Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
If you’ve ever wondered what the life of an amateur necromancer and Australian coffee brewer is like, look no further than Necrobarista. A visual novel type story about magic, ghosts, tachikoma inspired robots, and coffee, Necrobarista has an interesting premise, beautiful graphics and soundtrack, and an interesting story premise, but ends much too soon.
Necrobarista is a visual novel style experience telling the tale of The Terminal, a hipster coffee shop in Melbourne Australia, where the dead come to spend 24 hours before needing to pass on. Here we get a glimpse into the lives, and afterlives, of those associated with The Terminal. For employees, we have Chay, the old man and previous owner, Maddie, the younger new owner and amateur necromancer (also good with knives), and Ashley, the young genius with a robot arm and a scary propensity to throw knives when startled. We are also introduced to Kishan, a recently departed who finds himself at The Terminal, shortly before Ned, a representative from the Council of Death shows up. We learn about the cafe, the people who work there, and a bit about moving on with your life in the face of death.
Necrobarista is a visual novel that involves mostly just reading text, as well as watching some 3D animated scenes here and there, so there isn’t too much to that. You do have the opportunity to walk around The Terminal between story portions, and you can unlock little tidbits and stories of other characters at locations around the cafe. To unlock those, while going through the main story, there will be words you can click on to give usually cheeky definitions. At the end of the segment, you can select words, which will give you icons associated to an idea. Non-main story related segments require three icons from specific ideas, which will then unlock the story to read as pure text.
While there isn’t much in “gameplay”, the graphics and soundtrack are definitely top end. The characters were mostly all interesting, except Kishan, but their character models and animations were done REALLY well. Especially Maddie, the younger coffee shop owner and amateur necromancer, had a really cool design that I loved. The Terminal is also well furnished, with multiple areas you can explore as you keep progressing through the story.
And the soundtrack, man, the soundtrack was really good too. It was atmospheric and thematically appropriate, it wasn’t obtrusive while reading, but still lent a sense of ambience to the story. I’ll be perfectly honest when I say that Necrobarista was WAY shorter than I’d have liked. But despite feeling like they were running out of time or budget and needed to wrap things up, the soundtrack and graphics were absolutely great. And the “Tachikoma” style chats after each story segment? Gah, that hit me right in the nostalgia thinking about Ghost in the Shell.
Now, unfortunately, despite the really interesting cast, great graphics, and stellar soundboard, Necrobarista falls flat in a few unfortunate ways. I mean, it was way too short. I finished Necrobarista and felt like there was so much I just…missed, I guess. I mean, there were some characters that were introduced for all of about 2 minutes, and then promptly never spoken about again, without any warning whatsoever. It was a little disappointing.
In conjunction with that, there are a bunch of aspects about the characters that are never really explored. For instance, I have no idea how Ashley got her robot arm. Maybe that’s in a bonus story, but I either didn’t find the location, or just didn’t have enough icons to unlock it while playing. Add to that the game feels like you got the beginning and end, but left out a large chunk of the middle, and you’re left with a disappointed feeling. What was there was good though.
Another issue that may crop up for readers/players is that a lot of the quirky definitions and explanations are very Millenial in nature. For me personally, I had a good laugh at some of these, learned some Australian pop culture and history factors, and rather appreciated some them. On the other hand, you will probably immediately be able to tell what generation a reviewer is from based on how they feel about the “Millenial topics”. So if you’re a little older, in the Boomer bracket for instance, just be aware of this fact.
Overall, Necrobarista is something I desperately wanted to enjoy much more than I did. The graphics were great, the animations well done, the soundtrack was lovely, and most of the characters were great, but the story just felt way too choppy, like someone ripped a bunch of pages out of the middle of a book. Yeah, it’s still readable, and yes you can still understand what’s going on, but it certainly doesn’t feel complete. If anything, I’d wait until this goes on sale to pick up, because you’ll pretty much be left just wanting more by the end, which isn’t something I can justify picking up for a full novel experience. That being said, what was there was excellent, it just needs a bit more…fleshing out (necromancy puns, heh).Score: 8 / 10