“Coffee is a way of stealing time that should by rights belong to your older self.” – Terry Pratchett
Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus and Butterfly is a stand-alone sequel to 2020’s Coffee Talk, players can jump straight into this new game but those who have played the first instalment will recognise some familiar faces in the café!
Developer: Toge Productions
Released: 20th April 2023
Platforms: Windows, Mac, PS4/5, Switch, Xbox One/Series X|S
Available on: Steam, GOG, PlayStation, eShop, Microsoft
Coffee Talk Episode 2 combines cosy narrative-focused gameplay with drink making! Players can chat with a host of patrons whilst serving them the perfect drink, made to order, essentially taking on the roles of eavesdropper, agony-aunt and barista all at the same time! There are no dialogue choices and the narrative is pretty linear but the story can be affected by whether or not the correct drink is received as well as whether certain items are delivered to the right customer. For example, Officer Jorgi leaves his lighter behind and it is possible to forget to give it back.
The protagonist has a phone on which they can view the social media accounts of their patrons, more information is revealed as the barista earns more favour with each person. Additionally, music tracks can be viewed and selected from the phone as well as viewing discovered drink recipes and some fictional stories. The game progresses one evening at a time and features both manual and autosave functions. it uses simple intuitive controls and is easy to get stuck into.
While making the wrong drinks in the main game is relatively unpunished, there is an endless option that includes a free mode and a challenge mode. Challenge mode is timed and requires the player to make as many correct drinks as possible, with instructions getting more difficult as progress is made.
Coffee Talk Episode 2 is highly narrative-focused with much of the game involving conversing with patrons of the café. As the owner, players will be tasked with talking to a range of characters including orcs, banshees, sirens, aliens and satyrs – there are also cameos from characters from other indie games! Conversations range from everyday chit-chat to much more serious topics and include things such as vandalism, weddings, social media, politics, and the weather. Occasionally, weightier issues such as alcoholism and neglect do crop up in a minimal way but these topics are handled sensitively and are not jarring despite the relaxing nature of the game as a whole.
All the characters in the game have their own personalities, appearances and stories and whilst they are often interwoven with those of different characters they remain distinct and intriguing and all come to satisfying conclusions.
Coffee Talk Episode 2 features the same art style as the first game, inspired by 1990’s pixel art anime it is comprised of soft, muted and often moody colour palettes and is very easy on the eye overall. The eclectic characters are well-designed and varied and fit nicely into the café’s welcoming scenery.
The game features a wide range of different tracks ranging from more subdued to jazzy to more upbeat numbers, all fit within the lo-fi genre giving some consistency and making a nice backdrop for the casual gameplay. Ambient sound effects, such as the café’s doorbell or the weather (mostly rain and thunder) also help bring the setting to life and give extra depth to the scenes.
Coffee Talk Episode 2 Hibiscus and Butterfly s is a wonderful new addition to the series that boasts fantastic casual gameplay, and eclectic and interesting characters in a fantastical yet everyday setting. The retro-style pixel graphics are stunning and make good use of colour to add to the relaxing ambience along with the charming lo-fi soundtrack. Overall, this is a quality experience that I’d highly recommend to fans of the first game or anyone looking for a laid-back but engaging experience.
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