An expanded director’s cut on its original release Necrobarista. Necrobarista: Final Pour inspires death, coffee and the afterlife. The Finger Guns Review;
First of all, a disclaimer is needed. This is my first rodeo… in visual novels. Hence the title. There may be things you think, “Kat, that is in every visual novel”, and that is fine. You can strike me for that, but with no expectations and no comparisons, here is my deep dive into a first look at the genre.
Necrobarista follows the interesting story concept of being dead and spending your final hours before you pass on to unknown in a coffee shop that serves pretty much whatever you like. But mostly bad coffee and strong alcohol (with the occasional swirly straw!). The world in which you reside is different from the world you know now. There is magic, necromancy and even a government, known as the council, who have their own rules when it comes to grinding beans and kicking back.
The game opens with a cut scene that explains the rules of ‘The Terminal’; the coffee shop in which you enter. Don’t ask who’s alive, don’t feed monsters and if you are dead, you have to leave once you have been there for 24 hours. Your view in these modes is as if you, the player has died. After cutscenes, you will watch the story unfold before your eyes.
It is difficult to explain a visual novel game without giving the whole gig up, so this’ll have to be brief, but I promise to keep it mostly spoiler-free! The visual novel follows the characters of Maddy, Chay, Kishan and others in their path to serve coffee to the undead and make sure they leave before their 24 hours is up. Maddy is a bit of softy and has unfortunately got herself into a bit of trouble, allowing those who need to pass on to stay. The council are now involved, and Maddy has to juggle owning a new cafe, and thinking of ways she can repay her debt.
You’ll meet Krishan, a recently passed chap who is coming to terms with his time left in his world. He almost mirrors the player in curiosity, acting as your guide from what to really expect from the world inside and out of the Terminal.
The main story gameplay mainly revolves around Krishan’s time in the Terminal and you are able to see how his presence interacts with the others who remain in the Terminal for good such as Maddy, the owner.
The style certainly is influenced by Japanese anime visuals. The Final Pour promises updated visuals, and although I am unable to speak on the previous release, the visuals have a lot of depth, colour and contrast that bring your attention to the whole screen and not just front and centre.
As the story unfolds before your eyes, a cool interactive addition unfolds in the dialogue. The game has its own glossary word vault of sorts, and you are able to interact with certain words in the script. These will reveal ‘definitions’ which is more often than not that characters own definition, explanation or inner thoughts about the meaning of what they are trying to convey.
Necrobarista: Final Pour is not a game. It is not gameplay heavy and is exactly what it says on the tin. Some may expect additional things to do, and while there are some additional modes outside of the initial storytelling through first-person perspective. There is no choice or freedom as a player. This may be common with visual novels, but I did expect something more to do than to press ‘A’ for 97% of the game, Maybe even some dialogue choice? I am also very fine with just watching the story unfold how they want it told, but a mini-game, or something to pick up occasionally wouldn’t have gone amiss to hold my attention.
Once you’ve finished a main story episode, perspective moves to that of first-person. Here you are able to explore your surroundings. There are aspects in your environment which will unlock hidden memories of the café from the past, allowing you to burrow deeper into the personalities and history of characters or tales of patrons. This is fun to begin with and with each episode unlocks a new area to explore, but that is where it ends. It can feel a bit laborious near the end. Other than a point on click on memories, there isn’t much to do in the café itself.
By talking to different characters you are able to unlock certain modes. Studio mode allows the player to create different storyboards with current characters and add dialogue. Whilst Doodle mode is exactly that; drawing or doodling cute faces onto robots.
I wouldn’t know too much about these modes, because most frustratingly, my Switch couldn’t handle them. The game did meet me with a lot of hard crashes. Considering it is supposed to be a director’s cut it is strange for this to happen and this is not something that happened infrequently. I can count on the top of my head multiple resets I had to do, which was frustrating. Luckily, the game does autosave frequently. I found myself not wanting to go back into those modes and truly appreciate its detail, especially in studio mode. This also would happen sometimes between episodes when exploring the cafe, so it rushed me through to continue the main story at times.
Additionally, the load times in places were quite long, this is understandable when it is a very visually pleasing game with cut scenes. However, the game doesn’t have heavy duty mechanisms that require minutes worth of load times. Sometimes it would take away from the emotive or tense scenes from the game.
The story itself is captivating and kept me interested throughout. I was excited to explore the two side stories that came with the game just to get more of the story. It was also exciting reading all the memories dotted around between the cut scenes. These are vast and do not just scope the main characters, they can either add to the main story itself for context or they may be completely unrelated. There is tongue-in-cheek humour, sass but also emotions such as fear and acceptance that is demonstrated well through words.
Each character has their own uniqueness, and as there is no voice acting so you can decide from how you read the script what they may sound like. Some people may see that as a negative, but I really liked this element and it kept me involved instead of just putting it down, pressing A, and letting the story roll like an audiobook.
Overall the game can clock in at a fair few hours to keep you entertained long enough. It is a game that could go in many directions and I never really guessed what was around the corner with the end of each episode. Should a series or film ever be made it would certainly be something I would dive into.
If you can get through the crashes and technical hitches, Necrobarista: Final Pour suits the Switch well. It is a beautiful appealing visual novel about one last night before death takes you to pass on. You don’t play the game, you watch the story unfold. The characters are individual with clear meaning within the story. The story has an interesting concept that could be taken in any direction.
Necrobarista: Final Pour is available now on Nintendo Switch (review platform) and Steam.
Developer: Coconut Island Games
Publisher: Coconut Island Games
Disclaimer: In order to complete this preview, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.
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