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The year is 207X, and in this post-dystopian future one can escape the tensions of Glitch City and find solace in small downtown bar VA-11 Hall-A. Or as the locals call it, Valhalla. VA-11 Hall-A is a cyberpunk bartending game developed by Sukeban Games where the only mechanic of driving the story is by how you prepare your patrons drinks.
The story follows Jill, a homebody bartender that has a love for beer. She meets a diverse cast of characters while working, from pop stars to assassins to sex robots, all with their own unique reasons for grabbing a drink. The game is set up like a visual novel, but instead of dialogue choices it branches out depending on the drinks you serve. Drinks are composed of the following:
- Adelhyde (makes ’em sweet)
- Bronson Extract (makes ’em bitter)
- Flanergide (makes ’em spicy)
- Powdered Delta (makes ’em sour)
- Karmotrine (alcoholic component)
Drink recipes consist of varying amounts of the 5 ingredients and can be served aged or with ice. In order to serve a drink, you simply drag ingredients into a shaker and shake or blend them together as desired. Sometimes a patron will be straight forward and order for example a big beer, which consists of double ingredients of a normal beer. Other times they may be vague or even cryptic with their order, and it’ll be up to the player to try and satisfy the customer. Some drinks let you add optional karmotrine, which gives you the freedom to make the drink more alcoholic and in turn get people drunk. Overall you want your customers happy, and you want them to keep buying. I mean, the game still requires you to pay bills.
Between working, you spend time in your apartment. Here you get to catch up on the latest news and spend some of that hard earned money. You’ll get to decorate your room with collectable toys and plants. Later on, you even get to change the design of the wallpaper and kotatsu to give your grey apartment some personality. It’s great to start customising your place as if you’re in Animal Crossing, but the game gives you a constant warning to keep money for the upcoming bills. This way you have incentive to try and do well while bartending. That means more money. Which means you can pay the electric bill and get that video game console you’ve been eyeing too.
Once you go into work for the day, you get to determine the music via a jukebox selection. This will set the mood during the story portions, and introduce a fantastic soundtrack. Part of the fun will be trying to create a perfect playlist. We recommend playing this game with the sound on, or with headphones.
VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action is a fantastic game that lets the player really dive into the characters and the fleshes out the often at times terrifying world in which they live in. Combing elements of visual novels and life simulators with a dash of mixology, the game creates a unique experience rarely found in the genres. We recommend loading up the jukebox and giving this game a spin.
TBG Score: 9/10
Platform: Steam, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 02/05/2019
No. of Players: 1
Category: Adventure, Simulation
Developer: Sukeban Games
Publisher: Ysbryd Games
Download link: eShop