Coffee Talk by Indonesian developers Toge Productions is a slice of life game set in a similar but alternate reality. We first saw Coffee Talk two years ago when they won the Southeast Asian Games 2018 for Best in Storytelling.
In Coffee Talk, you play as the barista of a coffee shop in modern-day Seattle. But instead of just human customers, you’ll also be serving orcs, werewolves, vampires and other fantasy creatures. Learn more about your customers, make their drinks and listen to their day-to-day lives. Even though your customers may vary in appearance their problems are still very much human and relatable. A couple in a cross-species romance has disapproving parents. A mermaid has self-esteem issues. Help them or change their story not with your words but with what caffeinated beverages you choose to serve them.
Coffee Talk is a light, wholesome game with a simple premise and a surprisingly deep narrative. Your coffee shop is set in another world but it mimics the real-life situation that we’re facing today as a society. Every day when you open shop, you’re greeted with a newspaper headline that’s filled with social and political upheaval. This is reflected in the working-class citizens of the city. It’s easy to empathize with the people and creatures in the world created by Toge Productions.
While Coffee Talk is set as a ‘visual novel’ game, you don’t have any dialogue choices, just drink ones. Your customers will order a drink and you have a variety of ingredients in which you can choose to mix. Whatever you serve your customer they’ll drink it and depending on what you give them, it can affect their story. For example, a stressed-out customer is requesting more coffee, should you give them something more soothing instead? There’s no clear path for this game and it’s not always easy to interpret what a customer needs. But that’s part of the game’s charm and gives it a good amount of replayability.
In addition to making drinks for your customers, you also have a smartphone with four available apps, in-game. There’s the Tomodachil social media app that lets you see everything you’ve learned about your clientele. The Brewpad that has some coffee recipes. The newspaper app and of course the music app, where you can control the music. Quick shoutout to the excellent moody music in Coffee Talk.
The game development team Toge Productions is set in Indonesia where some of the best coffee in the world is grown. The country is one of the biggest exporters of coffee in the world and it’s no wonder that a game based on coffee culture would originate from there. Some of the drink orders reflective in the game are definitively local to the region and it’s great to see that culture is reflected in-game. Adding ginger or jahe in coffee or tea is fairly common (and delicious) in Southeast Asia. And other drinks such as STMJ (susu telur madu jahe) which is one made of milk, egg yolk, honey and ginger is native to Indonesia.
Coffee Talk is a short but sweet experience for those that want to relax into the narrative. It’s a great immersive game with beautiful pixel art, a fully-realised world and interesting, sincere characters.
Coffee Talk is out now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Windows PC (Steam).