Necrobarista is a visual novel with an anime art style. The story centralises around five characters, a coffee shop and the strangeness that occurs when you serve both the living and the dead! There is a constant mystery surrounding the experiment that you get a glimpse of at the beginning and this will drive your curiosity forward through the interesting world and characters of Necrobarista.
As this is a visual novel game you will be doing a lot of reading but there are some scenes where you walk around and interact with the surrounding world to uncover small side stories about the characters. The English version is not voice-acted, so prepare to read. This is more like a 3D comic book than an anime episode. As a side note, if you understand Chinese, playing that language version does apparently have a dub track.
Necrobarista uses 3D rendered models but the coloring has an anime cel-shaded style rather than a lot of textures. You really get a feel for the supernatural with a use of moody dark colours, splashes of neon lighting and eerie glows. The design of The Terminal is quite a lovely sight with a giant tree growing in the middle of the shop. As you progress, you will be able to access the different floors and rooms.
The script is smart and witty, without feeling like it strays too far from what a regular conversation sounds like. There’s some great little jokes that remind you this café is located in the inner city suburbs of Melbourne, Australia despite the story never really venturing outside of the shop itself.
The story revolves around a few characters and I will try to briefly introduce a few of them without spoiling too much.
Maddy, the newly appointed café owner is the most central character. Maddy is sassy but compassionate, which is immediately discernible from her interactions with a recently departed customer trying to come to grips with his current situation. As being a manager is new to her, it’s obvious she is stressed as she tries to keep track of all the new tasks while trying to find a solution for the debt problem The Terminal faces. She was taught magic by her mentor Chay.
Chay is the former owner of The Terminal and a Necromancer. He’s kind and observant and cares for everyone around him. Chay has lived for possibly hundreds of years. While he has handed over the café to Maddy, he still works there to help her out.
Ashley is an excitable teenager that’s probably drank way too much coffee and has a penchant for throwing knives. She’s brilliant and loves building battle robots. While not related to Maddy or Chay, she seems to look up to them like older siblings, causing just as much ruckus as a younger sibling would and hangs around the café a lot. While she loves to help with anything technical, requests for assistance with menial chores will be met with typical teenage groans.
I found myself really enjoying the interactions between the characters and there are a few others that you will meet and learn about, but I think they are best left for discovery in your own playthrough.
The music in Necrobarista is great at setting eerie moods in foreboding moments and then effortlessly switches gears to get those chill out café vibes. A perfect brew for a story about magic, mystery and coffee!
Overall, Necrobarista is a compelling story that I played through all in one sitting and can definitely recommend to fans of supernatural stories. The characters can be hilarious and endearing, with each of them having their own way of dealing with the issues of life and death that this tale presents. The anime artwork, lighting and framing of shots sets some beautiful picturesque scenes that will have you just sitting back for a moment to enjoy the view.
Necrobarista is available now for PC on GOG and Steam.
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