Visual Novel Necrobarista Has You Pondering the Meaning of Life and Death Over Coffee

When I first heard about Necrobaristait only took the title for me to be immediately intrigued.

At the time, I didn't know what the story entailed, or even that it was a visual novel. Instead, the promise of a story about resurrecting the dead and coffee shops in one place seemed exactly like my cup of coffee. So, when the game was ported to the Nintendo Switch in the form of Nectobarista: Final Pour, I knew I'd have to try it, and when the team behind the game were kind enough to send me a review key for the title, I got to find out what I was actually in for.

The Terminal

In Necrobarista, 27-year-old Maddy runs a coffee shop called the Terminal in Melbourne, Australia. Besides the fact that it's utterly gorgeous, it doesn't seem all that different from a typical coffee shop, but it holds a strange secret—it's actually a rest stop for the recently deceased, who get to spend their last 24 hours there before moving on from this world to the next.

Necrobarista: maddy's rules

(Necrobarisa: Final Pour via Coconut Island Games)

As the boss, Maddy has developed some unique skills, both as a barista and a counselor of sorts, helping the newly dead deal with the very sudden change they'll have to come to terms with very quickly. As the game begins, the most recent arrival is a young man named Kishan. As expected, he does not take the news well, and it's part of Maddy's job to guide him through on his next journey.

Necrobarista: maddy pouring coffee

(Necrobarisa: Final Pour via Coconut Island Games)

Of course, Maddy doesn't do this all on her own. There's her mentor (and the former Terminal owner) Chay, who taught her most of what she knows while hiding a few compelling secrets of his own, and the 13-year-old electronics expert Ashley, who happens to have a robotic arm. Underlying all of this is the fact that the team sometimes performs dangerous (and highly illegal) necromancy rituals, which may or may not be attracting some unwanted attention—and the fact that they're deeply in debt (and not the money kind).

Necrobarista: chay used to own the place

(Necrobarisa: Final Pour via Coconut Island Games)

As the story unfolds, players learn more about these characters and how they all got into their unique predicaments, culminating in unexpected yet crucial changes for everything involved.

Necrobarista: Ashley flase sense of security

(Necrobarisa: Final Pour via Coconut Island Games)



The story of Necrobarista unfolds in a beautifully animated visual novel. Even though the "gameplay" is almost exclusively confined to pressing a button to see the next part of the story, it never grows stale, with text presented in a dynamic and visually appealing way over moving scenes. Unlike some other visual novels, it never feels like you're just flipping through the pages of a comic book, but that you're actually front and center in the action. You can also inspect select keywords to learn more about how they're important to the story (or simply to hear funny things about them).

Necrobarista: inspect keyword

(Necrobarisa: Final Pour via Coconut Island Games)

It also helps that the characters are so fully realized and smartly written. As the protagonist, Maddy is sharp and relatably flawed, with a struggle that makes her instantly likable. The other characters, too, round out the story and offer their own unique perspectives in addition to moving the story forward in important ways. The story definitely didn't go where I was expecting, especially based on the story's start, and I loved seeing it move slowly to its conclusion.


(Necrobarisa: Final Pour via Coconut Island Games)

The game is also stunning from start to finish. Firstly, the coffee shop is gorgeous. It's absolutely the type of cozy, book-filled haven I'd love to visit myself, and the thought of huddling up in one of its corners and sipping something tasty seems like a dream. The characters also have a quirky and captivating design, and they fit in well within this strange world and contrast well with the game's themes of life and death.

Necrobarista: coffee shop pretty

(Necrobarisa: Final Pour via Coconut Island Games)

There are also sections in the game, between chapters, where you can stroll around the coffee shop to explore it. Keep an eye out for jittery walls of text to unlock "Memories," which are essentially side stories. Though they're not critical to the main plot, they definitely enhance it, adding to the rich narrative and rounding out the characters you encounter. Or, if you just want to find out what happens in the main story, you can skip those entirely.


The Journey

At the end of the day, Necrobarista is really a story about the journey that is death and while that can sound scary or sad (and it is a bit of both in this game) it's also about the necessity of it, and the idea that maybe what makes life so meaningful is that it's finite—for most of the characters, at least. It's about delaying the inevitable and coming to terms with whatever happens next, unraveled through a relatable story.

Necrobarista: books in rain

(Necrobarisa: Final Pour via Coconut Island Games)

Though the dialogue may be a bit Millenial-oriented for both older and younger players, it all rings true for this cast and makes these characters feel authentic. And while I definitely don't want to reveal too much about the story or where it goes, it's a worthwhile journey, and if you love storytelling, the supernatural and coffee shops, playing Necrobarista is a no-brainer.

Necrobarista: more espresso less depresso

(Necrobarisa: Final Pour via Coconut Island Games)


Necrobarista is out now on Apple Arcade, Steam, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch for $21.99.


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