Early this year, I stumbled upon an upcoming visual novel that had me excited. As you may be aware, the vast majority of the staff at Noisy Pixel here are from up in North America. I say up because I, on the other hand, come from a land down under, Australia. So, when I see a game that describes itself with the line “a story about death and coffee” as well as “about a supernatural Melbourne cafe,” I end up squeeing a bit. It turns out that I have not been following my local game scene nearly enough, so I’m going to make an effort to change that, starting with this.
Necrobarista is a cinematic anime-inspired visual novel that makes its own rules, eschewing text boxes and portraits for posed scenes and a text system so unique that I am having trouble describing it. The words float there? Like it’s a manga page but without the speech bubbles. It’s rad. Anyway, the game takes place in a coffee shop called ‘The Terminal,’ a hipster cafe in the back streets of fantasy Melbourne. During the game, our lead Necromancer/Barista, Maddy Xiāo, has performed some ritual that has allowed the dead to come back for a night to relax with a cup of joe. It might be Joe, too, because Maddy can infuse her coffee with the souls of the dammed. Now that’s some fascinating coffee.
During PAX AUS, we had the chance to chat with the lead artist of Necrobarista Ngoc Vu to discuss the game as we get closer to a firm launch date.
Jacob Kavanagh: As a lead artist, how involved are you in Necrobarista’s development?
Ngoc Vu: So, I actually started off from the beginning with Kevin and Joe. We were all Uni friends, and I guess after graduation, we decided to make a game together. We all love anime, and we really love visual novels, but we felt it was still a real niche genre. So that sort of sowed the seeds to what we wanted out of our project. So from the beginning, we’ve all been talking about how we were going to make this game and how it’s going to look and everything.
JK: It’s a pretty ambitious looking game, what is it like setting up something like this for your first major release?
NV: We’ve learned so many things over the course of development. We were game design students, but we didn’t exactly know too much about marketing. Luckily, we have such a considerable amount of experienced developers here in Melbourne, so we just kept asking them questions, and they kept giving us really really good advice. It’s thanks to the Melbourne games community that we’re able to really kickstart this game as our first commercial product for our business.
JK: How excited are you to be nearing a solid release date?
NV: We’re incredibly excited; our first couple of release dates had issues with funding as we really wanted to get a game that was to the quality that we wanted. Developers here are incredibly talented, but also extremely time poor, so it does take time to find employees in all that. But for this one, the game is pretty much complete, we’re delighted with the product, and we’re really happy to bring it to more locales than we had intended as well. We’re confident the next release date will be the one.
JK: How in-depth was that process to try and get it released in so many languages?
NV: Initially, we wanted to release it in English, traditional, and simplified Chinese, as well as Japanese. Well, we’ve gotten so many fans around the world that want to play the game and read the game, we thought it was pretty necessary to be able to provide that for such a diverse audience. We’re proud to have fourteen languages upon release.
JK: Is there anything that players should immediately take notice of in Necrobarista, that you think they should pay attention to?
NV: I would advise players to focus on the orange keywords and what they signify. We want players to really savor these words and consider the meaning in the context of the narrative. It will make it really easy to discern which short stories you want to read within the first playthrough.
JK: Once Necrobarista is out, do you plan on creating more visual novel-esque titles?
NV: We have the system for it, we’re definitely considering working on future titles upon release. We are also in the talks about perhaps implementing DLC for Necrobarista, as well.
JK: You did mention that you were inspired by various visual novels, which ones did stick out to you? What are your favorites?
NV: For me personally, I really love the Ace Attorney series. I think that was the one that really drummed it in for me. The fact that I had to pay attention to what was going on with the court cases was incredibly mind-blowing for me. As for the director, he’s really interested in the untranslated Japanese visual novels. So he gets the fan translated titles-
JK: Oh, that’s a mood.
NV: Yeah, yeah, so some titles I think he’s mentioned are House of Fata Morgana, I think he has a figurine from Saya no Uta.
JK: Oh, christ.
JK: Those both only recently got English releases.
NV: Yes, yes, we’re in pretty deep love, we’re really excited about the whole visual novel spirit. It seems like it’s getting the real push that we felt after starting the development of Necrobarista. Just to be a part of that wave is really gratifying for us.
JK: Is there anything you’d like to say to fans looking forward to the game?
NV: Please look forward to the release; we will be announcing it soon, as soon as we get greenlit. Please look out for us on Steam as well as PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, later down the line.
This post may contain Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate Noisy Pixel earns from qualifying purchases.