Bar Oasis review: A hidden gem on the appstore
I stumbled upon Bar Oasis shortly after my first review on Marvel's Future Fight, where I was actually fixated on doing a review for the ever-so-popular Witcher 3. However, seeing how much has already been said about it, I reckon I would save both you and I from being driven to insanity by hearing the same things over and over. Thus, for now I'll confine myself to being one of the few people reviewing mobile games here. Aah, I feel so special already!
Just as well then, I had a damn good time with Bar Oasis.
Half minigame, half visual novel, hmm...
Created by Corners Studio, a small indie Korean developer, Bar Oasis is best described as half drink mixing game, and half visual novel, almost like a bartending equivalent of Phoenix Wright. Set in the titular Bar Oasis, you play as Vic, a young jobseeker who finds himself employed there as a bartender. The gameplay frequently switches between having you serve drinks, and partaking in dialogue sequences as Vic starts to become acquainted with the bar's regulars.
Complimentary Cocktail encyclopedia!
The drink-mixing itself is quite well done, making great use of the touch screen and the gyroscope sensor to adequately recreate the processes of serving these drinks, such as squeezing lemons, shaking cocktails and pouring drinks. You are graded on how well you perform in these minigames, which then determines how much money you make on each drink served. Don't worry - there are no consequences on the story based on how well you do, as the game's central focus is relaxation (which it oozes).There is such a wide variety of drinks and cocktails that even I, someone who barely ever goes drinking, became mildy obsessed with reading each and every description, which includes genuine recipes.
However, no matter how many different drinks they throw at us, the drink mixing does inevitably lose its novelty factor. Although instead of being bored, I eventually found myself just fading away into a zen-like state, relaxing to the soundtrack while being able to just subconsciously serve drinks without thinking too much.
I'm not just here for the drinks, I swear.
All of this doesn't matter however, because ultimately what kept me playing Bar Oasis wasn't the drink mixing, it was the visual novel side of the game. Just so you know, I have never played through any visual novels before, admittedly due to laziness. With Bar Oasis, however, I was hooked on the story within minutes, there's just something about the bar setting that I find so fascinating and unique when compared to other story-driven games.
The characters are also really well written - which is surprising, coming from an indie Korean studio. Every single one just exudes charisma and is likable in their own way. They no longer feel like generic NPCs. You will become attached to them. Never in gaming have I experienced anything more relaxing than serving drinks to my buddies in the bar, finding out what antics they've been getting up to.
All of this is accompanied by the lifelike sound effects and the infinitely memorable soundtrack (which is available for purchase separately, by the way).
Hooray for no in-app purchases!
Seriously, everyone should try this game. There's absolutely nothing in the way of in-app purchase shenanigans, and the games are very reasonably priced for their fairly lengthy stories (£1.50 for the first, £2.29 for the sequel). There's also the free, yes free, "pre-sequel", which bridges the gap between the first and second game through the perspective of a brand new character (Bar Oasis 1.5, as they call it). But I would highly recommend just missing your morning coffee for a day and buying the first game to familiarize yourself with the characters.
All I can really say is, as someone who doesn't enjoy going to bars, or drinking in general, this game somehow engrossed me more than any Telltale adventure game I've ever played. Granted, I don't play many story-driven games and I don't think I will for a long time - that is, until my phone finishes downloading Bar Oasis 2...