As evidenced by our inclusion of Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite in the Best Fighting Game category for the Best of 2017 awards, the pickings for quality original fighters recently have been rather slim. So how can you shake things up a bit while still having an excellent game? Well, if you’re Canadian developers Sweet Bandit Studios, the answer is to splice in another genre and give everything a distinctive theme. They decided to go with more unorthodox answers, however, by having the theme be coffee and the second genre be twin-stick shooters. So their game Coffence is an odd blend, to say the least, but you’d be surprised just how smoothly it goes down.
On the surface, it may seem like Coffence is your standard fighting game with a colorful cast of characters, just with ones that have professions more closely related to coffee (like barista, student, businessman, and…uh, pirate). However, the twist lies is the overall objective. Here, the goal isn’t to knock each other out, but to instead knock the coffee out of your opponent’s cup and into your own. Essentially, it’s a tug of war between two life bars, with the caffeinated goodness serving as overall health for the fighters. So instead of striking your opponent, you go for their cup instead.
Aiming for your rival’s cup is where the twin-stick gameplay comes in, as you may have guessed. And like the best twin-stick games, it’s easy to control and a hoot to play with. Aiming with the right stick, you choose where you shoot out your cup with it coming back to you immediately afterwards, yo-yo style. It may be a bit tricky to get adjusted to at first due to the genre shift, but the challenge in trying to hit one small part of a moving target is well-done. Once struck, the coffee flies out of the cup, and then both players scramble to have it land it their mug either by hitting it again, or just jumping over to it and catching it. There’s even a bit of a rock-paper-scissors mechanic included where certain moves can cause others to be blocked or backfire, adding a bit more strategy.
There’s also a bit of variety in other areas as well. For one, players can select from different varieties of cups with various stats, like a full coffee pot that can hold more gulps of coffee, but is naturally slower. And considering that another notable move is to drink a shot of your own coffee in order for everything else to go in slow motion briefly so that you have more room for precision, one or two extra bits of life can make a whole difference. The different arenas aren’t just for show as well, with their various colorful backdrops. They are a joy to dash around in, but several of them also include elevated areas and obstacles that can provide necessary advantages in getting the perfect angle needed for a strike.
So far, Coffence is quirky, but underneath its goofy facade lies a fighting game that’s simple to pick up and play, yet truly rewards skill when it comes to mastering a unique concept such as this. If you want to see for yourself if the game is as addictive as the Sumatran blends that flow throughout it, then you can purchase Coffence in Early Access on Steam right now or wait for its eventual release in the future.