Welcome to Video Game City Week. Today we are adding a cafe.
Coffee Talk’s drink menu and Necrobarista’s aesthetic
Whenever I visit a new place – whether to live or for a short trip – one of my first tasks is to find a good coffee. Not just for a drink, but because a good place to start understanding a city is from a café window. From here, you can watch the citizens of the city pass by, see the changing traffic, and glimpse the underlying flow of the city. Yet that window seat means nothing if it’s not contained in great coffee and what makes a great store? It’s the drinks menu and the aesthetic.
Since it would be weird if a cafe didn’t serve drinks (although GarfieldEats’ brief existence proves anything is possible), let’s explore the drinks menu first, but before that, I have a confession. I do not like coffee. While it may smell good, coffee tastes like muddy water and gives me the jolt, so when it comes to selecting a drink menu, the only place to look is Coffee Talk.
What this menu offers is variety; there’s a wide selection of teas, a hot chocolate called The Bitter Heart – a delicious combination of cinnamon and ginger – and even one that helps you control your werewolf powers during the full moon. You know the menu is good when there’s something a little weird that you always talk about ordering, but never do. In the realm of Coffee Talk, these drinks are both subtle narrative choices and puzzles; a new drink is only unlocked once you find the right combination of ingredients. Through them, the game shows how, sometimes, the doorway to solving a problem can be found in a little comfort.
For aesthetics, let’s visit The Terminal by Necrobarista.
Spanning two floors, this cafe is both cavernous and welcoming. There are small tables where you can chat quietly and others that have been set up to be covered with a horde of notebooks. There are also shelves – lots of shelves – which is great because even if you brought a book it might not be the one you need. (Although there should be taxidermy because, in my opinion, all cafes should have taxidermy.) Putting aside the bookshelves and the fantastic door tree, what The Terminal really captures is how all cafes are a form of liminal space.
Granted, that’s partly because the majority of The Terminal’s clientele are the dead living a last breath of life – making it one of the most liminal spaces that ever dares to be liminal – but the face remains the same ; a cafe may not be a hallway or a hotel room or The Back Rooms, but it is still a place of transition. You can visit a cafe – to write, drink, talk with a friend – but you never stay there. Even if, to you, it seems like hours, the moment, in truth, is fleeting, as you are just another customer who has walked the café floor. The Terminal embodies this liminality and, gazing at the setting sun from a window seat, it forces you to confront it, because life can only move on, even if you don’t want it to.