Last month at Pax West in Seattle I had the pleasure of sitting down with Route 59’s Justin Kuiper, writer behind their upcoming PC and Switch title Necrobarista. The game is a visual novel set in a “supernatural café where the living come to mingle with the dead.” The team is set in Melbourne, Australia, and they are taking their visual novel to a level that most developers do not by making it a 3D world with optional point and click exploration, which you can use to gain more insight on the characters and world.
According to Justin, the concept and gameplay came before the storyline did. They wanted to make an immersive three dimensional visual novel like gamers have not seen before. The drive behind the story was simply that they wanted to tell the stories that could come out of a café in which the dead are given the chance to live for awhile longer. The overall idea is interesting, and once you actually get in the game you are captivated almost instantly by the mysterious barista Maddy and the shady characters around her. I was left wanting to know more about her and why she is making deals with the dead in the basement of a café, and I still think about where the story will go often. Needless to say, Necrobarista is a title that I am very eager to play when it releases.
While I spoke with Justin, he placed a lot of emphasis on how “games are good at providing atmosphere,” and that Route 59 is very specific about the setting of Necrobarista. I had to agree with him because it is difficult to become deeply involved in a game with shallow settings and poor atmosphere. Look at titles like Silent Hill, Dead Space, or Fallout. The atmosphere sets the story, and gets the player captivated in integrated into that game’s world. There is no mystery in a world that cannot provide a lingering sense of the unknown. Though Necrobarista is not a “horror” title, even after being told by Justin that is not a scary game I could not help but feel on edge but I did not know what this world was all about, or why the café had such an eerie and important feel to it. And this most certainly was not a bad thing because it meant that the developers are doing exactly what they are promising- providing atmosphere.
I played Necrobarista on a laptop while at Route 59’s booth, but I am eager for the Nintendo Switch release because I truly enjoy titles that allow me to just lie back and push a couple of buttons while a story plays out before me. It is like watching a film or reading a book, but visual novels allow for a unique sense of involvement. We see a lot of visual novel style games in Japan, so it is always exciting to see a western developer dive into the genre. Necrobarista has four core team members working on its production, and their passion and devotion shows in the game, even while just playing a demo.
Will you be playing Necrobarista, and will it be your first time trying the visual novel genre? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook, and don’t forget to follow us on both for more news regarding this title, and be on the lookout for our review next year!
Necrobarista hits PC and the Nintendo Switch early 2018.