Caffeine will show you the way. Believe in caffeine. Put your trust in caffeine. Those are just a selection of the mantras picked up from playing Caffeine: Victoria’s Legacy, a steampunk visual novel with a Victorian setting and a passion for coffee. Aside from being massively coffee oriented though, is there an interesting story brewing at the heart of Caffeine: Victoria’s Legacy too? Or will it instead leave a bitter taste that takes a latte getting rid of?
The story begins with the protagonist of Caffeine: Victoria’s Legacy, Taka Knight, searching for his mother who disappeared many years before. The fallout of being abandoned affected both Taka and his father negatively, but he still possesses fond memories of the family enjoying life beforehand. Following the only clue regarding his mother’s whereabouts, he boards a flight in the hope of finding her. There doesn’t appear to be anything extraordinary about the journey Taka is embarking upon, until the plane crashes. That’s when things get a little bit weird.
Awakened to the sight of a young lady, Taka is rather confused by the surroundings, which contain items from a bygone era. The person tending to his needs, Alice, doesn’t understand many of the references he makes to modern culture either. And then he realises the place he’s wound up in is a coffee shop based in a city named Victoria. The best moments of his childhood all seemed to involve this exact coffee shop, Taka Coffee House, which was owned by his parents. It’s all very strange. Even more bizarrely though, the entire economy of Victoria revolves around caffeine and coffee is king.
You see, caffeine is akin to magic in this adventure and it’s used by the locals for duelling as well as healing. As such, the likes of baristas and cuppers – essentially coffee tasters – are treated as the pinnacles of society. Genuinely, there’s an obsession going on where coffee is concerned in this alternate reality Victorian city; so much so that you’ll potentially learn new things along the way too. There’s actually a wonderful section which delves into the art of brewing, using CGs accompanied by a piece of piano music; it’s brilliantly done.
All the coffee talk becomes quite exhausting however, with the exciting use of caffeine for duels rarely seen in action. Fortunately the romantic options provide a good distraction as there are four potential suitors to win over. Alice is the kind-hearted type; Oceane is the moody and no-nonsense kind of girl; Eliza is the shy and unassuming one with an air of elegance; and Mel is the charming dreamer full of ambition. Whether you wish to play it cool, get flirty, or act all coy is mostly up to you as there are many junctures for you to choose responses.
Through general dialogue and picking pertinent conversation choices, you’ll uncover great depth to the characters; especially if you focus on a particular one instead of attempting to form some kind of harem. There’s real longevity to be had by following different routes, which is great when a single playthrough could easily last over five hours. I love the inclusion of multiple endings and the possibility to achieve bad endings as well as happy ones – choices do matter – but my gosh is it tricky to achieve many of them.
Despite being left unexplained as a mechanic, Caffeine: Victoria’s Legacy starts adding hearts to the names of your love interest and these appear affected by your choices. Figuring out which options lead to romantic success and failure isn’t obvious, meaning you may struggle to reach the conclusion you’re really looking for. What makes things slightly frustrating during each attempt is that the feature to skip text you’ve already seen does not function properly. It gets pretty boring recreating the same encounters and interactions that are tied to almost every ending.
On the visual front, Caffeine: Victoria’s Legacy is full of excellent CGs that fit the steampunk theme and really capture the magic of a decent cup of coffee. The characters are befitting of their environments too, with appropriate outfits to suit their place in society. In terms of audio, the BGM is absolutely spot on and there’s a decent range of musical delights. The voiceovers in place are also a welcome addition as they help to convey the personalities. The only downside is that the voiced parts are sporadic and so a lot of the dialogue is just text-based.
Caffeine: Victoria’s Legacy is a strange one, mainly because the adventure begins with a very clear goal in mind and then swiftly goes off on tangents. The caffeine obsessed city throws up some interesting information about coffee, while charming you through the presence of potential romance. It’s funny, sad, and occasionally a bit long-winded where coffee is involved. Most importantly though, there’s genuine opportunity for multiple playthroughs, which would be much better if you didn’t have to cover old ground every time.
If you can bear the insane amount of coffee talk, Caffeine: Victoria’s Legacy is probably worth investing in; if only for the romantic potential and the chance to appreciate the excellent audio.
Caffeine: Victoria’s Legacy is on the Xbox Store
- Charming characters and setting
- Choices matter with plenty of different romantic routes
- Excellent audio
- Coffee overload
- Skip feature doesn't work efficiently
- Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Ratalaika Games
- Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch
- Version reviewed - Xbox Series X
- Release date - 30 September 2022
- Launch price from - £14.99