Tis the time of the season where lists are being made, arguments are had, and I look at my backlog and say “why haven’t I played that yet?!” Two relatively short experience that I was able to knock out fairly quickly from that list were Neversong and Coffee talk, which are two indie games from earlier this year.
I want to begin with Coffee talk, because it’s the one that its easiest to speak about. This is basically a visual novel where at times you make drinks for the characters of that novel; sometimes the drinks you make are choices for the story and there’s a basic puzzle element to them (mostly trial and error), however if that sounds interesting to you, then this is an easy recommend. Its about owning a café that operates after midnight, where customers of all backgrounds with all sorts of problems come to hang out and not care about the barista that is eavesdropping. The setting is actually the most interesting part; this is a world where humans, orcs, vampires, wolfmen, and other mythological creatures exist together, but not in harmony. Its not a novel concept obviously, but it is well executed by the writing and overall story, even though there are occasional moments of weirdness in the writing itself; that barista portion is also pretty fun as a puzzle. Customers will tell you the name of what they want or describe what it tastes like and you have to make it with a combination of the ingredients you have; something cool, for example, will have milk in it, which also allows the player to make latte art for that drink, which is surprisingly responsive and accurate. Obviously, it is a well-made game, but it is also lacking in something to make it stand out from its peers. I like the art-style a lot, but beyond that I can’t tell you something this game does that is beyond “fair” or “decent”, but it is also worth noting I was not frustrated or disappointed with it; for fans of the genre, its worth getting to it…eventually.
Unfortunately, Neversong does not fare as well; at times it is a charming and inoffensive action-platformer, but it has too many frustrating moments for me. Like many indie games this year, Neversong is sort of a dark fairy tale; interestingly, it is a sequel/prequel to a viral flash game that is 10 years in the making (I only learned this after finishing the game and forming an opinion already). This doesn’t change anything; however, it has been a long time coming for the game and I did not like it. It has some cool ideas like metroidvania style progression, a good mix of action, platforming, and puzzles to create a good pace, a great visual style with the dark fairy tale aesthetic to create an emotional experience. All of that are in there, in one way or the other, but they don’t feel particularly well to execute or there’s nothing more to them, making the game feel like something you’ve played before, but executed worst in most regards. It really stinks as well, because there are some great moments in the game that give you a glimpse of what could have been, like the metroidvania progression, which gives you a new power to explore in a previously inaccessible area and works for the narrative as well; however, the actual power ups are often disappointing and anticlimactic like a skateboard that works on a specific floor type and basically works only for downhill ramps. Overall, it’s a frustrating experience both in mechanics and feel, however I still like the gothic look of the game and horror vibes from the story and atmosphere, not nearly enough to tell you to keep an eye out for it though.
Thankfully, some of the other games I caught up on where good enough to talk about in a longer format, so those will be their own thing; there are still many 2020 games in my backlog, so this probably won’t be the last article of this style for 2020. I do hope for those games I have something more exciting and positive to say though.