A Tavern for Tea, or visual novels at the bar

What happens if you’ve got a tavern, but no booze? No fresh meat off the bone? Just tea. Well, npckc made a game where we’re meant to find out!

A Tavern for Tea is decidedly not a tavern game. As the description says, it’s a “visual novel and little tea-making sim.” The name is not deceptive, though, because who says you can’t have a tavern for tea?

The game dumps you at the front door of your tavern and opening the front door starts the show — a nice touch. In fact, the presentation as a whole is quite good. The aesthetic of the tavern is clean and visually pleasing, if not limited; as you see, there is only one backdrop for the extent of the story. But the muted color palette and warm tones are nice to look at and not wearisome, as the game is relatively short.

Immersion isn’t a real problem here either. We, the players, are the proprietor of A Tavern for Tea; we’ve established this place as a safe haven for anyone to simply show up and just “be.” So, the setup is rather nice for those of us who daydream about sitting behind the bar of our own rathskeller. We even get to brew our own tea! Sort of…

I say “sort of,” because we don’t just get to brew what we want. As the kindly barkeep with exceptional listening skills and empathy, it’s our job to figure out just what our two patrons want and what is going to keep them around. For we are in fact good listeners and want to keep them around…except when we don’t. I did enjoy the little bit of tea making we got to do, as it was fanciful and well-executed, if intentionally brief.

However, this is primarily a novel. To experience the full story we have to brew the tea in such a way to, as I said, get the patron to stay, but also to get them to leave so that the shyer one will open up without the other present.

As a visual novel, the writing is nice and it is rather enjoyable to experience a game as a tavernkeeper where your job is mainly to listen. You kind of feel like Sam Malone. In fact, the tone encourages a tremendous level of kindness and self-care, which is important. Whether this is of interest to you as a human, or as someone who loves a good inn, it’s charming enough to enamor one to the game, even if there really isn’t too much game to be had.

Ok, bud.

And that’s the rub. If you’re looking to run your own tavern in your own way, to brew beer or sling mutton, this may not be for you. But if you enjoy a small slice-of-life and you don’t mind puzzling out what your customers want and starting over a few times (I was getting frustrated until I found the “Notes” tab, which was very helpful), then A Tavern for Tea is worth your time and money.

I’m also excited to offer an interview I did with the developer for you to enjoy. CLICK HERE to learn some more about npckc and the design process behind Tavern for Tea!

What about you? Do you think this kind of visual novel works for innkeeping games?

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