Affogato has been the strangest strategy role-playing game I have ever played. I mean that in as positive a light as I can muster. I went into it expecting a run-of-the-mill strategy JRPG with some dazzling graphics (which it certainly has!), and I have emerged out the other side of this rabbit hole with renewed vigour for JRPG and all things barista.
Affogato is a JRPG that has you piloting the titular character Affogato. A “good” witch who runs a barista with her quirky yet evil demon helper Mephista. You spend your days prepping coffees and teas for customers all to keep your coffee shop the Witchery (there are a lot of on-the-nose names here so bear with me!). With every customer, a new quest or exposition scene is presented to you. You are given quests and tasks by customers, rival witches and your demon. You face off against other demons and other witches using your witch cards in a designated arena, and help to stem the tide of demonic invasion!
Magenta is always better than Red
The art style of Affogato is very quaint and not too over the top. It honestly feels like you are in a coffee shop through the gentle lighting and ambient background. Furthermore, the voice acting was stellar. New customers present new dialogue and some interesting story beats. One of my favorite interactions was with a timid new customer called Lindsay who could barely get a word in. After some awkward back and forth I eventually coaxed her into ordering a mocha. It’s little charming moments like these that really immersed me in the role-playing of Affogato. Not only that, but after closing you can roam the streets ordering food, conversing with random npcs and more! Every day I had somewhere to go, something to do and someone to battle.
Each day involves opening the Witchery in the morning, fulfilling customer orders, talking with people and then at night you close down. It is at night where you are presented with more freedom and the magical side of the game. Here is where you face down enemies in the aforementioned arena. At first, I thought these arena battles with my witch cards were the primary focus of the game, but the further I delved into Affogato the less interested in these battles I became. Yes, they do have very dazzling graphics and lighting which I have come to accept in JRPGs but the gameplay itself grew incredibly stale.
On the other hand, witch cards being granted in the RPG beats were a nice tie-in. Overall this did encourage me to try out some new strategies as I progressed. But it was never the primary hook for me.
One Mocha to Go
Affogato is a surprisingly enjoyable JRPG. Much of what you’ll experience hits all the necessary beats for an average JRPG. But that’s not what’s going to sell you on Affogato. Funny enough, the coffee brewing and customer interactions is what really sold me on Affogato. I believe it is this charming and immersive game loop that is going to make Affogato a fine brew for any coffee-loving JRPG enthusiast!
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