VA-11 Hall-A’s Cyberpunk Bartending Lands June 21st

I don’t understand why Papers, Please didn’t begin a flood of games in which you learn about a world through the performance of an odd job within it. I don’t want to be a hero, I want to be a cobbler carving wooden shoes in medieval Europe, and a museum tour guide in a rich fantasy world. I also very much want to be a cyberpunk bartender, which is what VA-11 Hall-A is offering when it releases for PC, Mac and Linux on June 21st. The game’s final trailer is below.

VA-11 Hall-A, whose punctuation I already resent having to type, is skirting with genres I don’t care about: anime-styled visual novels. But those games bore me for being linear and relatively uninteractive, whereas Vallhalla (yes) branches its storyline based on your decisions, and your decisions are over what drinks to make for the customers that drift into your bar. “Get to know your clients, their tastes, and prepare the drink that will change their lives,” says the blurb.

The game has been in development for a few years and in that time the team have released a demo and a soundtrack. It was on those strengths that we chose it as one of the best games at EGX Rezzed 2016.

I went on a cyberpunk bender at the end of last year after reading Neuromancer for the first time and bartender is definitely the position I’d want to inhabit within that world, much more so than a hacker or assassin. If I was playing a Cowboy Bebop game, I’d want to be Jet in the kitchen more than Spike on the mission. Spaceship Chef Action.

[Disclosure: sometime RPS writer Cassandra Khaw has worked for the publishers of this game.]

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  1. GWOP says:

    Love the soundtrack.

    • Shazbut says:

      The music there was probably what caused me to go from “what is this silly game?” to “I WANT THIS” within about 20 seconds

  2. MrFinnishDude says:

    Oh yes the soundtrack is simply amazing. I vigorously look forward to this game because it really satisfies my aesthetic… or since were speaking in dumb internet terms: my
    A E S T H E T I C
    Strange thing how such a silly dumb internet meme thing controls most of my shopping decisions. I guess it’s culture in a way.

  3. Ross Angus says:

    Well if we’re simplifying the names of games such as “VA-11 Hall-A” to “Vallhalla”, where will it end? “Alan Wake” to “Awake?” “Deus Ex” to “The Amazing Adventures of the Jesus Christ Brothers”?

    • Scripten says:

      While I would totally play a game called “The Amazing Adventures of the Jesus Christ Brothers”, I would argue that neither of your examples really fit with the punctuation scheme. The closest I can think of is “Th4if”, and we all know how well that went down.

      • Scripten says:

        And of course I meant “Thi4f” but clicked the submit button without proofing my post.

  4. theapeofnaples says:

    Getting a Shufflepuck Café vibe from the visuals.

  5. Babymech says:

    The bits of writing on display in the trailer certainly lean towards the tumblr webcomic weeaboo side of the scale. When did people decide that cyberpunk wasn’t a subgenre of noir detective fiction? Can’t we just have a bartender version of Circuit’s Edge?

  6. Kala says:

    “If I was playing a Cowboy Bebop game, I’d want to be Jet in the kitchen more than Spike on the mission. Spaceship Chef Action.”

    *points excitedly at the top screenshot*


    “I don’t want to be a hero, I want to be a cobbler carving wooden shoes in medieval Europe, and a museum tour guide in a rich fantasy world.”

    Yes. This. Me too.
    It’s HeroFatigue(tm).

    Some years ago I would’ve argued that doing the fantastic in games is the point; sheer escapism, the ability to do things you could not do in real-life. But eventually, saving the world becomes boring when it’s the new normal.

    I think that’s why I’ve taken so much to Stardew Valley. Just growing my cabbages over here…

  7. Eight Rooks says:

    Nah. It’s a game I wanted very much to like, but the old demo had some pretty mediocre writing, and this trailer doesn’t suggest anything’s changed significantly. Bar Oasis did the whole bartender sim/visual novel thing better on iOS already, and that was years ago – it wasn’t a great game and there was no sci-fi but it was much better written than this appears to be, and using the tilt sensor to pour drinks was more fun than clicking (going by the demo, at least). Nice idea, but I doubt I’m ever going anywhere near it.

  8. forddent says:

    This interests me in the way that damn near anything with a whiff of cyberpunk can interest me these days (man I remember the first time I read Neuromancer. What a lovely book. Gibson’s latest (The Peripheral) is also exceptional but in a completely different way). I’ll pick it up, I’m sure, because I like the idea of being a bartender.

  9. heinz says:

    Its really entertaining to play, and good a fresh. If you havent check out the demo they have, theres more good music in there too. The devs are from Venezuela, they sure can need any exposure!