REVIEW: ‘Necrobarista: Final Pour,’ is a Unique Take on Death (Switch)

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Necrobarista - But Why Tho

The concept of death is nothing new for video games, nor is it new in storytelling in general. The way Necrobarista: Final Pour manages to approach it, however, is truly unique. The Final Pour version from developer Route 59 Games is a director’s cut of the original game and features remastered visuals as well as added content.

Necrobarista: Final Pour is a visual novel, so don’t expect there to be any advanced game mechanics or challenges. Visual novels are about one very important thing; the story. Necrobarista: Final Pour is a tale about death, pure and simple. How we approach it, how it affects us and others, and just the reality of it. The interactions between the characters, and the tragedies that bind some of them, truly make this game stand out.

The story only contains a handful of characters, but each feel very unique and authentic. My two personal favorites are Chay and Maddy, who set themselves apart from the rest of the cast fairly early on. It’s not that I didn’t like the other characters, I really did, but the connection those two have is incredibly well-written and was enjoyable to experience. There are also several side characters that will pop in from time to time, and while none of them are nearly as important as the main cast I found them all to be fairly intriguing. There is some humor thrown in amongst the dark theme of death, which helps the story from feeling like a complete downer the entire time.

While the stories of each character vary, the overarching theme of death is present and real throughout. I found the way Necrobarista: Final Pour uses the idea of a coffee shop serving as a sort of “limbo” for the dead to be truly fascinating. Using coffee shops in what the developers describe as a “fantasy Melbourne, Australia” is such an odd way to approach the concept of death. I never thought hipster coffee shops could help me come to terms with my own mortality, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well it works.

Beyond good storytelling, the game itself just looks fantastic. It’s quite clear the developers were inspired by anime, and the way they honor the style while still presenting it in their own way is breathtaking at times. I also really loved how they subverted expectations for what a visual novel needs to look like. Most are simply 2D animations with text boxes throughout, but Necrobarista: Final Pour uses 3D animation with animated scenes and speech to keep the presentation fresh. I do love the standard visual novel look and approach, but this fresh take on the genre was really exciting and has me wanting to see more games follow suit. The animation also helps the reality of the concept of death feel so much more impactful, bringing the characters to life through more than just the text on the screen.

The game looks beautiful, and it sounds beautiful as well. I have developed a bit of a reputation for caring about game soundtracks more than the average person should, but a good soundtrack can really make a good game great. The soundtrack for Necrobarista: Final Pour, composed by Jeremy Lim and Kevin Penkin, is so good I’ve had it playing on repeat on Spotify. The music really brought the atmosphere of a fantasy Melbourne to life and helped add to the gravity and emotion of the story.

While there is plenty to love about Necrobarista: Final Pour, I can’t say there aren’t any flaws. Well, maybe not flaws, but things that might have made the experience feel a bit more unique and complete. I would have really liked it if the characters were voice acted, and while I know that not all visual novels have voice acting, most don’t have full animation either. The addition of voice acting, while I understand why it isn’t there, would have helped the game reach the next level. It’s not a very long experience, so the more immersive it can feel the better. I also really don’t like the concept of collecting tokens to unlock extra story content. It’s a visual novel with little “gameplay”, and the addition of an almost treasure hunt to unlock more story content just felt out of place to me.

As a visual novel, Necrobarista: Final Pour works hard to try to set itself apart from the genre. At times it does a really fantastic job, and even the negative aspects aren’t nearly enough to stop me from recommending the game to visual novel fans. Necrobarista: Final Pour is a unique take on a common theme, as well as a fresh approach to a genre that can feel a tad paint-by-numbers at times. I absolutely enjoyed every second of my time in Melbourne, and the way it made me think about death and my own mortality was truly fascinating.

Necrobarista: Final Pour is out now on the Nintendo Switch.

Necrobarista: Final Pour
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

As a visual novel, Necrobarista: Final Pour works hard to try to set itself apart from the genre. At times it does a really fantastic job, and even the negative aspects aren’t nearly enough to stop me from recommending the game to visual novel fans. Necrobarista: Final Pour is a unique take on a common theme, as well as a fresh approach to a genre that can feel a tad paint-by-numbers at times. I absolutely enjoyed every second of my time in Melbourne, and the way it made me think about death and my own mortality was truly fascinating.