Hello everyone! I used to keep track of my backlog fights here some years ago, and putting together my thoughts about games and writing entries was a therapeutic experience. So I thought... why can't I start again? Its February already, but still better late than never, right? Playing games and hunting for achievements bring me a lot of joy so I'm all in for making it even more fun.
Jan'24: slowly getting started
This year began with some wonderful titles and many of them I won't even mention today since they are not beaten or completed. I spent a lot of time playing Cuisineer, Sun Haven and Lemon Cake, with first two being absolutely incredible and Lemon Cake turning out to be such a big disappointment that I literally cannot force myself to get into it again, even though I want it done and dusted. But let's talk about games I've completed in January and start with Battle Chef Brigade. I'm still playing it, since I kinda aim for 100%, and for that you need to reach a high rank in daily cooking challenges. And it's kinda hard, not because of the gameplay but cause it takes a lot of time. Right now I'm rank 6, and for getting the cheevo you need rank 12, so yeah, halfway to go.
I'm really passionate about cooking games. And I'm always excited when a game has cooking mechanics, a decent variety of food and recipes, and allows you to cook a meal step by step. When I see yummy eggs and bacon, tasty chocolate pancakes or delicious italian pasta, my mouth is watering and I get an immediate shot of joy in my brain. The aesthetic appeal of the food in games I've played through years never failed to inspire and delight me. And Battle Chef Brigade is no exception. This game is a mix of fighting and match 3 mechanic, and honestly it works really well. You go on the hunt fighting creatures and then run to your pot to cook a yummy meal from the drop. You fight against your skilled opponent so you must do your best to win the battle and cook on time! You match green, red or blue ingredients to create a "crystal" of a better quality that's gonna make your meal more tasty. Once you understand what you need to do, the game becomes extremely fun and entertaining. There is an interesting story, and as you progress through it, you can get helpful things like books that give you bonuses at the end of the battle or pots that let you match 2 of the ingredients and get a "crystal" of much better quality and so on.
The meals in BCB look incredible, and they are incredibly unique since you cook them from what you get from hydras, dragons, birds and other monsters, plus you can use berries from bushes and mushrooms you find in caves. They all are different colors and when you enter the battle, you know what flavours your meals must be, green or blue or both. Each duel requires an individual approach, different tactics and different preparations, and that makes battles unique. Oh and speaking of unique, I think I forgot to mention the art style that is absolutely breathtaking, plus if I am not mistaken, its hand drawn, and wow. So beautiful.
I just regret the story ended so suddenly. When I was ready to go to bed I'd play the game for an hour, and after a few days it was done. Now I'm left with endless grind! But I'm not complaining since battles in daily challenges are fun and I don't have a feeling that I wanna give up and drop the game.
So in conclusion, if you enjoy puzzle games, match 3 games, fighting and cooking, you can find something for yourself in Battle Chef Brigade. This game was in my library for years and I wasn't paying attention to it, and ohh, if you have it in your backlog, try to think about checking it out.
Speaking of cooking games, the first game I've completed in 2024 is Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly. Of course, you cannot cook there but... technically speaking, serving tea and coffee kinda counts, right?
Back in time I've played VA-11 Hall-A and till this day it remains one of my favorite games, so when I heard about another
bartender barista visual novel I knew I'm gonna like it. I got my hands on Coffee Talk in 2020 and was not disappointed, great story, fantastic artstyle and unique characters that feel real, the brewing mechanic and the fact you can change the story depending on what you make for visitors of your little cozy cafe instantly melted my heart. Well, I have the same impression after playing Coffee Talk 2.
This game made me feel like I returned home after wandering around the world for a long long time. I was happy to open the door to my cozy coffee shop again and see my old friends I got attached to in Episode 1, and to fall in love with new people. They all come to your cafe to relax after a tough day, to have a heart-to-heart talk and get something off their chests, ask for an advice and just enjoy a damn good drink from their favorite barista. I believe lots of people can find themselves in some characters since they struggle with problems we all go through. Good writing made characters feel genuine. In addition it's exciting to follow how they open up more and more with each day and open the corners of their heart to you, because you are a good listener and never judge them.
You cannot choose what to say to your guests but the drinks you serve really matter. So, it's no different from Episode 1. Sometimes your visitor expresses what they want directly, and sometimes they just hope for your insight, not telling their preferences. If you get it wrong, you'll lose a dialogue, and in the worst case it can ruin someone's life. Your drinks can make characters upset, disappointed or the opposite, give them hope, confidence or inspiration. And I almost forgot about the new feature – items. Guests sometimes forget or give you certain things and you decide what to do with them. Mr Policeman forgets his favorite lighter or you get a business card with personal number on it, maybe someone needs it and it can change their life? Who knows. It's also worth mentioning in Episode 2 we have not only coffee but also blue tea and hibiscus, which means more recipes and ingredients. The drinks are pleasant to look at, and we can do latte art as always.
The game perfectly works on Steam Deck, I was playing it in bed after celebrating New Year lol. So for a few days I was fully immersed in the story making tea and coffee and listening to life stories. What a good way to relax and start a gaming year.
The last but definitely not least liked I'd love to mention is Cat Cafe Manager.
In Cat Cafe Manager we are responsible for our own small cafe and gonna work hard to gain customers and satisfy their needs, adopt cats and give them home they deserve. As a cat person I really wanted to try this out, and it turned out to be quite a nice adventure. I cannot say I was impressed by the story but I pretty much enjoyed the gameplay. Yes, we have a cafe, we cook, we have stations we use for different food and there are different types of customers that have their own expectations for our cozy place. The more points of satisfaction they have, the more profit we get when our guest leaves. Go buy more magic decorations and witches gonna absolutely love it, unlock recipes for meals they are most likely to order, so they don't end up disappointed getting a glass of water, and yeah, that's it! So basically it's all about gaining resourses and buying more and more stuff to progress in the story and turn your little cafe into lovely place people adore and want to visit.
I liked the fact that we run around getting orders and serving customers. You can hire AI chefs and waiters but honestly, they are kinda slow and sometimes simply do nothing, maybe they get tired or something, so I was always taking responsibility for doing.. everything. Chopping salad, brewing coffee, cleaning tables, cleaning after cats, feeding cats, while my AI companions were somewhere doing... something. I wasn't even hiring more than two after some point cause I had no need for help from them. Not complaining honestly.
During the day you can lure stray cats and they are gonna live in your cafe. Cats have stats and certain useful skills, for example, witches give 20% more currency, something like that. Each type of customers gives their own currency and you can use it to buy new recipes and decorations. So the game is all about working day by day and being patient. It gets repetitive with time but that's okay. After a few hours you gonna see pretty much all gameplay and the only thing that gonna keep you playing is achievements. I stayed for them and it was entertaining to do the hunt.
This game got a lot of negative reviews due to being buggy. I honestly was lucky enough to experience no bugs at all, probably because the devs polished the game, and if that's true, it's nice to know all the flaws were fixed. By the way, as I said, you can give cats from your cafe forever home, but honestly... I got so attached to my kitties that it was impossible for me to say bye to them. They are so lovely and cute! I believe the devs should have added some kind of perks or bonuses for giving a cat forever home, because you 1) lose a cat you love 2) lose stats cat gives. And oh, you can adopt a racoon. I think it's cute and silly!
Night Call is honestly so underrated it breaks my heart, even though I understand why people dislike it but still I'm gonna defend it for life. In this game we play as a parisian taxi driver who works at night. He was attacked by a serial killer, and now he's engaged in murder mystery, trying to get and put pieces of information together to find out who is that bloody murderer. As Houssine, our main character, is on his night shifts, he meets different people that are willing to talk and share what's on their mind. I believe it's easy to vent to a taxi driver, cause you meet him once and never again, and he won't judge since he heard so many stories that are much crazier than yours. I was all in for the stories of people you meet. Every single person has their own life story and shares it with you, I enjoyed the writing and personalities, and could empathize with strangers. Unlike Coffee Talk I mentioned today, we can speak to people in our cab, and our choices really matter. Whatever we say helps to find a common language with strangers, or, make them shut down completely, or make a bad decision in their life. We must ask the right people right questions to get the information for the investigation. And the clock is ticking. We are given a few days to make our guess.
It would be too easy if we could just drive around and talk. We have limited finances we must manage carefully, or we're gonna end up fired. Houssine must have money for rent and fuel, and if we have negative balance at the end of the day or have nothing after paying our rent, it's game over. Well, not really, as you can still continue through the menu and start that night over, but better be careful with choosing the rides and money. There are a few murder mysteries we can investigate. Each has different endings that depend on our choices. By the way, Night Call doesn't end after the main story, it has a "free roaming" mode where it's much easier to meet people you had no chance to see in main game.
As you play and speak to strangers, you fill entries in "Passidex", it's some kind of an encyclopedia about people we meet during the night. And that's where I wanna complain. A lot of entries are bugged and you cannot complete Passidex for 100%, even for 90%, because even if you did everything right for the entry to be there, it just won't count at all. Also, I found a game crushing bug where I cannot give a ride to a tarot lady, as she speaks, the game crashes, and I can do nothing to fix this. Another problem I encountered is that I cannot have certain dialogues with certain people, so it's impossible to get some achievements. Sometimes you just pick up a person and game skips the whole ride and just pays you money for the ride, and you end up reading no dialogue. I can keep going, but I don't want to. By the way, it doesn't work at Deck, but that's fine.
Honestly, this game is awesome if you close your eyes on its imperfections. If you only rate stories and characters, the whole setting, the atmosphere, the writing, it's an absolute win, but all the bugs make people disappointed with Night Call. Still... no matter what, this game has my heart.