Developer: Toge Productions
Publisher: Toge Productions
Music: Andrew Jeremy
Platforms: PC (Mac/Microsoft), PS4, Xbox One & Nintendo Switch
Released: 30th January 2020
Genre: Interactive Story, Adventure, Indie, Talking Simulator
Coffee Talk is a beautifully designed 2D pixel game where you play as a barista in a café seemingly only ever open at night called, “Coffee Talk.” As the barista you follow the lives of many individual’s who enter the café. Set in the rainy U.S. city of Seattle 2020 the world is a little different from the way we know it to be, most of the different characters you meet are either elves, orcs, vampires, human or something else entirely. Throughout this wonderfully written narrative you discover the reason for these supernatural elements, they help represent the ethnic differences in our world. This allows the developers to dive deep into heavy issues such as racial stereotypes, biases and other identities. By doing this in a fantasy environment, Toge Productions can showcase many different struggles people face and how they overcome adversity.
Essentially Coffee Talk enables chit chat both deep and light-hearted, which I guess, is exactly what you do when having a coffee with a friend. The most frequent customer of the café is Freya, a young journalist that writes short stories and reports for the local paper called, the Evening Whisperer. As the player you read this paper at the beginning of each new day, starting from the 22nd of September bringing new stories and new recipes to uncover.
This wonderfully chill talking simulator provides a very cruisy style of game play allowing the player to take it easy or explore the many simple and narrative relevant mechanics. As you are introduced to new or returning customers, they place an order where you are required to fill that bill. With a shelf displaying a variety of different ingredients ranging from Green Tea to Ginger you must create the most appropriate beverage for that customer. Coffee Talk is very forgiving if you get the order wrong the customer usually doesn’t mind or asks for you to try again.
As you progress through the game more ingredients and ways of making coffee are introduced to you. Nothing happens particularly fast in this game so there is minimal overwhelm when it comes to learning new things, this game is SUPER chill which is perfect to play on a rainy day indoors. One of the bigger challenges for me personally was Latte Art. I can’t say I was very good at it before Coffee Talk yet it’s such an ingenious feature. It can be tricky to get the hang of in the beginning but isn’t a crucial element of the game’s end goal however, you should still have a go.
Some other features that add to the atmosphere of a ‘chill late night café’ is the smart phone device you carry which holds different apps for you to access. They help you learn more about the customers you meet or assist you with making new types of drinks. There’s the Tomodachill which is basically the Facebook of the Coffee Talk universe, Brewpad which shows you a list of recipes and what drinks you have left to discover, as well as New Stories which is the Evening Whisperer app keeping you up to date with all the latest news. Another little feature that I personally love is the ability to auto-play the text dialog, there are large sections of just dialog and to be able to lie back on the couch and simply click a button to play through the text without having to smash ‘A’ all the time is a really nice touch. If by chance you aren’t using the auto-play feature there’s even a button to review all the dialog that’s gone by, just in case you’ve missed something.
Imagine café music. Now imagine 2bit arcade music. Now put them together. That’s pretty much what Andrew Jeremy has done with this super retro yet chill soundtrack. Every song has this soothing and lazy feel about it. His soundtrack makes reading loads of dialog feel like you are enjoying a good book on a lazy day. A really nifty feature to complement Andrew’s music is on your smart phone device in the game is an app called Shuffld which emulates a music streaming app playing all the different songs from the Coffee Talk Chill & Smile Soundtrack. You can pause, skip or select a specific song from this playlist at any time, making choosing that perfect rainy day café song so much easier.
The sound effects are just as gentle on the ear as the lounging café music. When making a coffee the soft hissing of the Barista Machine and the little clucks and clinks of the cups just add ever so nicely to the atmosphere. Overall the sound is a peaceful daydream.
Coffee Talk is this dreamy, warm, little place where you can listen to interesting stories, learn more about individual struggles and take it easy with a warm latte. Everything from the music to the simple phone apps help make this fantasy feel homey and cosy. The story is fascinating, with so many different characters to remember, it’s the right amount of chill on any rainy day. I highly recommend this game for anyone who likes to take it easy and is very narrative driven. Thanks, Toge Productions for such an intimate laidback indie gem.