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Friday, May 24, 2024

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Affogato makes the case for more witches owning coffee shops


I learned about Affogato in a PR email I didnt read properly, and I thought it was about running a coffee shop. It is, sort of. You run a coffee shop, handle the grinds and the brewing and the little shakers of sugar. But youre also a witch. And you can dive inside the minds of your customers and solve problems by fighting cleverly framed battles. So you run a coffee shop and then some.

The coffee shop stuff inevitably reminds me of Coffee Talk, and Affogato has captured the same evening setting, sparkling with all its urban promise. Its fun trying to make drinks properly, remembering the differences between them and mastering the intricacies of seasoning.

But the game properly comes alive in the battles. Affogato calls this system a sort of reverse tower-defense, and it calls to mind another reverse tower-defense game that I havent thought about in years: Anomaly: Warzone Earth. In Anomaly, you lead a convoy through a city laced with turrets and enemy rockets. Affogato zooms in a little: you play cards to place units upon a track that threads through a bunch of baddies. They attack you automatically and you attack them automatically. Early on – Ive only played the demo – its all about picking the route and defending yourself.

The track can be a bit daunting at first.

Picking the route is the part I love the best. Every now and then the track leads to a junction. The wrong path might just sent you off on a slightly longer journey, but it might dump you off the track to your doom. On top of that there are treasure chests you have to work out how to get to, and then the enemies themselves: some of them attack in all directions, but some of them only attack in the direction theyre facing. Can you get into a looping track around them in order to flank them and blow them to pieces before you can do any damage.

Cards help out. You earn the mana to play cards by defeating certain enemies, and then you might be able to conjure a tank character, say, who wont deal any damage but draws all the fire away from your damage-dealer. Early on this stuff is pretty simple, but Affogato promises to do bosses and whatnot with this track system, and as the cards pile up, so do your options, and the ways in which the game taxes you and forces you to think.

The further I go in the Affogato demo, the more it introduces new ideas. Its a clever game and uses its borrowings to create something that feels fresh. The demos on Steam now if youre interested. Its a game about running a coffee shop – and then some.

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