There’s not a lot most people can do after they’re dead, so long as they’re stuck waiting to be sorted into the good place or the bad place. But in Route 59’s Necrobarista, you can at least head to the coffee shop to get a cup of joe before you go. There’s a special café in the city of Melbourne, Australia, that serves both as a coffee house for the living and a meeting place where the dead can spend one final day. I had a chance to discuss the game with the developer at Tokyo Game Show 2017 to get some information one the game, coming soon. Listen to the full interview here.

The game takes its inspiration from a number of visual novels, but also goes a step further in adding its own unique twists. One of the great examples of this is how the story flows from one spot to the next. While most games are content with simply displaying a background, a few characters, and having them chat for a bit, there’s constant motion going on here. This is because Kevin Chen, the director, wanted to make a game that “uses the visual presentation of the game to tell the story just as much as the text does.”

In the segment playable on the show floor, two characters square off across a table to play a game of Five Finger Fillet, where players take a knife and stab the spaces between the fingers of their own splayed hand as quickly as possible. While the characters show off their bravado and, of course, during the actual event, the camera dives in and out of the space, showing off the action as it occurs but then switching to reveal the audience reaction. It’s an incredibly dynamic blend of cutscene and the visual novel.

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Much like how Danganronpa allows players moments to freely explore hallways and classrooms in between trial segments, the time between major plot points in the game allow players to move about a time-stopped room and discover more to the world. Items can be highlighted and checked to add more to the story, such as explaining a certain character’s background…or analyzing the uses of milk crates. Plenty of items have their own story to tell.

This leads into yet another interesting twist on the visual novel idea, in that Necrobarista takes its cues from the player in determining where the story should go. As the story progresses, certain key words can be highlighted and kept as “tags” which the game tracks. These tags are used to eventually determine what sort of scenes should come next, by filtering in scenes that are relevant to player interests, be it a location, character, item, or some combination. It makes for a truly tailored tale.

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Necrobarista will come to PCs in October, with a Nintendo Switch release date to be announced later. For more information, check out the official website.

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