Review

Necrobarista Review – Tasty Coffee and Heartfelt Life Lessons

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Death is a complicated subject to discuss. The unknown is uncomfortable and people tend to avoid it. Necrobarista made me want to do the opposite; he explores the subject using a unique premise, ironic humor and fantastic writing to deliver heartfelt moments. Route 59 delivers a hopeful and poignant message about how we spend our time and honor our relationships, and the charming characters and their lightness keep the narrative from getting too heavy or overwhelming. Necrobarista is purely a visual novel, so you click through to the story without any agency to influence it. This format works well here; Necrobarista is full of memorable moments and striking characters, and much of it depends on how Route 59 constructs the world and its people. The story centers on a unique cafe where the dead can spend a last night with the living before they have to move to the afterlife. You have Maddy, the quick-witted cafe owner, a laid-back pun-loving soul named Chay, an overzealous engineering genius called Ashley, and the recently deceased Kishan who tries to come to terms with her demise. Although Maddy functions as the main protagonist, it really is an overall experience; the relationships between the characters, especially Maddy and Chay, who travel to an unexpected but beautiful place, are at the heart. The introduction is a little difficult, because you are just thrown into this world and forced to make sense of it. Things are explained very briefly or not at all, giving you only little clues and little conversations to decipher. Sometimes it felt like trying too hard to be cryptic and lean on its quirky nature with jokes and, instead of just revealing interesting sides of coffee. I almost gave up on the game, but I’m glad I stuck around, because once I saw more of the character interactions and found out how much the supernatural elements were tied to the story, I was absorbed. I won’t spoil anything, but it touches on the themes of life, loss, advancement, and acceptance, but without feeling preachy or predictable. The finish is satisfying and powerful, and it gave me pause for thought. While Necrobarista deals with serious topics and asks interesting questions about life, his greatest strength lies in his humor. The dialogue is interspersed with jokes that not only make you think, but also make you smile. Having a poignant line followed by a joke is his strong suit, like calling Axl Rose “an uplifting tale of those who would rather disappear than burn.” Part of the success of humor comes from the characters who all play out wonderfully. Ashley embarks on a mad crusade to build the perfect robot and orders the baffled Kishan to help her. Maddy tries to outsmart Chay, who would never give her satisfaction. I loved every main character, although some of the supporting characters show up and leave far too early with no time to turn into anything other than wasting time. Between chapters, you can explore the cafe in first person and read vignettes about the main characters and other patrons. Thumbnails are unlocked by selecting a series of words from a list linked to each chapter at its end. A keyword relates to a topic from the previous chapter such as “Maddy” or “Magic”, and you must have some to unlock specific thumbnails. You don’t know which subject they represent until you select them. I unlocked several of them in my game and found them to be very random. This is a small gripe as it’s not a big part of the game, but it’s an area where you feel like you have some control, and I hate that it comes down to a guessing game too. random. Necrobarista tells a meaningful story about the relationships and memories we create with the people around us. It’s heartwarming, poignant, and pulls the heartstrings in all the right ways. There are a few minor issues, but that’s not what stuck with me. Instead, I always think about the wisdom this game gives.

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