VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action has been released for Linux and thanks to the guys at GOG I have been sent a copy to play with. Here's some thoughts.
If you buy it from GOG, be aware that you will need to install specific libs to get it running, as GOG games do not bundle the libs you need with it.
Note: I'm actually a massive Anime fan, so it's not that I don't like Anime. I own plenty of DVD and Bluray Anime series, a number of Manga novels and so on. Understand that before reading.
I'm going to be honest, I usually steer well away from Anime styled games because of how they usually like to shovel cleavage into your face at all times. I am always hoping one will hook me in, which is why I keep trying them. VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action seems to be an entirely different breed, it seems like a much more mature visual novel.
The interface is actually quite ingenious, you use a smartphone to save and load the game, as well as reading in-game news and changing the music. I actually think that's brilliant and quite funny due to the rise in popularity of smartphones people will feel right at home doing it, I know I did.
The main aim of the game is to mix a bunch of ingredients together and serve them up to random customers that wonder in, and have them tell you it's not good enough. So you make another, bigger and better and then they have a chat with you. This is how you really learn about the world of the game, but getting people drunk.
Some of the writing is actually quite bang-on, especially the news editor. What he says is so true about so many news companies and investors and so on it's quite striking. The writing in general isn't bad at all. When you manage to power past the first customer (who waffles on like mad), it actually gets a little bit more interesting when you learn some things about your boss.
I'm going to be honest though, it hasn't turned me around on the whole visual novel stuff. If I want to read a book I will, if I want to watch Anime I will, if I want to play a game you get the idea. I was bored of read, click, read, click......make a drink....read, click, read, click and so on.
I found the actual gameplay to be rather boring and uninspiring. Mainly because I don't get along with visual novels, but if you usually do, you will probably quite like it. I realise not everyone shares my tastes and I realise visuals novels are a big thing, and this one at least does a few things differently and mixes it up a bit (see what I did there? You're a bartender, you mix drinks...I will see myself out).
It spoon feeds you such small amounts of text each time, that the amount of clicking you have to do just to keep reading becomes a real nuisance. It actually stops me being engaged with the story, as everything is broken up by constantly clicking just to read that tiny bit more before I need to click again.
Cracking chill out music though, it does have a great soundtrack.
The Linux version seems incredibly stable, so if visual novels are your thing it works really nicely!
Grab VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action on GOG and Steam.