Tavern Talk Review – I’ll Drink To That

I’ve only played D&D a few times in my life. The first time I played, I accidentally killed an entire village, and last time, I saved the world. It was hard work, being an adventurer. Clearly, things didn’t always go according to plan. I much preferred the beginning of the sessions, sitting down at the bar and collecting my quest from the mysterious bartender who always knew what was going on. I wondered, what if that were me on the other side? Finally, in Gentle Troll Entertainment’s visual novel Tavern Talk, I got to find out.

Tavern Talk begins with a beautiful, laugh-out-loud opening, introducing you as the Inkeeper, and your bar. With pretty, cozy, bard-like music, the tone is set instantly and carries on throughout the rest of the game. You get your first patron of the day, a regular, and mix them their drink. You get to know them and what they’re up to and wish them farewell. Then the next patron comes, and such is your life.

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A tavern to call home

You as the Inkeeper have a fixed way of speaking, and simple dialogue options here and there allow you to be kinder or indifferent. I’ve played plenty of games where I can’t stand the voice, tone, and personality of my character. But this one shines. The Inkeeper’s dialogue, and the rest of the writing in general, constantly flowed in a humorous and poetic way.

Overall, Tavern Talk’s mechanics are quite simple. You have a journal to keep track of any rumors you find, quests you’ve put together, recipes you’ve come across, and patrons you’ve come to know. There are more tabs to look through, but these are the ones you’ll likely use the most.

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Patrons patroning

Talking to your patrons uncovers rumors, and once you have three rumors that go together, you’re able to turn that into a full quest at the end of the day by piecing them together. It’s easy to tell which rumors match since they’re written on notes with identical designs. I do wish it were a little less obvious so I could feel like I was putting them together on my own.

Your main role as Inkeeper, other than compiling quests for people, is mixing their drinks. This is also how you make your decisions. When patrons go on their quests, they’ll give you two drink options. Which drink you mix for a quest will dictate how that quest ends. Mixing drinks is easy enough—just see which boost your patron wants and find a recipe that follows their request. On one hand, it gets pretty repetitive, but on another, it’s fun trying to memorize which potions form which drinks.

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Mix a few drinks!

Tavern Talk’s art is absolutely gorgeous. The tavern’s atmosphere thrives with how everything moves in a constant, pleasant breeze. The dust particles, the hanging plants, and the patrons’ accessories, just to name a few examples. The character art, despite them all being unique, fits in with the atmosphere too.

Speaking of, I could talk about Tavern Talk’s characters for years. There are so many to meet, each with booming personalities and gorgeous designs that fit them almost too well. Getting to know these characters one by one, falling in love with them, and watching as these strangers come together and forge relationships with one another was amazing. It was heartwarming, in a way, how excited I got seeing familiar faces show up. They each had a gorgeous background tune that would play alongside them. The music throughout the game is memorable and fits right in.

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Gather rumors!

At first, there isn’t much plot, but eventually, a story begins to unfold. It’s engaging until the very end and allows you to learn more about yourself and your past, all while watching this story’s true main character stand tall and become the hero this world needed all along.

Besides wishing the rumors mechanic was a little more engaging, I also wish the save files were more discernible. As someone who likes to save every two seconds, especially in decision-making games, I found it difficult to keep track of what each save slot would load. They’re aesthetically pretty, but they only name the ACT you’re in and the chapter title. There was no way for me to change the name, leave a note, or see a picture of where I was, which made things frustrating when trying to go back. I had to jot down reminders on some sticky notes instead.

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Oh, the people you’ll meet…

One more thing that stood out to me was the awkwardness of two people coming into the bar to tell the story of their adventures, while patrons who were already there sat in silence, staring me down. I wish they’d inject their own opinions a few times throughout the conversation, but I’m glad they were there at all.

There’s something special about being the nosy bartender who’s gathering rumors and throwing out quests, watching the patrons you’ve come to know and love take on missions and succeed, them befriending each other on the way, or being an ear for them when they’ve failed and don’t know how to continue on. I haven’t played Coffee Talk or read Legends and Lattes, so outside of my limited D&D games, I’m experiencing this genre for the first time with Tavern Talk. And honestly? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Inanna reviewed Tavern Talk on PC with a review code.

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