To be honest, I almost passed on the opportunity to review VA-11 Hall-A - Cyberpunk Bartender Action, a new game by Sukeban Games. Something about the logo caught my eye, and a quick lookup of the game had me hooked at the music. After that, I figured it couldn’t hurt to request a review code and give the game a shot.
I’m really glad I did.
VA-11 Hall-A (pronounced Valhalla) is an interactive fiction game where you’re interacting with patrons in the VA-11 Hall-A bar located in Glitch City. By interacting, I mean making drinks. There’s no dialogue trees or branching menu options here. Everything plays out depending on the drinks you make. Sometimes you can loosen someone’s tongue by adding a bit more alcohol in the drinks. Sometimes it’s just remembering someone’s usual drink. Sometimes even the wrong drink can steer a conversation in a different direction. There’s multiple endings to the game based on your performance as a bartender.
The cast of characters is interesting. Some may seem pretty shallow at first, but the more and more you interact with the rotating customers, the more you get a feel for them and the city you all live in. VA-11 Hall-A tells an interesting story through fleeting conversations over the bar. Pair the great writing with the excellent soundtrack, cyberpunk visuals, and little details like checking the news, blogs, and shopping for the main character, Jill, at night, and you’ve got something pretty amazing.
I’m only just a few hours into VA-11 Hall-A, but I’m enjoying myself immensely. The game has you reading more than anything else, but the world is so rich with much to be discovered. I’ve always enjoyed interactive fiction, but this one really hits a lot of great buttons to make it stand out.
One thing to note though. This game is definitely made for adults. While there’s nothing graphic, there’s plenty of bad language and adult themes brought up in the conversations with VA-11 Hall-A’s patrons.
A Steam key for VA-11 Hall-A was provided free by Sukeban Games