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Visual Novel / VA-11 HALL-A

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Welcome to Valhalla.

Time to mix drinks and change lives.
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The year is 207X, and Glitch City is a cybernetic dystopia where rich corporations freely abuse the increasingly-desperate proletariat, violence rages unchecked in the streets and the corrupt White Knights freely oppress those they are meant to protect, even using infectious nanomachines to ensure that the people remain downtrodden. This, however, is not that story.

You are Jill, a woman trying to make ends meet in dystopia working as a bartender at the VA-11 building's Hall-A, more commonly known as Valhalla. It may be a seedy dive bar in a bad neighborhood, but despite (or because of) that, it manages to draw the most interesting patrons. Quench their thirst and you can hear their stories, make new friends and most importantly, make your rent for the month.

VA-11 HALL-A: Cyberpunk Bartending Action is a Visual Novel developed by Venezuelan developer Sukeban Games, which describes itself as "a booze 'em up about waifus, and post-dystopia life." It takes heavy inspiration from old PC-98 games, with a chiptune soundtrack and a distinctly retro anime art style. In lieu of dialogue choices, Jill must mix the correct drinks for her clients. What she serves them can change the conversation; adding more alcohol to get the client hammered may get juicier stories, or it may just make them leave if they're a lightweight. The goal is to make enough money to pay your various utilities, and of course, better service means a bigger paycheck. Despite the game's dark cyberpunk setting, its tone is mostly comedic with colorful characters and plenty of (sometimes crude) jokes, but also has its share of emotional moments and dark stories that remind the player what kind of place they live in.

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The game was released for PC on June 21, 2016, with Play Station Vita and iPad being planned for release later in 2017. Ports to the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch are planned for 2019.

It has now been announced that the next game in the series, N1RV Ann-A, is in development and will be released within 2020.


VA-11 HALL-A provides examples of:

  • Absurd Phobia: The Lilim have their fears programmed completely at random. Dorothy, in particular, has a fear of dogs and chinchillas. The latter is especially notable as Jill and Dorothy both note that chinchillas are extinct in their time.
  • Accidental Innuendo: Invoked when the Playful Hacker Alma accidentally turns Dorothy on when she describes hacking to Jill.
  • A Tankard of Moose Urine: Promo Drinks tend to have been made to promote or memorialize something without any eye as to the actual flavor, and as such tend to be seriously nasty.
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  • Apocalypse How: Years before the game's story, the Great Earthquake happened that collapsed a good chunk of a surface, and Australia is... complicated.
  • The Bartender: Obviously the main premise of the game is being this to the colorful cast of people that stream in and out. Expanded upon when it turns out that Jill has some serious issues of her own, to the point where Alma even makes the two of them switch roles to listen to Jill's own problems.
  • Benevolent Boss: Dana is this in spades, having rescued Gillian from whatever trouble he was in and giving him a home and a job, and generally making sure to look after her employees while being nothing but understanding. It's no wonder why Jill has a huge crush on her.
  • Body Backup Drive: The Lilim have their consciousness backed up on a server and are automatically transferred to a new body. As a result, the Lilim have a hard time conceptualizing mortality, although according to Dorothy they do fear "death."
  • The Cameo: The game throws several references at Read Only Memories, but a series of cameos from TOMCAT, Jess, and Lexi confirm that the games either take place in the same setting, or at least one is canon to the other, besides Dana's cameo in ROM. Going beyond that, in said cameo, Dana tells the player of a drink that can be served in this game. Serving the Flaming Moai to Alma, Stella and any other customer will make the aforementioned show up.
    • Lexi comes over to catch up with Dana, revealing she is now retired from the Neo-SF police force and giving a bit more backstory for Dana.
    • TOMCAT is following the trail of Alice_Rabbit.
    • Jess discusses the difference between hybrids and cat boomers with Jill.
    • You can also buy a toy version of Turing at one point.
  • Crapsack World: Glitch City, obviously. While corporations are given carte blanche to use the population as guinea pigs and the tyrannical mayor QUINCY causes suffering with his every whim, food shortages are commonplace, hyperinflation has drastically increased commodities' prices, many university graduates moving to other places that marked its brain drain, and the streets are home to large amounts of violence, either from thugs and gangs or the corrupt White Knights. Although Glitch City is stated to be especially bad, Dana states that Panama is in an even worse state.
    • The developers are from Venezuela, a country where things like food riots and street violence have become commonplace ever since the nation's economy collapsed, and drew much of their inspiration from their surroundings.
    • Crapsack Only by Comparison: Though it is implied that only Glitch City is much worse off state than other places, which has pretty decent living standards that attracted discontent Glitch inhabitants, except Panama. (Apparently piracy is nothing to mess around with.)
  • Cyberpunk: The main aesthetic of the game; Ridiculously Human Robots are almost fully integrated into human society, many people have cybernetic implants or replacements, and nanomachines can do anything from change the color of your walls to lethally suppress riots.
  • Dirty Cop: The White Knights, who suppress any "crime" with brutal lethality and are prone to robbing and beating up ordinary citizens for little to no reason. Sei, a client and White Knight, is an exception and one of the most pure-hearted characters in the game, but even she acknowledges that their bad reputation is completely justified. In Chapter 2 the White Knights are disbanded after a massive leak links them to various criminal groups, and mass lynchings of White Knights occur in the streets.
  • Do Well, but Not Perfect: There are a number of times that giving something other than what the customer asked leads to either completely different dialogue or, in one case, a scene you wouldn't get if you gave the drink they asked for. That said, you still get the flawless customer service bonus in these cases and payment for the drinks (barring giving Ingram sweet drinks for the latter), so you aren't punished for it.
  • Drink Order: Every client has preferences, be it for certain styles of drink or a specific favorite. Making note of what each of them like can help the player choose a more appropriate drink than what they just ordered at key moments.
  • Easter Egg: An early Augmented Eye post has a message in binary, decoding it reads "THE RETRIBUTION IS CO" (sic).
    Jill: Those purple numbers...
  • Everyone Is Bi: It may be a cyberpunk dystopia, but the general public at least seems a lot more accepting of homosexuality with many characters openly flirting or crushing on people of the same sex. Jill herself is bisexual, having had boyfriends and at least one girlfriend, and currently has an obvious crush on her female boss and can outright admit to either Dana or Anna that she'd have sex with Alma if given the chance.
    • Homosexuality still however has a stigma attached to it by older people however, as it's said Lenore was disowned by her mother for being gay simply because her high-society friends didn't agree with the thought of it.
  • Fantastic Arousal: Dorothy notes that if someone recorded a detailed account of realistic hacking in a sexy voice, the Lilim would make them a millionaire.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: One of the few completely non-alcoholic drink options, looks exactly like a Beer, but it won't get you drunk.
    • 'PG-rated shows' favorite Beer ersatz since 2040.'
  • Future Food Is Artificial: Many alcoholic drinks, especially Beer, are cocktails of edible chemicals rather than brewed from grains and/or fruits.
  • Gargle Blaster: The Zen Star, which is composed of four of every ingredient mixed together. It's considered absolutely revolting as a drink. This seems to be the case with any "Manly" drink.
    • There's also the Fringe Weaver, which is 'like drinking ethylic alcohol with a spoonful of sugar.'
  • Heroic BSoD: Jill goes into one in Chapter 2 after learning that her ex-girlfriend is dead.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Averted, as explained by Alma. The explanation left Dorothy a steaming, aroused pile of bolts, though.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Dorothy. Dana and Jill even admit that although she's a sex worker, she's so earnest and cheerful about what she does that it's hard not to root for her.
  • Imageboards: Jill can browse Danger/u/ in her room, which is essentially 4chan but with a majority female userbase.
    • This is how Gaby finds you at VA-11 Hall-A as a bartender
  • Interface Screw: Whenever Streaming-Chan appears, there are waves of Nico Nico Douga text going across her face. Her theme song also overrides any jukebox music you've chosen for its duration.
    • Anna Graem changes the textures for the bartending interface when she says she claims to interact with the environment.
  • Invisible to Normals: Anna Graem is revealed to be completely invisible to everyone else but Jill.
  • In Vino Veritas: Naturally, most of the customers get more talkative and/or frank when drunk.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Art von Delay is one to George from Seinfeld.
  • Loser Protagonist: Downplayed with Jill, who traded a fulfilling life, a steady partner, and good future prospects for "freedom". For Jill, this translated to three years of living alone in a shitty apartment, within which she kills time drinking beer, browsing imageboards, mulling on her sexual frustrations, and holding conversations with her cat. In general, she has very little in the way of a social life beyond her work. Her boss and some of her clients-turned-friends help her get better over the course of the game.
  • The Lost Lenore: Literally, as Jill's ex-girlfriend's name is Lenore and Jill hasn't gotten over the relationship. Becomes even more literal after she dies and Jill has a breakdown.
  • Multiple Endings: In addition to the good ending achieved by paying your rent, there are various "endings" for different characters:
    • Good Ending: Obtained by paying your rent. Jill and Dana go on a vacation to Panama.
    • Bad Ending: Obtained by failing to pay your rent. Jill is evicted from her apartment and moves in with Alma, who cuddles her to sleep every night. The achievement received for it is titled Cozy Hell
    • *Kira* Miki's Ending: Obtained by getting *Kira* Miki drunk the first time she's at the bar and getting her orders right, and giving her the Mulan Tea at some point. Jill, Stella, and Sei attend one of *Kira* Miki's concerts, and *Kira* Miki dedicates a song to Jill. Sei also mentions that Stella is going to get Sei a job after her injuries are done healing.
    • Dorothy's Ending: Obtained by giving Dorothy a Piano Woman whenever she's sad or depressed, and giving Sei a cold, non-alcoholic beverage instead of a Bleeding Jane when she's depressed. Dorothy and Jill have a conversation about Anna, with Anna listening nearby, in between raunchy stories of Dorothy's escapades in Neo-Tijuana.
    • Virgilio's Ending: Linked to Dorothy's ending, obtained by fulfilling the conditions of her ending and getting all of his cryptic requests correct. Virgilio opens up a curry shop, and Jill reveals that his real name is Timothy Mercury, the former White Knight who saved Sei and Stella from a corrupt White Knight and had to go into hiding as a result. Jill, Sei, and Stella all happily eat curry together.
      • The ending can be gotten without fulfilling all of the conditions of Dorothy's ending.
    • Alma's Ending: Obtained by giving her a Brandtini whenever she wants a "classy" drink, and then giving her one when she's feeling down. Jill, Alma, and Gaby all have a sleepover.
  • New Game+: Unlocked by getting an ending. You carry over all money and unlockables from previous playthroughs, which means that you're likely not going to worry about paying off debts or Jill getting distracted.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Virgilio is based on a character portrayed by Jim Sterling. In his ending, Virgilio more closely resembles Sterling, with shorter hair and the orange shades he wore at the time of the game's release.
  • No Periods, Period: Double subverted. Dorothy will once ask for a Bleeding Jane to celebrate "that time of the month". Jill asks if she really means what the phrase implies (since Dorothy is a Lilim, not a human), but the answer is no.
    Jill: Then what time of month is it?
  • Non-Standard Game Over: Happens if you simply serve pre-packaged drinks to customers too many times in a row. Dana will abruptly interrupt the game, and force you to to stop working for the day. A Game Over screen will then show.
  • Noodle Incident: When Brian arrives to discuss the bar closing, he compliments the lack of complaints he receives about VA-11 Hall-A for chemical damage and shady drinks. Evidently, the only situation he's had word of was quite exceptional.
    Brian: The closest thing to a recent complaint was that whole Farmer Fabrics affair from a little while ago.
    Jill: So much saliva...
  • Not Screened for Critics: An odd example. The Vita version was hit with a review embargo, despite the porting company's Twitter offering press signups for months prior to the port's release and well before the release date was announced. It also came out a year and a half after the PC release, too.
  • Playful Hacker: Alice_Rabbit, a parallel to Anonymous who vandalizes government pages and releases government files in the name of fighting corruption. Alma has some shades of this but mainly treats it as a job, and even rants early in the game about how Alice_Rabbit endeared the Playful Hacker trope in the youth and made them want to hack to stick it to the man, when doing such a thing is not only very difficult but also incredibly dangerous. It's subtly implied that Alma is associated with Alice_Rabbit in some way.
  • Ridiculous Future Inflation: A Beer in Valhalla will run you $200 and in various TV Advertisements in the background, you'll often see $60 Ramen Cups, although the economy is stated to be in the shitter, not unlike the developer's home country of Venezuela.
  • Ridiculously Human Robot: The Lilim, who are sentient, have human emotions and have skin that at least mimics organic skin well. The newer models are even stated to be completely anatomically correct.
  • Running Gag: Every time Jill ends up talking with someone outside the bar, she asks if they want a cigarette. Every single person she does this with will say something to the effect of "No, I don't smoke, but I won't stop you if you want to."
    • The various stories about Dana's days before bartending can become this.
    • The argument over the noise in the alleyway. Gil insists that they're gunshots, Jill's convinced that it's a car backfiring, and Dana claims that they're fireworks. Every time the noise is brought up, all three of them chime in with their opinion.
  • Self-Deprecation: While this future has Sukeban Games upgrade into Sukeban Soft, a prominent first party developer of specialized gaming computers, the only franchises people know them for are Monster Girl RPG, Monster Girlfriend, Monster Companion, and Monstergirl Puzzle. During an interview, art designer-turned-janitor Kiririn 51 summarizes the company's current business plan is all too similar to how VA-11 HALL-A was marketed.
    Kiririn 51: We're going for the weeb audience. What's dignity anymore?
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Jill notes at a certain point that the bar is being hit by a number of depressing stories and hopes Dorothy is the next customer that arrives. She isn't the next customer that arrives, but she is responsible for giving a significant morale boost shortly afterwards to end up making this only temporary.
  • Slice of Life: The story does not focus on any major conflict (the closest we get is Jill coming to terms with some of her past mistakes). Rather, the world is examined peripherally through the characters and their everyday interactions with each other at Valhalla.
  • Technician vs. Performer: Discussed: some patrons ask why Jill doesn't add theatrics to her serving drinks, like tossing and catching her mixer. She explains that it wouldn't really improve the quality of the drink and take more time than simply making and serving them.
  • There Are No Girls on the Internet: Inverted: one series of threads in an online forum Jill frequents features a bunch of rabid female *Kira* Miki fans dogpiling another user who claimed to be male.
  • Three-Laws Compliant: Discussed by Jill and Dorothy. Dorothy finds the concept of binding AIs to artificial laws after they've become advanced enough to be self-aware to be ridiculous.
  • Wham Line:
    Jill: So, how's Lenore doing?
    Gaby: She's dead.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The location of Glitch City is never specified, other than reference to the developer's home country of Venezuela and the game's Japanese themed culture.
  • You Mean X Mas: Christmas is now Mega Christmas in this universe. Festivus is also celebrated and it's no different from how it is in Seinfeld.

Alternative Title(s): Va 11 Hall A

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