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Tavern Talk review - Legends and Lycanthropes

Welcome, weary traveler. Allow me to regale you my Tavern Talk review, on Nintendo Switch, and perchance you will pick it up for yourself.

Tavern Talk review - two characters sitting at the bar with drinks in front of them

Our Verdict

Tavern Talk is sure to soothe your appetite - this talking sim with a drink-making minigame runs excellently on Switch, and introduces a delightful cast of vibrant characters that eagerly order menu items to match every taste. No matter your build, you're sure to savor this gem of an indie game.

A seraph, a vampire, and a dwarf walk into a bar – then strike up a conversation and set off on a quest together to figure out the mystery of falling stars. What, were you expecting a cheesy joke? This is Tavern Talk, where fantasy meets cozy in a neat little bartending package.

Tavern Talk is an indie visual novel turned drink-making simulator – if you’re caught up on Honkai Star Rail and enjoyed the Vignettes In A Cup event, you’ll like this. It’s also very reminiscent of Coffee Talk, taking heavy influence from Toge Productions’ game while making a refreshing (haha) game with plenty of personality and enjoyability. To reference yet another piece of media, it’s reminiscent of the book Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree with its fantasy setting and running-a-business career choice.

In the land of Phesoa, you are an innkeeper, with your own tavern. Here, the locals – and not-so-locals on their travels – pop in to grab a beverage and perhaps a quest off your tantalizing board. First, you meet Fable, a quiet elf who yearns for greatness, and Caerlin (or Caer, or Lin for short – she doesn’t mind), a vukakin – that’s a humanoid wolf to you and me – who works as a beastslayer. They both want one of your finest drinks, so you get to work mixing the perfect potion.

From here, a delightful cast of characters unfolds, there’s a temperamental changeling, vampires, seraphs, and many more fantastical beings that you can meet yourself. I offer a special shout-out to Jade and her tiny pet tortoise that she brings to the bar, he really livens the place up. But my favorite character is probably the eccentric and often mystified vampire Kyle as I can’t help but appreciate a loveable scamp that tags along with heroes.

Tavern Talk review - two characters sitting at the bar with drinks in front of them

With each patron comes a new drink order. Each person has their own requirements but may ask you for your opinion on a choice of two types of drink. But there’s no OJ or soda as mixers here – potions of strength, charisma, dexterity, intelligence, and defense are your ingredients. You may need to make a dex-infused drink for Fable, then a beverage brewing with intelligence for Kyle the slightly senile vampire in one shift. It’s super easy to do, too – simply grab the potion, move it to the empty jug, and pour as much or as little as you need. When the recipe is complete, you can send it to the customer.

Though your menu grows occasionally, I find that my customers tend to order the same few drinks – if I see one more Swift Strike or Southern Brawler it may be too soon. Please, I’ve got charisma potions going to waste in the stock room. You can also add a few infusions like a phoenix chili or frozen pinecone to up the stats of a certain drink, but again, this is a lesser-chosen part of my menu. Maybe you can just add them to any drink, but I played it safe so my guests didn’t denounce me.

The good thing is, you can pin the recipe and draw it on the blackboard, or wing it. If you do futz it up and add too much strength to your dexterity tipple, you can feed any parts or all of your drink to the purple monster Andu and start again. Oh, Andu? He lives in a bucket on your bar. Pet him once in a while, yeah?

Tavern Talk review - the drink making screen showing a liquid being poured into a glass

Meanwhile, you learn rumors and tidbits of what’s going on outside your tavern and note them all down in your journal. Every so often when you’ve collected enough information, you can write it into a quest and pin it to your board where keen-eyed warriors will peruse the possible offerings and pick which they’d like to tackle – even Fable, who moves out of their comfort zone and becomes a certified adventurer.

Considering Tavern Talk has 2D characters on a screen, there’s a lot of personality packed into these friends. Through talking to them you learn of their pasts and their personalities, then help them on their way to their next quest. I especially like the diversity of different pronouns and preferences that you learn over time.

There’s also a very intriguing over-arching story going on involving arcanas, temples to Gaia, falling stars, and the primordial sea – but I won’t go into detail and shall let you unravel the carefully woven mystery for yourself.

In terms of how the game plays, it runs very well on Switch, which is something I’ve come to be pleasantly surprised by with indie titles. It loads fairly quickly, doesn’t freeze or crash, and has simple controls. It does start with the B button set to confirm, which is jarring for a Switch player, but you can change it in the settings right off the bat. You can also tweak the text speed and size, and opt for a larger journal layout. I’m glad these options exist on Switch as the initial text size is a little small.

Tavern Talk review - a map and explanation of the area

This game is all thanks to the Kickstarter campaign for Tavern Talk, which smashed through so many goals to ensure the game came to Switch. You can actually get a digital set of tarot cards featuring Tavern Talk’s characters, a 5E-compatible one-shot campaign, and battle maps for your Dungeons and Dragons campaigns. I may not be a DnD fan myself, but those tarot cards are very tempting.

Overall, Tavern Talk is just delightful. The art is great, the characters are lovely – even when they’re sassing me from across the bar – and it provides a really nice experience of rural life in a fantasy world. I was so excited about this game since I first discovered it as a little Kickstarter project, and now here it is, fully realized in my hands where I can pore over it for hours. Well done, Gentle Troll Entertainment, you’ve made a truly lovely game. Cheers!

If you’re a fellow fan of indie games, then we have some recommendations for you, and some of the best fantasy games on Switch and mobile for you to pore over, too.