PAX EAST 2019 | "N1RV Ann-A"
Sukeban Games changed the way you can craft visual novels with 2016’s VA-11 HALL-A, a title so jaw-droppingly good that I just had to give it my Game of the Year. Naturally, such an experience would be worth revisiting, as evident by the developers’ upcoming follow-up N1RV Ann-A. While the setting and cast may be changing, its spirit and attitude is just as welcoming as before.
Demoed at the Ysbryd Games booth at PAX East, I was given the chance to experience a daily routine with its bartender Sam. Taking place in an upscale bar on the island of Saint Alicia, the single mother finds herself making contact with a plethora of interesting customers. My customer that day was Parka, a comic artist with a sweet tooth and a lack of alcoholic experience. After mixing some drinks (this time actual ones and not faux booze like in VA-11 HALL-A), you find out that Parka’s works are…very questionable content-wise.
The guys at Sukeban Games don't hold back when it comes to the dialogue spoken by the characters. However, when you hear Parka talk about such disturbing story elements and the like, Sam takes it all in stride, with both the care and concern that a bartender such as her should have. There’s no judgement, no guilt-tripping, and nary a sign of scorn in her attitude. (She does tell Parka not to curse, though, so she has some standards of proper speaking etiquette.) Despite the more eyebrow-raising conversations, the tone N1RV Ann-a delivers is one filled with warm humor and strong understanding.
Like the previous game, mixing drinks is how you keep the conversation going. Do it right, and you’ll learn more about your customers. Mix them wrong, and you might just find yourself never seeing that person across the bar ever again. It’s this element that made VA-11 HALL-A a unique experience, and it is just as fun as before. There’s also a new mechanic where you wave your mouse around to shake & mix the drinks, adding another level of interactivity. It’s a small addition, but a cool one nonetheless.
N1RV Ann-A is currently early into development, with a planned 2020 release on PC, PS4, and Nintendo Switch. Considering what Sukeban Games accomplished before, you can bet that this will be a game worthy of tipping your bartender for.