Necrobarista: Final Pour Review: Moving On
If you only had 24 hours left on this planet, what would you use it for? Would you want to make a final difference in the world? Do something for your loved ones? If Necrobarista: Final Pour is right, many people spend it hanging around an adorable coffee shop. Considering how charming the employees are, I can hardly blame them.
A visual novel, Necrobarista tells the tale of The Terminal. A coffee shop in Melbourne, Australia, The Terminal serves both the living and the dead. Apparently, once you die, your soul lingers a bit and is drawn to certain locations. Like The Terminal. They’re glad to have you hang around for 24 hours, wrapping your head around your fate, but then you have to move on. Failing to do so risks damage to your soul, and the shop’s credit.
A Story Worth Your Time
A charming cast fills out The Terminal. Maddy is the owner and barista of the shop, full of cynicism and caffeine. Chay is the former owner and Maddy’s mentor. He knows more about coffee and necromancy than most people could ever process in a lifetime. Ashley is their brilliant teenage assistant who has a real love of knives. They work together to keep the caffeine flowing and help customers accept their fate.
For those whose visual novel experience consists mostly of Phoenix Wright and Danganronpa, fair warning, there isn’t much in the way of gameplay here. You aren’t even really making choices. You’re watching a story unfold. These characters’ fates are already set in stone before the game starts. You get to join them for the ride.
It’s quite a ride too. When a new spirit shows up in the shop, it just seems like another evening. While the characters are desperate to hide it, things are a little out of the ordinary, though, even for The Terminal.
A Different World
Bringing in an audience surrogate is smart. The new soul who joins the group has personality, but he’s also a great excuse for the characters to say a lot of expository stuff about this waypoint to whatever comes next, which would otherwise be unnecessary. Necrobarista throws a few more characters at you throughout its four or so hours, but the three staff, your surrogate, and one real-life outlaw turned afterlife enforcer make up the emotional heart of the story. I don’t want to go too deep into the story for fear of spoiling things, but once it got its hooks in me, I was on the edge of my seat until the end.
If I have any complaints about the story here, I would have loved to see a further commitment to coffee culture. As into their caffeine as all of these characters are, and as much pride as they seem to take in what they do, it feels strange that making coffee never gets more focus. It didn’t need to go as far as something like Coffee Talk, but a bit more would have been nice.
Between chapters of the story, you’ll be able to wander The Terminal in the first-person. Little stories about the cast and others who have passed through The Terminal are all around. These little short stories are wonderful, further enriching this world. None grabbed me quite as strongly as the main narrative, but I wanted to find them all.
While the stories are worth finding, however, I would have preferred another method of delivery. There’s nothing really to do in these sections, making The Terminal feel a little less magical. Opening doors into different areas takes forever, and I had the game glitch out and crash on me several times. Frequent saves made this not a huge issue, but these sections are fairly clunky.
New additions for the Final Pour release also aren’t a lot to write home about. The updated visuals look great, creating a real sense of mood throughout the game. Doodle mode lets you draw faces on Ashley’s robotic creations and is cute, but I was surprised at how bare bones it is. Studio mode lets you create your own scenes and, in theory, sounds great. I loved these characters, and being able to make more stories for them sounds wonderful. The interface is not well suited to the Switch, though, and several times things locked up here as well. Resetting the game isn’t the end of the world, but I would have been upset if I were deep into creating something. The tools here are thorough and might work better on PC, but it seems like more trouble than it’s worth on the Switch.
Several DLC additions to the original game are included here as well and are well worth playing. Unfortunately, they again aren’t quite up to the quality of the main story, but few stories in gaming are.
Necrobarista: Final Pour provides a moving story about death, life, and how to move on. The short first-person chunks between chapters could be better, and I wish the Switch version were more stable, but the story is the reason to buy this one, and it’s excellent. With charming characters and a great sense of style, Necrobarista is worth your time whether you’re living or in the process of moving on.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: Switch (Reviewed); Publisher: Coconut Island Games; Developer: Route 59; Players: 1; Released: August 11th, 2021; ESRB: M for Mature; MSRP: $21.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a copy of Necrobarista: Final Pour provided by the publisher.