Teacup is a short and wholesome narrative adventure game with a focus on exploration and non-linear progression. Help a small and shy frog on her journey to find the ingredients she needs for her tea party!
Publisher: Whitethorn Digital
Reviewed on: PC (Intel Core i5 10400F, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660, Team T-Force Delta RGB 16GB)
Also available for: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Developer: Smarto Club
Lead Credits: Alonso Canales, Matias Gabler, France Melio, Dani Rojas
Cast: Pablo Arias, Camila Paris, Felipe Waldhorn, Mauricio Lopez
Suspend your reality for just a moment and drift through the town of Little Pond, where the hums of animals blend into whimsical acoustic melodies; each burrow is alive with pastel colours and dotted textures; and traces of tea leaves are sprinkled throughout, waiting for you to find.
Released on the 24th of September, 2021, Teacup by Smarto Club is, as the title suggests, about tea—harvesting tea, brewing tea and learning the botany of tea—which is further emphasised by our shy and recluse frog-friend named Teacup. Exploring Little Pond with a hand-drawn map and tea encyclopedia, Teacup searches for tea leaves after running out days before her tea party. Her search becomes a backdrop for exploring the intricacies of her whimsical town. Helping out the locals by completing cosy puzzles and fetch quests and ambling through each region to take in the beautiful 2D set pieces, Teacup asks you to hit pause on the fast-paced nature of life and walk you through a simple yet absorbing story of a frog searching for ingredients for her tea party.
‘Slow-down’—is what I interpreted Teacup to be asking of me during my playthrough. From the slow and melodic music to the relaxed and carefree cast of animal neighbours. Exploration is unhurried and intentional because completing objectives—finding the tea leaves—requires you to simply seek out townsfolk living within the forest and converse with them about their everyday lives. There is no grandiose problem that needs to be solved. There are only quiet interactions about the mundane side of life that effectively lull you into a slow pace. You can’t simply open your map and teleport to where you need to go; instead, you have to walk through the areas, talking to your neighbours and helping them out with their tasks. By surrendering to the leisurely pace of Teacup, you can appreciate the beauty of simplicity that Little Pond has to offer.
Additionally, the tea encyclopedia savours this gentle pacing. Upon finding tea leaves, it opens up into a flurry of drawings and information on that given tea. You can easily close the book and pay the text no mind, but because of the game’s relaxing pace, you are compelled to take your time. Reading through each tea’s characteristics, medicinal properties, and history is therapeutic in itself. I found myself jotting down teas to try later and flicking through the encyclopedia purely for its beautiful design. Interacting with optional content for no reason other than your own curiosity is a testament to Teacup’s ability to create a world worth deliberately exploring.
The consistent leisurely pace Teacup pulls you into is nothing short of enthralling. Putting on your headphones and losing yourself to the day-to-day life of Little Pond. Each puzzle is unique—organising stamps for the mailman, swimming against Salamandro, finding items in a messy magician’s tent, organising a vegetable stall for the town market—and it encourages you to treat Teacup as a real world. The gameplay doesn’t test your ability as a player, considering the puzzles come with an in-built hint system; instead, its purpose is to encourage your interaction with the narrative to create a believable world.