“VA-11 HALL-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action” (also known simply as Valhalla or VA-11 HALL-A) will be ported to the PS4 and Switch consoles in the first quarter of 2019. Alongside this, the sequel “N1RV ANN-A” has also been announced for 2020.

   This isn’t the first system hop the game has done, however. After its original release on Windows, OS X, and Linux back on June 21, 2016 several delays (and a couple years) later. It also was ported to the PlayStation Vita by the developer Wolf Games and published by Limited Run Games on Nov. 14, 2017 in North America.  

   A bartending simulation video game, “VA-11 HALL-A” has several elements of cyberpunk and anime-inspired visuals behind it. It was originally developed for the Cyberpunk Game Jam of 2014, but the Venezuelan studio Sukeban Games enjoyed the game to the extent that they decided to make it into a full game.

   The game is exactly as the title implied: a cyberpunk bartender action, though it combines with a visual novel that takes place in a dystopia. True to its name, a majority of the story takes place in the dive bar known as VA-11 HALL-A in a place known as Glitch City where the protagonist, Jill, is a bartender.

   Jill, despite receiving an offer to work at a research institute, found herself more suited to the life that we now have in her hands. Described by the website for the game itself, “VA-11 HALL-A” is a game set in the year 207X and acts as “a booze ‘em up about waifus, technology, and post-dystopia life.”

   It’s a world where corporations are the overlord, human life has nanomachines throughout that are designed to specifically oppress them and the force to keep the peace is known as White Knights that are corrupt on a base level.

   Despite all of this, the bar attracts people of interesting origins, bringing life to such a dreary future.

   The primary focus of the game is to prepare drinks for the patrons of the bar. By following their requests (or maybe adding a bit of extra alcohol in), the story branches and dialogue could change. There are no active dialogue branches; every piece of information learned is by making drink mixes for the clients.

   While creating and serving the cocktails and other beverages, Jill (and by extension, the player) learns about that patron’s life and also of their conditions in this dystopian society.

   Drinks can be made with five ingredients only and mistakes are allowed to be made, which results in no tension when you make a mistake. However, you get more tips for items outside of work if the order is done perfectly. Along with that, all the ingredients themselves are fictional even if some concoctions are named and taken from the real world.

   In turn with this, sometimes those that come to the bar will ask for a specific drink or type while truly wanting something else. Making sure Jill’s happy at home will assist the player when doing bartending in order to be more attuned with the customer’s actual wants.

   There’s also a way of adding more dialogue, which comes from adding a little more alcohol or serving the patron more in order to get more information out of them.

   The entirety of “VA-11 HALL-A” isn’t about the bartending and subsequent drinking, however. If deemed necessary, the player can talk to the customer instead of fuelling their alcoholism.

   Along with this, as a way to keep the immersion of the game up, the player gets a book of recipes for drinks they can create.

   Overall, “VA-11 HALL-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action” is a game that can bring someone back to old PC-98 style games while blasting someone right into the future. With so many variables, this game feels like it can stay entertaining for several hours.

Erika Brandenburg
Arts and Entertainment Editor

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