Pixel Cafe is the journey of Pixel, a young adult who, after an argument with her mother, runs to the last place she ever felt loved and cared for—her grandma’s house. In an effort to pay the bills, she tries to keep a stable job as a cafe employee. For one reason or another, she loses her job and has to pick herself up and move on to the next ‘level;’ a.k.a., the next cafe.

Things start off simple, with each passing day adding more items to sell that decorate food or drinks at the cafe. For example, the coffee you serve can eventually have milk or ice added to it and even put into a coffee takeaway tray. A detail I like with the customers is when you serve them what they want immediately; they make surprised faces and noises. Speaking of customers, some of them are unique, like the heavy footsteps of one customer who orders a lot of items instead of at most three, and rocker customers who get upset if they aren’t served right off and will smack the counter to mess up the order you’re working on in anger.

The gameplay is interesting, as each item is either mapped to a button or selected with the left joystick. It can make it hard to get orders done quickly, and you can’t afford to forget which button is mapped to what or get overwhelmed with keeping track of items to prevent drinks from spilling over or food burning. Thankfully, in options, you can toggle to have the buttons shown and even play the game with the touchscreen instead. If basic gameplay isn’t challenging enough, some days even feature a nightmare mode, which I tried once and found too overwhelming.

The gameplay controls in the cafe are the worst part of Pixel Cafe. I feel the game would’ve been better suited for play on a computer or 3DS (were it released earlier). Playing with the touchscreen feature was a bit better. But I don’t like using my Switch for touchscreen, so I decided to put up with the original gameplay setup with the button shown toggled on.

Other than working at the cafe, you get virtual-novel-like cutscenes about either the present, getting to know your boss or talking to yourself, or the past, remembering your grandmother and the gripes with your mother. The writing of the cutscenes tugs on nostalgia, contains very relatable scenarios, and can be pretty melancholy. You can go back to your grandma’s house to buy furniture with your pay from work. The more expensive the furniture, the more happiness points Pixel gets, which you can use to improve the quality of life for your job by making things easier to do. You can also use your pay to upgrade your workplace, like getting more counter space.

Overall, Pixel Cafe is a charming cafe time manager with great pixel art. The chill Lo-fi rock soundtrack fits well with the mood, scenes, and themes of each cafe you work at. I’d say its price, $12.99, is fair as the game is pretty well done and has a good amount of content.