The GWJ Adventure Game Club - Game 35: VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action

VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action (2016)

IMAGE(https://cdn.akamai.steamstatic.com/steam/apps/447530/header.jpg)

An indie bartender simulation with visual novel elements, developed by Venezuelan studio Sukeban Games and published by Ysbryd Games, Va11halla has you embody the eponymous bartender in a small bar in a dystopian downtown. The nonlinear plot is influenced by the drinks you make and characters' reactions to them!
You can find the game's official website here, usual spoiler warning apply. How Long to Beat estimates about 11 hours to completion. Available platforms are Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4.

The main thread is over that way. We'll be playing VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action in September 2021, with an extra month for stragglers (yours truly included).

11 hours! That's definitely more than I expected, but I'm looking forward to it!

The premise reminds me of The Red Strings Club to an extent.

EDIT: Ok, wow. I thought I've owned this forever, but apparently it's only been languishing on my wishlist. Time to remedy that.

Cool! I started playing this game a while ago and for some reason it did not click with me. I'll give it another shot.

Looks like there isn't any voice acting in this one, so I might just pick it up and play it on my laptop on my own time (non stream time, ie, gaming in bed when I'm too tired to stream). Looking forward to it!

Somehow it's still August so I'm a little early I guess. Fired it up last night and had a little spike of instant dislike, but it wore off quickly as I clocked the time 30 minutes later and was quite contentedly digging in. Like Red Strings Club, this is the kind of game that I know is going to feel best when played until 1 or 2 am...definitely going to have to watch myself there.

It seems from the get-go that they're delving into subject matter that quickly enters potentially problematic territory, not sure what to expect there but I don't recall hearing about any controversies so hopefully it's handled well.

So I did some digging and apparently, there are some controversies around the character of Dorothy. The dev/writer addressed some of the concerns here. Obviously, spoilers ahead. And below on the nature of said controversy.

Spoiler:

Apparently, she’s an “underage seeming sex worker” (beat way I can put it, I guess).

I am SO EXCITED to watch/listen to people play this. IMAGE(https://emojipedia-us.s3.dualstack.us-west-1.amazonaws.com/thumbs/240/emojipedia/132/grinning-face-with-star-eyes_1f929.png) It’s one of my all-time favorites from the Vita era and is one of only two platinum trophies I have. IMAGE(https://emojipedia-us.s3.dualstack.us-west-1.amazonaws.com/thumbs/240/apple/285/trophy_1f3c6.png)

Re: Dorothy

Spoiler:

She’s written so well, as per the explanation posted. Some may still have trouble with her, and that’s ok.

It has such a wonderful cast of characters I cannot wait to hear other’s thoughts about. IMAGE(https://emojipedia-us.s3.dualstack.us-west-1.amazonaws.com/thumbs/240/apple/285/smiling-face-with-smiling-eyes_1f60a.png)

Thank you for your input. I’ve read it and I’m gonna keep an open mind going in.

I can’t wait to read what’s in those spoilers tags. I’m enjoying the story enough that I don’t want to know until it’s over.

This is like a visual novel created on 1990 pc hardware.

I’m in the middle of day 5. How far has everyone gotten?

Just an hour into the game so far, I'll play more over the weekend, I might even make myself a cocktail to go with it.

I'm a couple of hours in maybe? I think I finished day 2. I've since been mostly consumed by Hades, but I do want to get back to this. Definitely going with that cocktail idea.

I'm at the end of day 3. So far, I'd say that all the art in the game is great, the gameplay is mildly annoying (is there a better way of adding 8 parts of an ingredient than dragging and dropping eight times in a row?), and the writing is all over the place. Some parts are good and fun, others are a bit cringy. I'm still interested to find out where it's going.

As an aside, it was interesting to find out the game was made by a group of Venezuelan expats.

Considering it's 9/30, that I still haven't finished the game, and that I have so many other games drawing my attention including our next club game, I don't think I'll be finishing this... for the second time.

The game started feeling... not great. I think in the end the writing just didn't keep me interested after 5 or 6 days. I didn't find any overarching motivation or something I wanted to find out the next day. And then there's the cringe, such as a character insisting on calling you "flat bartender" (because boobs, amirite?). The bartending part also got repetitive, first because the menu and the requests just don't change or evolve, and second because I did not like the interface: dragging and dropping a small handful of ingredients just gets annoying.

I am with you on this. I’m guessing that I made it 75% through the game. It was ok. It had some good moments, but the writing turned out to be mediocre, and the gameplay was practically nonexistent. The thought of going back to this fills me with mild dread.

Did anyone finish?

I'm only on Day 4, been playing infrequently in pretty short sessions. I definitely dig the overall vibe, and the drink mixing is kind of soothing if not incredibly engaging. The dialog does grate occasionally, which is my only real downside. I'm guessing there's quite a bit more to go, but I figure I'll finish sooner or later unless something takes a turn for the worse.

RawkGWJ wrote:

Did anyone finish?

I'm hoping to start this weekend, I'm still catching up.
Will definitely report back!

So I FINALLY carved out about half an hour to start playing this, and I love, love, love, LOVE the soundtrack. Quickly got the hang of mixing drinks, but so far it's giving me big visual novel vibes (which I enjoy, of course). I don't like that I can't save whenever I want to, so that's something to be mindful of going in.