In Coffee Talk, you are the owner of an all-night coffee shop in an alternate world Seattle, where all different fantasy races live together in not-quite-harmony. The only gameplay mechanic is mixing up drinks from the choice of ingredients (and adding latte art, if you like), discovering hidden recipes and delighting, or disappointing, your customers. The rest of the time, the game is a visual novel, as you interact with and eavesdrop on your customers and the problems that drive them to a coffee shop in the middle of the night.
Your most regular customer is Freya, a burnt-out human writer desperately looking for inspiration after taking on more work than she can handle. You’ll also meet a whole range of other regulars, including a young popstar and her father who struggle to connect after her mother’s death, an elf and a succubus struggling with their families’ disapproval of their relationship, and a shy mermaid who lacks the confidence she needs to pursue her computer-game-designing dreams. Perhaps strangely for a visual novel, you get no input in what you actually say to any of these people. All you can do is listen to them, and make them drinks when they request them. Sometimes, this means remembering things you’ve learned about them, or making guesses about what they really need. Through hot drinks, you can support them and even occasionally guide them, as a month in their lives plays out before your counter.
Coffee Talk is about as low-key as a game can possibly be. And sometimes you need that. It’s a game to play curled up on the sofa with a blanket and a hot drink of your own, letting your own stresses gently melt away. Playing it isn’t going to change your world, but it will offer you a calming few hours, and that’s important too. Coffee Talk is currently available on PC/Mac and Switch, along with a free demo, and on Xbox and Playstation without the demo. I played it on Switch.