Necrobarista Review

Coffee and a corpse

When you die, that’s it. Your physical being ceases to work, and your spirit moves on to Heaven, or Hell, or The Great Beyond, or whatever you may believe in. Death may come quickly, or you may see it coming, but it eventually comes for us all. But what if you had a little time to actually come to terms with being dead before moving onto the other side? What would you do with that extra time, and how would you come to terms with letting go?

In the world of Necrobarista, the dead are given 24 hours to cope with becoming the recently departed. A day to make peace with the lives they’ve lived, and to let their spirits move on. The Terminal is one of the few places a spirit can come when moving between their lives and the afterlife, a place to grab a coffee or a drink and contemplate or reflect, to mingle one last time with the living. 

This visual novel only lasts a few hours, but it gives the player a lot to reflect on–namely, the concepts of grieving and letting go. The themes aren’t terribly surprising given Necrobarista’s premise, but without getting into spoilers, the story goes in a different direction than the player might expect. The twist works to the narrative’s advantage, making for a more intimate plot than players are first lead to believe. 

Not just a pretty face

As it turns out, Necrobarista is also very stylish. While you can’t move around or do anything other than advance the dialogue in the main story, the 3D nature of the title allows for dynamic scenes that make the game feel more alive. Visual novels tend to have 2D talking portraits over static backgrounds, which doesn’t always properly portray the story’s setting and often dampens dramatic scenes. Seeing the characters move about the cafe really make them and the story Necrobarista is telling that much more interesting.

Necrobarista is a kinetic visual novel–that is, you can’t make any choices, and there’s only one ending. Almost like a metaphor of death itself, something that is inevitable and cannot be changed. However, Necrobarista a bit of gameplay between the chapters to spice things up a bit. After each chapter, you’re able to explore parts of The Terminal and potentially unlocking Memories, side-stories that generally don’t need to be read to complete the game.

These stories aren’t automatically unlocked, though. You need to have points in the correct category to unlock these tales. These points are accumulated by selecting keywords, highlighted yellow, at the end of the chapter. Only seven words can be picked each chapter, and there are always more than seven to choose from, so you’re simply not going to be able to see all of the side-stories before beating the game.

Memories are confusing

Thankfully, after seeing the epilogue and returning to The Terminal, you’ll have enough points in every category to see the remaining Memories. But, this brought up the only major issue I had with Necrobarista. Memories are triggered by finding and clicking on the object in The Terminal, and most of the side-stories come in multiple parts, so you can’t find the object until you finish the previous story.

After a while, though, I had difficulty finding the final Memories. Because objects aren’t really marked, you need to really scour the surroundings for the triggers. But, I began getting motion sick, as the first-person perspective wasn’t really built for an extended walking session without breaks to read and watch the story unfold. If either object were highlighted in some way before being found, or the UI was a little more refined, this wouldn’t be an issue, but unless an issue is updated, those that are susceptible to motion sickness beware!

But thankfully, walking around The Terminal a lot is not required to see the main plot to its conclusion, which is the star of the game. So don’t let what is ultimately an inconvenience keep you away from Necrobarista. This is a visual novel worth your time, not that it’ll ask for much of it in the first place.

[Reviewed on PC]