DigitalBadger Design LLC’s first virtual reality (VR) videogame was not birthed out of the intention to become a thought leader in a rapidly moving industry. It wasn’t due to fascination with modern hardware, and it wasn’t motivated by the fresh green pasture of new genre possibilities. Flairtender was, according to DigitalBadger Design LLC’s Robert Frank, designed to save him a few bucks.
How would a VR videogame save you money, you ask? Well, put simply, alcohol is expensive. If you’re the creative type and find yourself kicking-back with a cocktail every now-and-then, you’ll have no doubt found that without some practice most of what you make won’t live up to even the most basic mix at your local bar. Flairtender aims to change that; helping you to learn to make the best of your spirits and mixers without the hefty shopping bill each time.
The core component of Flairtender remains a videogame experience: serve customers accurately poured drinks, save up a wedge of cash, buy new equipment for your bar, offer a new selection of cocktails. It’s a simple and obvious learning curve combined with the traditional ‘one-more-go’ approach to sticky gameplay. In this case however, it’s more like ‘one more drink’.
For some however, it’ll be the tuition part of Flairtender that stands out. The core gameplay doesn’t have the humour of Job Simulator: The 2050 Archives, nor does it have the depth or variety. What it does have however, is a core principle that relates directly to the real-world, much like Starship Group’s presently absent CyberCook.
The videogame offers a menu of selected cocktail recipes and all the ingredients required to make them. It presents a breakdown of the mix required and the order in which each component should be added to the glass, plus suggests the appropriate garnish, too. It’s not the most detailed instruction you could ask for, but is certainly comparable to a mixology book.
Despite all of this potential, Flairtender does have some significant ground to cover while in Steam Early Access. The visual quality is poor, at best, with a lifeless bar presented in front of you. The liquid animation appears little more than stock assets – given how much a part of Flairtender liquids are, this certainly needs improving – and much of the mise-en-scene is simply without character. Worst of all, Flairtender’s basic text presentation doesn’t do the image quality any favours.
So Flairtender is an intriguing prospect, but not one without issue. You’d be hard pressed to suggest that DigitalBadger Design LLC are without knowledge of the problems – mostly cosmetic – that Flairtender currently faces, but tidying them up isn’t as easy as developing a unique concept in VR. VRFocus will be closely watching Flairtender to see if it can live-up to its potential.