I’m sure the idea of owning and running your own cafe has crossed most of our minds, but rather than taking the financial risk, it may be easier to just sit back with Toge Production’s Coffee Talk. Taking place in a modern fantasy world that is inhabited with Elves, Orcs and more, Coffee Talk is a visual novel/talking simulator that has you interacting with your customers and listening to their woes and concerns whilst you brew them a hot drink. Fire up the machine and get that milk frothing, it’s time to talk coffee.
Coffee Talk’s primary portion of gameplay is making customers the correct drinks. Sometimes, they order very specific drinks, to the point where I didn’t know how to make them (click here for our Drinks Guide). You can only trash five drinks per night so if you’re lost as to how to make it and run out of discards, well you’d better be a good guesser when it comes to making drinks by name alone. This adds a slight challenge of the game as although it is a visual novel, it still presents you with those obstacles in order to make the game more engaging.
When you serve customers the correct order, it will increase your friendship with them, allowing you to learn more about the people you’re serving. As you start, you are provided with five drink recipes. As you make more, the game will save them. We have found issues of the recipes not being saved upon making them correctly, which appears to be a slight glitch that I cannot imagine the developers would leave unpatched.
The visual novel side of the game can be off-putting to some as they tend to lack gameplay options. However, Coffee Talk provides the player with a sense of purpose, rather than simply pressing the A button to read more dialogue. You also have the option to have the dialogue on auto, which for a visual novel game is a nice touch to have because sometimes I just wanted to sit back and watch as the characters interacted with each other. You can also fast forward through conversations if you are replaying a day and want to see how correcting a customer’s coffee order can change the outcome of a scenario.
A nice little touch to the drink making is you are able to create latte art, creating a fun aspect to brewing frothier drinks. I did however realise how bad I was at creating latte art quite quickly so I only used this feature a handful of times. The only issue with this was that the cursor that you use to draw is white and when you use it on the white milk, you can’t always see it, confusing the player and often ruining the beautiful designs you’re making… well that was my excuse anyway.
The load times between each day is relatively quick and doesn’t noticeably interrupt the flow of the game. Each load screen features a drink that you are able to make in game, which is a nice little touch.
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Coffee Talk can be played in touchscreen mode where a cursor (as it would be played on PC) appears, so don’t stress if your Joy-Cons start drifting as you’ll still be able to fully enjoy the game. In regards to rumble, it went off when a character’s phone rang. Just Rumble, not HD Rumble, but this didn’t change the gameplay that much.
Coffee Talk delves into socio-political aspects of modern life. You’ll often hear about racial discrimination due to the game’s fantasy races, being an analogy for what we experience in the real world even to this day. There was a vegan vampire, a werewolf war veteran and many other interesting characters that each made their own impact. It’s an interesting concept that can be a little on the nose at times, but that’s part of the charm.
Often when listening to conversations, you feel like a third wheel, but not in an intrusive way. You’ll find that your character takes to a cliche role of the bartender (or in the case, barista), acting as a therapist and being privy to intimate details of a customer’s life.
As a nice added bonus, there is a column section that’s referred to as The Evening Whisper Stories. These are written by Freya, a character who is a regular patron of your coffee shop. This segment is filled with short stories and articles that are engaging and thought-provoking, serving to be a pleasant side activity when you want to take a break from the main game. They’re entirely optional, meaning that they are not required to progress through the main story, however it’s a nice little addition nonetheless.
Graphics / Art Direction
The game’s art style is very clean with a 2D visual novel approach. Your main point of focus is on the customers that come into your cafe, but there are some nice details that happen in the background, such as mounted decor and those passing by outside. However as the entirety of the game is set in the one cafe, this does prevent the game from having much variety.
Each character has great facial animations, making them feel alive and willing to interact with you, even if they can feel repetitive at times. Some visual novels can grow stale in their two dimensional approach (both in graphical and depth), but Coffee Talk does a great job at avoiding this common pitfall.
Music / Sound Design
Coffee Talk has 23 songs that you can shuffle between, which generally sound similar, aiming more for background ambience within the coffee shop. They don’t have lyrics that would distract you from the dialogue, nor does it aim to be intrusive, rather it sets a mellow tone to be enjoyed with the pace of the game.
The general background noise is very engaging, also. When it is raining outside, the sound of rain drops can be heard to compliment the music, setting a calming tone that certainly fits the bill. Also, you know when a customer walks into the shop when the door bell rings – it’s the small details that add to its personality.
Final Score: 87%
Coffee Talk is a calm and engaging experience, certainly one to sit down with at the end of a long day. It doesn’t demand too much from you, rather it is there to listen and to be taken at your own pace. What with all the frantic hubbub of the real world, a game like Coffee Talk is sometimes exactly what we need.
Thank you for checking out our Coffee Talk Switch review, thank you Toge Productions for providing us with the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support:
- Andrew Caluzzi (Inca Studios / Camped Out!)
- Belinda Cubitt