Sunny Cafe Review

Game: Sunny Cafe
Genre: Visual Novel, Simulation
System: Nintendo Switch (Also available on Steam (Windows and macOS), PS)
Developers|Publishers: GameNobility | eastasiasoft
Age Rating: US Teen | EU 12+
Price: US $14.99| UK £13.49 | EU €14,99
Release Date: March 27th, 2024

A review code was used, with many thanks to eastasiasoft

The description of Sunny Cafe starts with this:” In the rainy season, the point when we met. It’s you, letting the dark clouds around me dissipate and turn into sunny days. Therefore, this café is named after the sunny days that you like, it’s called Sunny Cafe!”

A character from Sunny Cafe appears at the entrance of a cafe, her hand raised in a gesture of arrival or greeting. The dialogue box refers to the sound of the bell on the cafe's glass door. Published on: LadiesGamers.
Kathy GU wanders into the Cafe, sheltering from the storm

Now, how sweet is that? Sunny Cafe is a visual novel based on that first love and all the uncertainties it brings. Of being in college and starting to think about the future and where it will lead you.

We meet Bowen Wu, the son of the Cafe owners, who is holding down the fort while his parents are taking a trip around the world and learning even more about coffee. Actually, Benedict WANG is the store manager, but Bowen takes his responsibility when he’s not studying for college very seriously. He encounters Kathy GU when she asks him how to get to the library. He can’t get her out of his mind, and then, one day, she walks into the café. Soaked to the bone by the heavy rain showers, and what better place to dry out than at the Sunny Cafe?

A digital illustration from Sunny Cafe showing a young woman with green eyes and long hair, tipping her wide-brimmed hat while looking at a phone displaying fireworks and a social media profile. Dialogue text indicates a character's surprise at seeing Bella Chen's personal page. Published on: LadiesGamers
Bella CHEN is on social media and can give the Cafe more clients

We meet other characters, like Bella CHEN, who can do social marketing to get more crowds into the Sunny Cafe. And Alvin ZHANG, who always seems to be up for some mischief. And Bowens’ sister, as well as Uncle Zhang. How will relationships form, and what does the future have in store for these young people?

In-game screenshot from Sunny Cafe featuring two male characters in a coffee shop. The character in the foreground appears troubled or thoughtful while the waiter in the background has a friendly smile. A dialogue box hints at a sentimental moment that could bring tears. Published on: LadiesGamers.
Benedict and Alvin are sparring together.

Sweet, though it may be, it wasn’t romance that attracted me to give Sunny Cafe a try. It was the promise of learning about coffee culture and making the right coffee for the right customer.

The Romance Part

Fitting to a visual novel, Sunny Cafe is text-heavy. But in saying that, I mean very text-heavy. It feels as if the translation into English has been made extra descriptive. No cutting corners here; this is writing as if you are reading a book where you have to imagine things for yourself, as there are no visuals in the book. For example, this text is from the game:

“The afterglow of the setting sun falls on Bowen WU’s body, illuminating his eyelashes with the colour of glittering golden dust, through the veil of sunlight his pitch dark eyes take on a lighter shade of grey.”

A scene from Sunny Cafe depicting a cheerful female character in a blue and white outfit, sporting a hat and making a confident gesture. She stands in the warmly lit interior of a cafe, with evening light casting a golden hue. The dialogue box describes the setting sun's glow. Published on: LadiesGamers.

Beautifully put, right? Even though it shows the care that’s put into the translation, you’d expect this is from a scene where romance hangs heavily in the air, but it isn’t. It’s just a moment when a customer comes in, although I should add it’s a girl, but not the girl he is besotted with. Because of that, the descriptive words had less impact when it did matter.

I should add that maybe this is the custom in the original language, but I don’t know enough about Chinese to confirm that. And sadly, there were still some bad translations in the text.

The Coffee Part

Making coffee consists of several mini-games: determining the right beans based on the flavour you want, grinding the beans to the right coarseness, and pouring the water just right in the filter. As the story progresses, you see items light up in the background, and clicking on them shows a little knowledge about that particular item.

An instructional poster from Sunny Cafe explaining the components of a French Press. The illustration is detailed and beginner-friendly, featuring a cute, white character holding a cup of coffee. Published on: LadiesGamers.
This is a French Press. I learned something there, right?

It’s a nice idea to teach us like this; the mini-games are fun to do, and I had no idea about all the particulars of coffee beans. Although, I was so glad the screen responded to touch, as I just couldn’t get a flowing circular moment with just the joystick.

An interactive brewing method tutorial from Sunny Cafe, showing a chibi-style character with black hair enjoying a cup of coffee. Instructions for a petal-shaped filter pour-over are displayed on-screen with visual cues for the brewing process. Published on: LadiesGamers.
Pouring in a petal-shaped filter isn’t easy!

Having said that, I feel it’s a missed chance to not give this part of the game more screenplay. I had hoped that Sunny Cafe would have a management part, trying to serve the right coffee tailored to client’s wishes and doing the best job I could. Instead, making coffee was done sporadically and felt more like ‘painting by numbers’.

Graphics, Sounds, Controls and More

Sunny Cafe has been ported well to the Switch, as it was available on Steam for a couple of years already. The controls work well, and as I mentioned, I was thankful that the touch screen allowed me to pour the coffee water in a controlled way.

Graphically the game is clean-looking and stylized, the chibi forms of the characters that pop up from time to time look good. There are jazzy tunes in the background and the sounds of the rain or the Cafe. Everything is voice-acted in Chinese, and there is no English voice version available.

nterior view of a cafe in Sunny Cafe with empty speech boxes offering dialogue choices over the counter. The background shows coffee machines and a blackboard menu with chalk-written items in Chinese. Published on: LadiesGamers.
Deep questions about dreams and careers

Overall, the storyline was sweet about young first love, though it did touch on some deeper topics, like knowing at a young age what goals you want to achieve in life. And that working hard is something every college student should strive for. I did notice a couple of topics that were touched on that seemed strange in the context, like Kathy Gu being overly open to a young man she had just met about her period. Not that I think we shouldn’t talk about things like that, but it just didn’t fit in.

Conclusion for Sunny Cafe

Sunny Cafe is a sweet story of young love, touching on some deeper topics that mirror the way adolescents view life’s goals. It strives to include knowledge about making coffee in a very charming and graphically beautiful way. I would have liked this part to get more attention, combining the visual novel part with a management part for serving the customers the right coffee. But that may just be my personal preference.

The visual novel tells the story in very descriptive and flowery wording but still has some translation errors, as well. Graphically Sunny Cafe looks nice and crisp, and it reads like a nice book.

Final Verdict: I Like ItI like it

 

 

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