usually, creatives are discouraged from venturing into fanfiction for anything, so it is really surprising for an indie like Route 59 to support it. Surprising but great! The downside is its technical level—I honestly had no idea what I am doing and will need to spend A LOT of time trying to figure it out.
BYO Cozy Vibes
I first reviewed Necrobarista on Steam, however, I played Necrobarista: Final Pour on Nintendo Switch. The recent update is currently time exclusive to Nintendo. The few differences between the different platforms are purely based on aesthetics but are worth considering before you purchase.
The portability of the Switch allows players to get real cozy before settling in for a great story. Curl up on the couch, wrap yourself up in your cozy blanket, and lose yourself in the stunning visual novel filled with otherworldly wonder. The downside is the smaller screen limits the visual impact. It may not be a big deal most of the time, but there are bits of dialogue I completely missed on the Switch because it was small and printed in the same shade as the background.
Playing on the PC removes a little bit of the “atmosphere” with the game unless you have a super-sweet set-up. The game is still enjoyable, but I would be lying if I didn’t tell you how much location matters. Since this is such a strong narrative game with at least four hours in the bank, you want to make sure you are comfortable.
Is it suitable for kids? Not really. Language and themes push it into YA territory, and the nature of visual narrative would probably bore most kids. This is mellow central, with dark hipster vibes and LOTS of Aussie humor. Do we all talk like this? Well, you are more likely to hear Aussies talk like Maddy and the crew, rather than thinking we all walk around saying “Crikey!”
Necrobarista: Final Pour is available on Nintendo Switch. The original Necrobarista is available on Steam, GOG.com, and Apple Arcade. Evil Genius Mum received review copies of both versions for the purpose of writing about them with GeekMom; no other compensation was received. Check out more details on the official website here.
Score: 4 out of 5 strong cups of Melbourne Coffee (Chocolate on the side, please? Thanks!)