Mixed Results — Coffee Time Review

Ever wonder what it would be like to own a small coffee shop that doubles as a late-night meetup in a fantasy world where orcs order cafe lattes?

In Coffee Time, you are the Barista, a faceless character serving drinks to regulars and the occasional extra-terrestrial looking for dating advice.

Coffee Time fits in the genre of a visual novel with intermittent spurts of activity where you fill someone’s order for a drink by choosing the ingredients. You don’t get to choose options for dialogue, and you’ll mostly rely on one or two buttons to continue the automatic conversations or fast-forward quickly through sections on a replay after you’ve beaten the game.

The stories are interesting, and there’s a certain level of comfort that I felt playing this game. To some, I was a confidante. To others, I was a fly on the wall listening to them talk about dating struggles, work problems, and family relationship issues. The scripting is solid, and besides the mysterious alien stranger whose story is actually quite relatable, everything seems relatively grounded. Though the game takes place in a fantasy-realm version of Seattle, the story has a sci-fi vibe where conflicts and situations are analogous to the things happening on our earth.

Take, for example, the multi-species relationship between the succubus Lua and the elf Baileys, which becomes a subject of conversation for the other characters who give their own opinions on the couple. Baileys family would rather he didn’t date outside his species and especially not with succubi. Though Baileys would be glad to be rid of his family, Lua feels a strong bond to hers and would not feel comfortable being with someone who would so readily sacrifice theirs.

The story goes deep enough to see the couple split and reconcile with a tidy and believable resolution. There’s humor, a bit of the mundane, and the overall arching plot of the writer Freya who chooses to break free from her freelance journalism work to write stories based on the happenings in your cafe.

And once you’re finished with the game, you’ll be treated to an epilogue that will change depending on how you followed their orders to a “tea.”

Everything happens to the tune of some very beautiful and chill lo-fi and jazz tunes by Aremy Jendrew. The highlight of the game, the music is the game’s heart and soul. It’s hypnotizing stuff that lulls you in and surrounds you with warmth. It’s coffee (or hot chocolate) for the ears, like the kind you drink after coming in from the cold or hanging out at a campfire when the last log’s been put on.

It’s the music that gives the stories that immersive feel. If you let it wash over you, you’ll feel like you’re sitting in a cafe, safe from the Seattle rain.

There’s a challenge mode where you can mix drinks in quick succession. With each correct drink, the timer goes up. As you complete more orders, the customers begin to order by taste — something a little sweet, a bit bitter, and very warm. You can try and mix ingredients, watching the taste meter change, or you can spend some time memorizing the various characteristics.

While Coffee Time is more of an experience, some gamers might wonder how it’s a game at all. After I finished the game completely, getting the best overall ending and finishing the challenge achievements, I deleted the game from my console.

But I can’t seem to shake that feeling of wanting to go where everybody knows your name.

Coffee Time (2020)
Genre: Visual Novel
Developed by: Toge Productions
Published by: Toge Productions and Chorus Worldwide
Platforms: PC, macOS, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, and Xbox One

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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