[PlayStation Vita] VA-11 HALL-A Review

by the_nmac

A new indie release has made its way to the PS Vita – I was all in when I saw the words Cyberpunk Bartending Action. Learn more about this one in our VA-11 HALL-A review!

VA-11 HALL-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action is a booze em’ up about waifus, technology, and post-dystopia life.

In this world, corporations reign supreme, all human life is infected with nanomachines designed to oppress them, and the terrifying White Knights ensure that everyone obeys the laws.

But, this is not about those people.

You are a bartender at VA-11 HALL-A, affectionately nicknamed ‘Valhalla.’ Although it is just a small bar downtown, it attracts the most fascinating people this side of dystopia. Keep your clients lubricated, and you will be made privy to the most interesting stories.

VA-11 HALL-A kind of describes itself in its title: it is indeed a Cyberpunk Bartender Action Simulator! You serve people drinks in a dystopian future and learn about the world and what is going on it from there stories. It’s a really interesting combination!

The game itself is really interesting. As with most visual novels, there is a lot of reading to do, but basically, you play as Jill, a bartender who works at a well-known dive bar called VA-11 HALL-A – other patrons refer to it as Valhalla. People come in, and you have to serve them drinks, and while sometimes they will be direct and tell you what they want, sometimes you have to listen for clues in the conversation and remember what they have ordered before and what their favorites are. You will influence the story’s direction through what drinks you serve. This is a really unique progression system for a game, yielding interesting results.

VA-11 HALL-A review - 1

The game itself, mechanically, is basic and straightforward, but that is not a bad thing. As you go and make the drinks, you can look up your recipes in the drink book. They are listed in different orders, so depending on the clues you get from your patron you may be able to figure it out quicker. The drink mixing itself is easy, since you just need to drag and drop the liquors needed for each recipe, although sometimes the customer may order a larger version, so you need to accommodate if possible by doubling the recipe. Some drinks also have their alcohol amount preset, while for others you can choose to keep the person really sober or make them very drunk. Your choice. The final option as well is mixing or blending, and some drinks won’t work properly if you don’t follow the necessary steps.

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The game’s look is minimalist, using a simple retro interface. You have your customer in front of you, dialogue below, and the drink mixer to the right. That being said, the game does a great job with its character design and showing their emotions. The music is retro chiptunes which make for a really good soundtrack. You can switch the soundtrack around in the bar as well choosing only a few songs each night to play.

VA-11 HALL-A game has 34 trophies on its list, including a platinum trophy. It doesn’t look super hard to get but may require a few playthroughs to get the different endings since you need to know which drinks to serve for each specific ending so that you can see everything in the game.

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Final Thoughts

I found VA-11 HALL-A to be a delightful throwback to ages past thanks to its charming almost full-on old-school graphics, music, and gameplay mechanics. However, there is so much more going on behind this one with the decision making and how the story will turn out for you, making different playthroughs feel, well, different. The world around you is very interesting, and you do get a sense of how big it is thanks to the conversations you have with your patrons. Give this game a try on Vita, since I’m sure you won’t regret it!

This VA-11 HALL-A review is based on PS Vita copies provided by Wolfgame.

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