Image 1: an excerpt from the introduction to the game
The setting of Va-11-Hall-A – Cyberpunk Bartender Action is quite simple. The player plays Jill, a bartender in a rundown bar, Valhalla. Standing behind the counter Jill will engage in conversations prompted by various characters that visit the bar and the player gets to interact with them through pouring drinks. Hopefully to their liking. But more than pouring drinks to customers, the game is about the discussions and stories Jill will hear from them which are mostly humorous, at times gloomy and sometimes even dark.
Image 2: one of the customers at the bar
Besides serving drinks to the customers the player has the option of checking Jill’s phone, which further develops the story of Valhalla. Reading through the blog of a pop-idol, browsing through forums and reading the newspaper are daily activities that allows the player to delve deeper into the world of Valhalla and tie the news to the stories the customers have shared.
The game flows in a not too fast a pace and at times I found myself really drawn to the conversations Jill was having with her customers. Wanting to hear more about the troubles of a cat-eared cyborg humanoid, or just about the ramblings of a stuck-up old newspaper owner, the game kept me coming back for more. All this was further amplified by the excellent soundtrack the game has to offer. A fun little minigame has the player set up Valhalla’s jukebox a couple of times every work shift. This gives the option to explore the more than a hundred excellent synthwave songs and choose the best tracks to suit one’s tastes about a fitting atmosphere for a bar in a dystopian future.
Image 3: Jill reading The Augmented Eye through her phone in the morning
All things considered I really enjoyed the experience, but it might not be everyone’s cup of tea due to its’ format as a visual novel. Many people expect more smashing of buttons or dialogue options so that they can dictate where the game is going but Valhalla has neither, which is both a pro and a con. I recommend it to people who enjoy visual novels, synthwave/vaporwave and if they are also fans of cyberpunk, they are sure in for a treat!
Developer: Sukeban Games
Publisher: Ysbryd Games
Released: June 21, 2016
Platforms: Pc, Ps Vita, iOS, Linux, Nintendo switch, PS4
Genres: Visual novel, cyberpunk, simulation
PEGI: RP (rating pending, I suggest M)