Zipp, you dirty rat. Release your game on Steam without mentioning it? I wrote about Zipp’s Café in October and hoped the proprietor would confirm a release date. Sniffing through the annals of Steam, a chance encounter reveals that it’s been out for a few weeks. Thanks for the notification, Steam.

Better late than never, and who doesn’t like a lukewarm coffee? I thought this coffee thing was a fad, so when The Wild Gentlemen branch off from Chicken Police with a coffee/talking sim, I was intrigued. Of course, we met Zipp in one of the best games of 2020. Now it’s his time to shine.

There’s no need for poultry deduction: you play Zipp, it’s his café, and in Zipp’s Café, you serve customers hot beverages and fake meat. For the uninitiated, Zipp was a badman, but went on the straight and set up shop. He’s a philosophical chap and ‘well-lived’, though he’s looking to start a new chapter in his life.

Zipp's Cafe Review - Quit bugging me
Quit bugging me. Source: Steam

His establishment attracts an array of clientele from both sides of the law, from PIs to gangsters and the residents of the Hive. Zipp’s Café is a place where animals and insects can share a space, brew, and a good old-fashioned chinwag. They’ll approach the counter for a chat and then place an order from the menu, perhaps with a couple of alterations.

Zipp’s Café is part visual novel, without dialogue trees, and part cooking simulator. Each of my visits were via the Steam Deck. Besides a couple of adjustments to the resolution to fit everything in, it ran and looked great. However, the steps aren’t intuitive, and working out how to use the machinary is unique.

The tutorial pop-ups mention that you’ll ‘get it’, and true to form, you do, but before that happens, you’re constantly switching to the menu to check what’s required for each coffee. Here’s me thinking it’s hot water, coffee, milk or creamer, plus sweetener, but consider adding pollen, meat substitutes and honey.

Zipp's Cafe Review - Meet thy maker
Meet thy maker. Source: Steam

Once you find your way around the coffee machine, the few customers who visit will ask for food. This is by far the easiest part. Without any timer and the ability to redo each order if you don’t have a suitable ranking, it’s possible to ace this all the way through. Even better, it’s fun doing it, too. Washing up is just plain… odd.

Gameplay is quite light, which is reflected in Zipp’s Café‘s price. Noir’s don’t need to be moodily lit – there are numerous conventions that the developers could have tackled, and in this case, there’s a switch to make the scenes black and white. While this adds a bit of nostalgia for Chicken Police, the artwork here looks better in colour.

Zipp’s Café is a short experience, but a pleasant one at that. You don’t need to have played Chicken Police: Paint it RED! however, it does add to the storytelling aspect as there are mentions of Wessler and where Mick fits into all of this. Honestly, I can’t recommend that game enough. 

As for Zipp’s Café, it’s a nice companion piece, and having played entirely on the Steam Deck, it’s a chill experience with some enjoyable mechanics. Eventually. There are two difficulty modes to select, though I’d encourage you to experience the normal mode as there are options to repeat a step if you or the customer aren’t satisfied with the results.

It fills that void until Chicken Police: Into the HIVE!and all for the price of a coffee. I bet nobody else has said that in a review. Pfft! First.