VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender is a very specific game. It doesn’t have high-intense action or varied environments. Instead, it’s a very dense narrative-driven experience with a myriad of colorful characters and techno style music designed around an 8-bit world. It requires a lot of reading and the occasion mixing of drinks, and it does it well. Creating a strong story jam-packed with lonely characters with personal problems seeking someone trusting to talk things through.

Saving the World One Drink at a Time

Players take control of Jill, a bartender for a dive bar called Valhalla. The smell of urine is constantly a theme here but most don’t care since the drinks are mostly cheap. People from all walks of life wonder inside, editors from newspapers to acclaimed streamers. All of them with problems and some yearning for someone to listen to them.

All the characters have their own personality and story. Everyone has something they want to talk about and sometimes they need a drink to build that trust. Jill is more than welcome to aid in that desire. With drinks ranging from sweet to bitter and from heavily alcoholic to virgin.

Jill is also a character within this story. Her own narrative begins to slip through the cracks as she expresses her opinions, either internally or verbally, about what her customers are saying. Some of these people are her friends, either from before the game started or as the game progresses. With Jill growing as changing as much as the characters within the story.

It’s a brilliantly crafted story that deals with the personal issues living in this cyberpunk world. These characters helps showcase what you cannot see, from the different types of police to robotic companions. You don’t get to see it but the character’s paint a vivid picture of what lies beyond those bar doors.

Another?

The gameplay of VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender is separated into 2 categories, earning money to pay bills and stuff and mixing drinks. The drink orders are mostly straight forward, with specific requests or general flavors or desires conveyed by the customer. Usually, the order is cryptic but these are rare and those who pay attention to the character’s personality will be able to figure out what they want easily.

Outside from mixing drinks, Jill will need to pay bills and reduce her stuff with stuff. After each shift, you’re given a report of your performance and paid accordingly. Managing your finances isn’t that hard as long as you perform well but occasionally Jill will need something to reduce her stress. If you fail to purchase a specific item Jill ask for or pay a bill Jill’s stress increases and her performance slips, forgetting orders or not paying attention.

There’s no real “Game Over” screen and the story generally progresses the same way regardless of how you perform. But there are endings linked to how your customers view you.

An 8-Bit World

The graphical style of VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender follows that alluring 8-bit style. It’s visually appealing but the animation is lacking. The characters have limited movement but they’re all well-designed. Each one has been modeled with specific features to match their personalities.

The musical score is also wonderful. It all has that cyberpunk feel to it and complements the overall world. Everything within VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender blends well together and complements everything within the entire game.

Another Round?

VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender isn’t for everyone. It requires a lot of reading and teases a large open world but limits the player to 2 specific locations. Instead, you’ll be locked into talking about what Donovan treats his employees or Sei surviving what could’ve been a suicide mission. And that’s okay, because the writing is so strong and the characters are interesting. VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender doesn’t try to be more than it is and successfully delivers on providing a story that everyone should experience at least once.

VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Review
Positives
  • Incredible Characters
  • Strong Narrative
  • Great Musical Score
Negatives
  • Lack of Animation
  • Limited Areas to See
9Overall Score
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)
8.1

About The Author

Adam S
Sr.Staff Writer

Adam is a Senior Staff Writer for GamerAssaultWeekly with over 5 years of experience in writing and is completely obsessed with video games. He holds a BA from Brooklyn College and lives in NY.