VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action –  Review
Follow Genre: Simulation, Adventure
Developer: Sukeban Games
Publisher: Ysbryd Games
Platform: PC, PS4, Switch, PS Vita
Tested on: Switch

VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action – Review

Site Score
9.5
Good: Great art style and interesting characters
Bad: Regularly mixing a drink doesn't get explained too well
User Score
8.0
(2 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 8.0/10 (2 votes cast)

VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action was released on Steam nearly three years ago and was received really well. Now recently the game has been released for the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 and we got a chance to test the Switch version. VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action was developed by Sukeban Games and published by Ysbryd Games. In the game, you will take on the role of Jill the bartender and hear gossip and stories from people living in a crime-filled city while serving them drinks. From the moment we laid eyes on the game the art style had piqued our attention, so we were excited to give this game a go and serve people some drinks!

Story

In a city where corporations and criminal empires reign supreme; human life has been infected with nanomachines to keep them in check. The white knights, who are the police and/or military force, are the ones who make sure everybody obeys the corrupt government’s laws.  In this city, it is quite hard to survive, with brutality being a regular occurrence. For some people, this is quite hard to deal with, so they try to deal with it by devoting themselves to their job or families but for many of them, the solution lies at the bottom of the glass.

On a small road not far from the main street, you can find the Hall A of the BTC-Certified bar-coded VA-11 but since that is a mouthful, most people just call it Valhalla. Valhalla is the bar where the main character, Jill, works. She isn’t doing great money wise after neutering her cat, and her rent is due soon. Jill works together in Valhalla with Gillian and her boss Dana. Various people will come inside the bar for a drink and like usual, people love to talk against the bartender. So, through the people that come in for a drink, you as a player, will hear more about what’s happening outside the bar and what the life of different kinds of people is like.

Since the game is similar to a visual novel with bartender gameplay, you will get a lot of conversations and in turn a lot of stories. It’s done in a really nice way as you hear the people from this forsaken city talk about their lives. The story keeps you intrigued as everybody secretly loves gossip.

Graphics

VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action looks really great with a mix between cyberpunk and anime. The characters look all really interesting and have this sort of quirkiness to them just by their looks. There isn’t anything really animated from below the face of the people, but the faces are so expressive that you don’t really notice it, unless you pay attention to that region.

The background is usually the same, since you stay in the same bar. However, there are a few things that are animated in the background, one of them is a fan that is always spinning in the background. When you go back home you do get a small view of Jill’s room which is in smaller pixel art but looks really detailed still. Recipes for the drinks are graphically really nicely explained with everything clearly in order and even hints at the bottom of the page. The UI to search for a drink is also really nice which makes it so much easier to understand which drink you need to find.

Sound

There are a lot of different tracks available for VA-11 Hall-A and the greatest thing is that you can select which songs you feel like hearing. Because you work in a bar and bars often have jukeboxes, the developers decided to add a jukebox where you select twelve songs that you want to hear while you play. After every save point you can switch out the songs with other ones or just keep playing the same songs. As you play the game you will also start to unlock more songs. Sound effects are mostly present in the bartending part of the game. With pouring noises and ice cubes being poured inside the cup as well as the sound of the shaker mixing the drinks.

Gameplay

VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action is an adventure simulation game that also resembles a bit of a visual novel. You will play as Jill the bartender, who, at her job, listens to people complain and gossip while making them a drink. When you first start out after the intro, you get a little tutorial by Gillian testing Jill to see if she remembers the drinks. The tutorial explains how to assemble drinks, how to make it on the rocks and how to age it. It seems however that they forgot to mention one thing; how to just regularly mix a drink. When you make a drink, you pour all the necessary drinks into the shaker and then you have to press a button to mix, but nowhere it says how long to mix unless you are supposed to blend it. Mixing is actually just pressing the button and then immediately pressing it again. However, when you first start the game this could take a while to find out.

There are drinks that need to be blended, which is just letting the mixer shake until it changes speed, this part luckily does get explained really well. Each drink that you make can be edited to fit the customer’s need. You can, for example, add more Karmotrine to make the drink more alcoholic without changing the taste or you could add double the ingredients to make a bigger drink. Sometimes customers want these kinds of edited drinks which either they or Jill herself will hint for.

As you make money, Jill will be able to pay for necessities some of which immediately take funds out of the bank account, but you’ll still have some cash left for decorative pieces. Jill will sometimes yearn for an item and if you buy it, it will make her happy and allows her to perform better at her job. Even though it’s not really obvious how she does better, the item does actually pop up in her room, so you see that it’s being used. If you mess up a drink or don’t satisfy the customer’s taste you will be straight up told this by them which makes sense. Of course, the way the customer says it will depend on their personality and way of speaking, which differs from one person to the other in the game, just like in real life.

Conclusion

VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action is a really fun and good-looking game. At first, you might think that mixing drinks might not be for you, but the game is so much more. Set in an interesting environment with fascinating people just makes this game so much more enjoyable. Everybody likes at least a little gossip, certainly if it isn’t about themselves. This game is the perfect place for just listening (or reading in this case) to interesting stories about people’s lives in a possible future environment. VA-11 HALL-A is certainly a must-have.

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Rating: 8.0/10 (2 votes cast)
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VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action - Review, 8.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
Theotakutem


The one and only slowqueen! -student multimedia-

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