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VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action released for Linux, some thoughts

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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.
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12 comments
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Rugaliz 21 June 2016 at 7:55 pm UTC
i'm just a little disappointed they didn't use better quality files for the soundtrack. music is half this game and they used ogg at 160 Kbps (around 95% of the game size is the soundtrack). I liked the soundtrack so much i had purchased it in bandcamp months before the game released. I wonder if i can replace the ingame files for ones with higher quality...
But yeah it's a visual novel, you either have the patience for it or you're better of skipping this one.
stan 21 June 2016 at 7:57 pm UTC
Thanks for the thoughts, I now know I will most likely not like it .

QuoteIt 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.
This is the main reason why I found To The Moon unbearable, and most VNs do the same.
stan 21 June 2016 at 7:58 pm UTC
Rugalizi'm just a little disappointed they didn't use better quality files for the soundtrack. music is half this game and they used ogg at 160 Kbps
Ogg can be different things but assuming it is Vorbis or Opus, 160 kbps is extremely good quality.
liamdawe 21 June 2016 at 8:01 pm UTC
RugalizBut yeah it's a visual novel, you either have the patience for it or you're better of skipping this one.
The problem is, I freaking LOVE Anime, but the read, click and repeat cycle is just so monotonous.
DrMcCoy 21 June 2016 at 9:30 pm UTC
VA-11 Hall-A also apparently takes places in the same general universe as Read Only Memories, which is a bit more like a traditional point & click adventure game. I can recommend that one.

From what it looks like, one character of ROM, Jess Meas, also appears in VA-11 Hall-A.
mulletdeath 21 June 2016 at 11:05 pm UTC
Saw this quite a while ago on itch, been waiting for its official release. And now I wait for a time when I have money, after all I spent on the GOG sale.
Shmerl 21 June 2016 at 11:19 pm UTC
Did it feel similar to Papers, Please for you? At least externally it appears so (I didn't buy this game yet. I too already bought a bunch of stuff on GOG sale).


Last edited by Shmerl at 21 June 2016 at 11:21 pm UTC
iniudan 22 June 2016 at 12:41 am UTC
Rugalizi'm just a little disappointed they didn't use better quality files for the soundtrack. music is half this game and they used ogg at 160 Kbps (around 95% of the game size is the soundtrack). I liked the soundtrack so much i had purchased it in bandcamp months before the game released. I wonder if i can replace the ingame files for ones with higher quality...
But yeah it's a visual novel, you either have the patience for it or you're better of skipping this one.

Michael Kelly indeed made a great soundtrack for the game. Here the official post on youtube for those who want to listen.

View video on youtube.com
View video on youtube.com
stan 22 June 2016 at 11:13 am UTC
iniudanMichael Kelly indeed made a great soundtrack for the game. Here the official post on youtube for those who want to listen.
Thanks, I like the music… Another adventure/VN game with excellent music is The Maker’s Eden.


Last edited by stan at 22 June 2016 at 11:14 am UTC
JudasIscariot 22 June 2016 at 9:19 pm UTC
ShmerlDid it feel similar to Papers, Please for you? At least externally it appears so (I didn't buy this game yet. I too already bought a bunch of stuff on GOG sale).

It did feel a bit like Papers, Please to me but without all the communist overtones

Fun fact: if you don't buy the item the main character is thinking about, you will not be able to recall drink recipes

Also, the story changes depending on the drinks you serve to people but how, I have no clue...
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