"Teahouse of the Gods"—Harness the energy of qi to save the world!


We’re proud to announce that Teahouse of the Gods, the latest in our popular “Choice of Games” line of multiple-choice interactive-fiction games, is now available for Steam, Android, and on iOS in the “Choice of Games” app.

It’s 29% off until Nov 30th!

Harness the energy of life itself to empower your body, control your environment, even delve deep into the mysteries of the mind! Will you use your newfound powers to maintain the balance of the universe, or will corruption stain your soul?

Teahouse of the Gods is a 250,000-word interactive novel by Naca Rat. It’s entirely text-based, without graphics or sound effects, and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

After one night at “The Teahouse” on Mount Qingcheng in Sichuan, China, you wake with the ability to perceive and manipulate spiritual energy, known as qi. Now, you can see gods and monsters that ordinary people can’t, and you can unlock extraordinary powers.

On the path of the body, you can run faster, jump higher, and punch harder. On the path of the mind, you can create glamours and illusions that change people’s perceptions of reality. And on the path of the environment, you can reach out to the world around you, from blades of grass, to the smallest teacup, to Mount Qingcheng itself.

Under the guidance of gods and animal spirits, you can perceive a sickness slowly poisoning the mountain and its inhabitants. When an ancient enemy returns to the mountain with vengeance in mind, will you be ready to join the fight? The mysteries of Mount Qingcheng are beckoning you.

• Play as male, female, or nonbinary; gay, straight, bi, asexual, or poly.
• Explore a mountain village in China that’s as timeless as myth, yet as modern as a trending hashtag on TikTok.
• Discover the secrets of your past life. Do they still have the power to shape your destiny?
• Rekindle an ancient romance, explore the possibilities with a long-lost friend, or charm a local mogul/memelord.
• Specialize in the body, mind, or environment path as you learn to control spiritual energy, or develop your skills in all three.
• Befriend a Romanian expat, a musical prodigy, a panda spirit, and a busy mother.
• Help a local resort owner plan a summer festival. (You’re here to learn the hospitality industry, remember?)
• Eat. Eat vegetarian, kosher, halal, or try everything: gourmet delicacies, spicy local fare, street food, and dishes from around the world …and beyond.

Thousands of years later, you’re home at last.

We hope you enjoy playing Teahouse of the Gods. We encourage you to tell your friends about it, and recommend the game on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other sites. Don’t forget: our initial download rate determines our ranking on the App Store. The more times you download in the first week, the better our games will rank.

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Nice… Waiting for this to come out. Congratulations on the release @nacarat

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Congratulations, @nacarat!

I’m always excited to see what people will have to say about a game I’ve worked on, but this one has me especially intrigued, since it’s so rich and challenging - I expect it will stir up all kinds of strong opinions, but I think most readers who can give themselves over to a fiercely offbeat game will come to love its intelligence, whimsy, and deep affection for a place and a people and the Earth itself.

I do heartily advise anyone venturing into this game not to do so on an empty stomach. No matter how picky you are, I guarantee there will be at least one thing in this game that you wish you could get the recipe for. :yum:

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Congratulations, @nacarat!
It looks interesting. Can’t wait to play it.

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Congrats @nacarat!

I was impressed by the way you ran the WiP thread on the forum and enjoyed your characters, their development, and the way you gently brought those of us with limited background into a wonderful world.

I look forward to any future projects you are involved in.

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How did this come out on Wednesday, I am not complaining just caught off guard.

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Tomorrow is a holiday in the US, so every year we release on the Wednesday of this week.

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Congratulations, @nacarat!

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Yesssss! I have been waiting for this to come out! Take my money immediately.

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Just double checking but… is it supposed to have the same checks for all 3 responses?.. It doesn’t seem right to me…

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Can we romance A’Li at all without being forced into a poly relationship with Victoria?

That entire relationship kerfuffle seemed weirdly handled to me - we don’t get any real insight into their prior dynamic, can flirt and have A’Li reciprocate beforehand, and then that conversation happens and if, like me, you don’t like Victoria (she doesn’t even care about A’Li!) he just puts you in the friendzone afterwards.

I felt strangely forced by the game to be attracted to Victoria, even though I made it clear multiple times that my character doesn’t. And then the game prompts me again. And again.

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I’m very mixed on this one. It may just be that I’m not the target audience (which is fine), but I’m actually a big fan of Chinese mythology and have read quite a few novels based in Chinese mythology, but I had a hard time getting into this.

Positives

  • Lot’s of Chinese lore and cultural references. As someone who isn’t Chinese I can’t speak to the veracity of the references but it definitely lines up with other things I have read.
  • An interesting and compelling main plot.

Negatives

  • The language issue annoyed me. When it asks about language it makes it seem like an in character thing (by stating that CHARACTERS will try and accommodate your language). My character understands Mandarin so it makes sense for me to answer that question that way. But I, the player, don’t, so a large chunk of the dialogue is inaccessible to me. Not a fan of how that is handled.
  • Not particularly a fan of “forced” romance. I guess you can treat Victoria like an ex, but I personally felt like I was being pushed in a specific direction.
  • I’m not sure if I missed something in the dialogue but for some reason about halfway through my qi path stat (in my case Mind Path) dropped significantly and I couldn’t figure out why. Went mid 70s to mid 50s.

All in all, I think it is good, but maybe it is specifically aimed at people with a Chinese background because it feels too dense for me, someone with minimal knowledge of the culture, to get into.

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I felt very similar about the game!

The lore and worldbuilding is super interesting and as someone who at the very least speaks a bit of Japanese, having the whole Fox Spirit lore make references to Chinese vs. Japanese culture was really interesting.

Also the food sections were all great and really did make me feel hungry, haha.

But I also felt generally forced into liking Victoria when I (and my character) really don’t. She felt (due to her nature) like an incredibly insufferable being outside of her devotion to the player character, and her treating almost everyone else (A’Li especially) like dirt didn’t make her endearing to me, it made her just seem obsessed and cold hearted.

I was also caught off-guard by the meme-y whiplash the game gave me. Up until the trip to Heaven it is all very grounded in reality and Chinese cultural lore - and then it just goes off the rails in a way that made me feel alienated by the stakes of the game.

The 4th wall breaking segments and general writing was really fun (I adooore the dream sections), but when the game treats its ‘powers that be’ as a joke, then how am I supposed to feel with characters who suffer from pre-judice due to them or encounter hardships?

It’s not like the people on the mountain, the spirits and mortals that you encounter, have the same sort of whitty are-you-in-on-the-joke personalities.

It makes sense for an old spirit to go with the times to fit into society. Or for a panda to want to eat yummy things despite not being a person and thus not invited for festivals. It makes decidedly less sense for The Origin himself to be a memelord valley girl stereotype who invites you out for Starbucks. Or for Hell to hire a bunch of programmers.

There’s a dissonance between the teahouse sections and the ‘other worldly’ stuff, and it unfortunately didn’t grip me, it threw me out of feeling invested in the plot.

Which is a shame, because the writing itself is snappy, witty, shows you a different culture in interesting ways and puts a really cool spin on the ‘stranger in a new land’ trope.

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I have to admit I’m a little confused by this complaint that a romance with Victoria feels forced on people, because I never had that problem (or rather, the one time I sort of did, it was due to a coding oversight that I assume was resolved after I reported it). I do like Victoria as a character, even if I wasn’t doing her romance route, so I didn’t mind having her around, and I never felt that she was pushing my boundaries if I just wanted to be friends.

@Lance_Heyen - I recommend you give it another try with a character who doesn’t speak Chinese. Think of the character as a cultural outsider by default, with the option to play the game as more of an insider if you actually are one, either by birth or by committed study. The author has written that it was a goal of theirs for this game to simulate the experience of immersion in a foreign culture - fascinating, but also confusing and overwhelming and uncomfortable. I actually found my later playthroughs much more enjoyable than my first, because, although there were still plenty of new things to explore, I had a basic grasp of the setting and the lore, so I felt less hopelessly out of my depths.

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Thank you, everyone!

@Eiwynn I appreciate the evaluation on how I ran the WiP thread, especially from a moderator. Keep in touch!

@yanphi I’ve sent in bugfixes. This should be fixed with the next update. Thanks for the question!

@Cirrocumulus @Lance_Heyen
Gameplay suggestions: For players who don’t like Victoria, in Chapter 8, the choice “I’m not attracted to Victoria, and I dislike her presence…” will toggle-off her presence as much as possible. In Chapter 18, you can also try to kill her or remove her from the game.

Player characters can pursue A’Li after being “friendzoned.” This may not be advisable, moral, or effective.

To respect readers’ interpretations of the story, I’m not going to comment on my writing intentions (“Why was this character written this way?”) unless I’m asked for input. Feel free to tag me as you like.

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So, I…really, really liked this one.

Chinese Mythology is usually not my grab-bag(Greek and Norse are more my forte), so it was a nice way to expand my mind on that front(though it is nice to see a Journey to the West reference). The idea of being able to choose how well-versed you are in Chinese is also quite nice-as one who was born here but has a Pacific Islander parent that immigrated here, and since I can’t speak the home language for peanuts, it resonated well how looking the part but not being able to act the part led to some adaptation on the part of the characters.

As for the…I guess you can say “tonal dissonance” of the more esoteric parts of the plot, I actually found it quite amusing. It’s the ancient and the modern mixing together (with some growing pains, of course) and it helps ground the divinity while not making it lose its majesty too much for me.

And the prevalence of Victoria wasn’t much of a problem on my end since I really liked her and her attempts to grasp humanity. Didn’t know you could go poly and get both A’Li and her at once so I left the fox out in the cold unfortunately, but goal for another run.

The false self was also quite interesting to interact with, having some sympathy in their love for A’Li and their aspect of Gaia’s Vengeance, but also with the tease of corruption being the easier and more seductive path.

Maybe it’s because I have played many of these at this point or maybe the stuff in it just resonated really well with me, but this was a nice, refreshing story that I really love.

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What I did not enjoy as a player about A’Li’s path isn’t the friendzoning, but the way it is set up.

I suppose it is a great storytelling devise for people who want characters to have agencies away from the player, but from a roleplaying perspective being given the chance to flirt and have him reciprocate, only to be hit by him being into Victoria instead when the only lead-up to that confession is him thinking she’s beautiful in a flashback, once - while it is clearly set up that up until this point, Victoria doesn’t even so much as care about his physical well being felt incredibly…punishing, in a way?

Like the game expected me to come to care for this character (the first one we meet!) who is carrying a ton of baggage, gave me the chance to understand him as a person - but then after ‘that scene’ the only way for me to interact with him in a romantic sense is to encourage his love for someone who in no way even acknowledges his existence beyond his fighting capacity or to force the player character on him despite that upsetting him.

It felt like the game dangled something in front of me only to rip the choice away from me afterwards. I do not want my player character to negatively affect a character I, as the player, come to care for. Yet here I felt punished for trying to build a positive relationship.

It’s a very divise way of thinking, I suppose. I bet players who really enjoyed Victoria and liked her would not share my opinion at all.

I did not get the same sort of feeling with any of the supporting cast - Vlad, Qin and our panda buddy were handled in a way where I felt that my choices actually mattered in the here and now, and where I thought that each choice I made felt fair to the things my player character knew.

The best parts about the endings to me were related to what they ended up doing, and how your end choices about what the player character does affects who sticks around.

I definitely do not regret the money I spent on the game despite my grievances. I feel like I may not be the right audience for it, however.

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I thought this was great. It was often very funny as well. When Victoria gave me an entire Wisteria tree I belly laughed for about a minute. That’s high praise! Also Qin was adorable and the talk you can have with her about getting older made me tear up.

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After spending some more time with it I think the difference is this is more of story with some choices thrown in, rather than a more roleplaying experience like many other CoG stories. The MC isn’t an entirely blank slate that you can put your own story into so there are going to be places where the story being told butts up against the character the players want to create.

I think I am going to leave it alone for a little bit and then come back to it treating it more like a static story than a roleplaying experience and I think that may change my enjoyment.

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How do I defeat the false spirit? My MC died instead. How do I always end up in this situation ?