Demo Review: EDDA Café

Demo Review: EDDA Café

Made by developer Pepapen for Valentine’s VN Jam 2021, EDDA Café is a tale of guilt, regret, loss, and just a little bit of magic. After losing someone dear to her, Mina is distraught and aimless. After a chance encounter with a mysterious barista, the coffee of the mystical EDDA Cafe may be her second chance. What, however, will she do with it?

This first two parts of this game are currently available, with the third part set to be released at some undetermined time in the future. A review was requested for this game through the VN Game Den review request form.

This short story is, on the surface, a darling little game. The art has a soft, almost round quality without feeling cartoony or childish. Desaturated backgrounds with a limited color palate of pink and blue-gray create a wash of set pieces that are neutral without being boring. These set a great stage for sprite work in richer jewel tones, lending the visuals a sort of earthy pastel feel. Combined with some gentle special effects and a simple UI, the whole things has a dreamy wintertime quality to it.

The characters themselves have fun designs and are very expressive as they flit about the stage. The costuming choice of simple skirts and blouses creates a timelessness to everything. This could be taking place any winter, any time—past, present, or future. This only enhances that overall ethereal quality.

It is still very rough around the edges, though, even being technically a demo/partial game. The writing is perfectly lovely with a nice little lilt to it and an excellent job of creating just the right amount of tension. But it does suffer from some of the more obvious hallmarks of being written by someone for whom English might not be a first language. It’s definitely not one of the more egregious examples I’ve personally encountered, but it would benefit from another editing pass.

The use of voice work was a little underwhelming, as well. The performances themselves were alright, but they could have benefited from some directorial guidance. The audio quality, more than anything, is what makes it more of a detraction than a boon. I also don’t feel they made the best choices on the actual implementation of partial voice (i.e., what lines are spoken when by whom), and they might have been better off leaving it out until they had more time to fully realize its potential.

The game makes up for any minor, fixable failings with a real depth and richness to it. Alongside the cute is an inescapable melancholy. It has this storybook quality on top, but underneath are some very difficult emotions with extremely high stakes for our main character. It plays a little with the nature of magic in a modern setting, and I can see the potential to use that as a springboard into discussions of grief in the as-of-yet unfinished portion of the game.

Short and sweet, EDDA Café has a lot of heart in its compact package. When it’s complete, it has the potential to be something very special and heartfelt, and a wonderful reading experience.

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