Endlessly stylish, emotionally gripping and deceptively addictive, VA-11 HALL-A is the pure essence of a visual novel: a digital page-turner filled with unforgettable characters and set in an infectious cyberpunk noir that will live in your head for weeks after you’ve put the game down.
VA-11 HALL-A is so much more than just chatting up clients and making drinks. It's the kind of game that makes you think, and it can be silly, serious, soul-crushing, and light-hearted, all at the same time. Its cyberpunk/anime flair is just the garnish on top of the cocktail.
Overall, VA-11 HALL-A on the Switch is a marvelous port that works far better than I ever expected it to. The new controls may take some getting used to, but after a few minutes tinkering with them I found they came pretty naturally, and overall the game has kept the charm and likeability that drew me to it back in 2016. Gameplay may get a bit stale after long sessions of play, but for small relaxing wind-down sessions at the end of the night, you’ll find no better place to be than in Jill’s head during yet another shift at the bar.
The mix of bartender simulator, interesting characters and clever writing makes VA-11 HALL-A a little gem, especially if you like games that are not your typical an have a lot to say. It is best savored in a smooth way... Like a whiskey on the rocks in a bar.
VA-11 HALL-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action is a perfect example of the fact that a whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. Mixing drinks isn’t mechanically interesting, and it fumbles around with social commentary in questionable ways at times. However, those moments between Jill and Alma were enough to elevate the whole game for me. It truly does feel like you’re sat at the barstools with your friends, chugging some brewskis, shooting the shit, and (mostly) having a good time. You might be making out with a toilet come morning, but hey, in life there’s no reward without risk. So if you’ve yet to play VA-11 HALL-A, or if you just want to revisit it, prep your finest glass cleaning rag, because it’s time to mix drinks and change lives.
To prepare an excellent Visual Novel cocktail, we particularly need a very good writing quality, varied narrative paths and the ability to transport ourselves to a world with a unique atmosphere. On these points VA-11 Hall-A is very convincing. But where the recipe turns sour, it is in the inability of the game to renew its gameplay and its sequences.
I read a couple of poor reviews, inspiring me to finally finish this game because I knew I'd be sad it was over. I actually bought this game sometime in late 2019 on an absolute whim, it was on sale for like $8 in the eShop. I tend to scope out other reviews just so I can verify I'm not buying some random pos, & this game seemed to have mostly good ratings. I was completely blown away! I love visual novels, & VA-11 HALL-A essentially plays out as such. If you're one of those morons that doesn't like games where interactivity is limited & likes to complain about that, I suggest playing a different game genre (like, I dunno, any other game). This is one of the most mature, relatable stories I've ever seen in my life. I was blown away by almost every character, becoming more & more interested in all their stories, all for it to come to a satisfying, bittersweet conclusion. The graphics are a clear shout-out to older games, probably 90's PC games. Mostly well rendered, the art appears as very cohesive pixels that are quite charming. In my opinion, even though everything else about this game is pretty excellent, one other thing stands out: the music. Clearly Michael Kelly (aka Garoad) played the demos or early access to this title, because he 100% nails the soundtrack. I actually felt like the music in the jukebox for VA-11 HALL-A could've really been music I'd hear at a bar in 50 years. It may seem silly saying it loud, but the music was just that spot on for me. I even listen to the ost's in my free time! I can't recommend this game enough, it's fantastic.
I could see giving this game a higher rating if I was into visual novels. It's not my cup of tea, but I can see how people would like it. It's a slice-of-life story listening to people talk about their lives and helping them in the only way a bartender can. The standout feature here is the soundtrack, There's probably 50-60 songs you can pick from and then queue them up on the jukebox while your work your shift. and all the songs are pretty good.
This is a visual novel that has a strong deviant-art—anime-conventioner—somber vibe, and no choice of what your depressed character says. The choice of what drink you make effects dialogue and story slightly, though you never notice that payoff when you play, you have to look up what would happen with different drinks to feel like you had any effect. One character will only open up to you if you serve this one type of drink he doesn’t order, and there’s no knowing that without a guide. I stalled out. The art style is nice though.
I found this game pretty boring. Its set in a cyberpunk world but is very pg-13, characters are very bubly and the gameplay is random and boring. You just mix about 10 different ingredients to do all the drinks possible with no logic whatsoever, that definitely wasn't for me. If you're thinking this is a blade runner kind of cyberpunk you will be sorely disapointed, this is more like animal crossing cyberpunk, but animal crossing actually has engaging gameplay.