Mon. Jun 17th, 2024
First impressions Teacup demo cover

So, when Summer Game Fest happened earlier in the year, I downloaded a whole bunch of demos to play. Most of them I reviewed at the time, and I thought that was the end of it. However, the other day I discovered that one had slipped under the radar… I’d accidentally forgotten to play Teacup! I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to, as I know there had been a time limit attached to some of them. However, fortunately, the game loaded and I was able to give it a go. So, here are my first impressions of the Teacup demo!

Story

Everything about Teacup is cute, and that includes the premise. We’re introduced to Teacup, an adorable frog who absolutely loves tea. I’m not sure if she changed her name, or if it’s just a happy coincidence. Either way, tea is a big part of her personality. As such, she’s throwing a tea party for all of her friends. But, oh no! She’s run out! You’ll need to amend this by going out into the world and finding all the ingredients she needs in order to brew the different teas that she wants for the party.

We get to explore the world that Teacup lives in, and meet some colourful characters along the way. Obviously, the areas that we can visit are limited as this is just a demo, but it’s still really sweet seeing where she lives. There’s an adorable farmer’s market, and it’s fun talking to the NPCs who are working there. Not all of them are involved in the quest, some are just for filling out the story, and I actually really like that. It makes the game feel more complete, and I love that they have their own unique dialogue that matches their personalities.

First impressions Teacup demo, farmer's market.
I love that you get to speak to all of them, with their unique personalities.

Overall, the story works really well. It’s not too complicated, and is just a sweet, contained premise. It allows you to focus more on the gameplay, and to just enjoy what’s going on around you. A lot of games these days are very high-action and intense. Teacup is a welcome breath of fresh air, where you can just relax and enjoy yourself.

Gameplay

This is a very simplistic game, I won’t lie. If you like complicated mechanics, and multitudes of actions, then this isn’t for you. It’s a 2d rpg with no jumping mechanic, and honestly even though you can technically move around a 2d plane, directionally you’re always either going forwards or backwards. The movement is smooth, although rather slow. I’d like to see them speed up the character a bit for the full release.

Otto the Owl, Teacup game.
You progress by moving through the world from left to right.

The world is actually pretty full, and you’re able to interact with most people and objects. I hate when games have lots of assets that are just there and you can’t interact with them in any way, so I’m glad that Teacup doesn’t do this. You’re able to interact and get a line or two about the object. This makes the game feel more involved, and stops you from getting bored.

You travel between areas using a map that’s accessed when you reach the end of a path. Although as I mentioned previously, you can only really go forwards or backwards within an area, you can choose where to visit next. When the map is opened, you see all the different places in this world, and you select your destination. It’s a convenient way to get around the fact that the game is mostly played in 1d.

Teacup game, map.
There’s a cute hand-drawn map displaying the different areas.

Puzzles

As the rpg elements are pretty light, and there’s no action, the main forms of gameplay are puzzles and challenges. These are how you make progress with your quests, and are actually pretty fun. I feel the balancing is great when it comes to the difficulty. They’re not so challenging that you get bored and lose interest, but they’re also not simplistic. You get to use your brain/ skills, and I found the two puzzles in the demo to be highly enjoyable.

I also love that the puzzles are specific to the interaction you’re having. The first puzzle is to try and get some help from a stall owner at the farmer’s market. Instead of having a generic task, instead you’re supposed to be helping her arrange the vegetables on her stall. You’re presented with some Tetris pieces, and it’s your job to fit them all together. You have to make it so they’re arranged perfectly and all slot into the stall. Not only is it an enjoyable puzzle, but all the pieces are decorated with vegetables, so it feels immersive.

First impression Teacup demo, Tetris puzzle.
They really do look like oddly shaped boxes being fitted into a stall.

Not all of them involve using your intelligence. The other challenge you do is a swimming race against an NPC. You have to press the buttons that come up on screen as fast as you can in order to move forwards. The goal is to reach the finish line before the other swimmer does. I think it’s great that there’s variety in the puzzles, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else we’ll need to do throughout the course of the full game.

Graphics and Audio

My first impressions of the Teacup demo are that this is a very welcoming game, which is apparent from the moment that you open it up. The home screen plays gentle and relaxing piano music, that’s beautiful to hear. There’s also really gorgeous artwork for the home screen animation. When you launch the game, you see a lovely cutscene. I feel like the cutscene alone would make a delightful graphic novel, with its cute panels, and accessible storyline.

Teacup game, cutscene panel.
Don’t try to tell me that you wouldn’t read this graphic novel.

Once the game loads, the art style is admittedly a lot less detailed than in the cutscene. It’s a bit rough around the edges, but I don’t like to mark down indie games for things like that as I understand that they have limited resources, and I’d never expect their graphics to have the quality of a triple A game. Having said that, the art does actually grow on you the more you play. It’s charming, and adds character. I love the use of colour. One thing that did bother me, though, was that Teacup faces towards the camera when you stop moving. It comes across quite jaunty, and it would be better if she stayed facing the direction she was walking in.

There’s no music for the initial gameplay in Teacup’s house, and I think it would benefit from adding some. I was worried at first that the whole game would be silent, so I think the developers should consider adding the music from the home screen into the first part of the game. But the rest of the areas have their own unique tunes that are equally beautiful. The sound effects for speech are a little weird, but not in an unsettling way. I also like that we hear ambient sound effects, as well as Teacup’s footsteps.

First impressions Teacup demo, mint journal entry.
We get cute journal entries for any ingredients we find.

Overall

On the whole, my first impressions of the Teacup demo were very favourable. This looks to be a very promising game, with a really cute premise. I think the gameplay could make for some great escapism, and I’d happily play the full game. The demo wasn’t perfect, and I hope that the developers do make a few tweaks, but it’s still a lot of fun. One thing I will say is that the demo was very short. It only took me about 15-20 minutes to complete, and that was including me stopping regularly to take notes. I think it would probably only be about 10 minutes if you were to play without breaks. As such, I can’t rate the demo as high as I’d like, as there simply wasn’t enough to go on.

Have any of you played Teacup? What did you think? If not, do you think it’s a game you’d be interested in once it comes out? Join the discussion over in our Facebook community!

Teacup Demo

7.4

Verdict

7.4/10

Pros

  • Adorable storyline
  • Great use of colour in the artwork
  • Fun and challenging puzzles
  • Pleasant and relaxing soundtrack

Cons

  • Character moves too slowly
  • No music in the first section
  • Demo is too short to get a real feel for the game

By Screen Hype

Hi! I'm Melika Jeddi, a content writer and aspiring author. I've created Screen Hype to share my unique brand of entertaining articles with the world, and to create a fun space that everyone can feel a part of :)