Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly is a heartfelt and cosy talking simulator in which you run a late-night coffee shop in a modern Seattle filled with fantasy races straight out of a fairytale. As the Barista at the coffee shop, you spend your nights listening to the mixed bag of returning customers and their daily struggles. It is the next chapter in the Coffee Talk series developed and published by Toge Productions
Carrying on from the first game with a lot of returning characters gives players a comfortable return to the coffee shop and just expands on the experience with new stories and some new customers.
Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly knows when and how to keep a game simple with heavy focus on the story without making you feel bored or overwhelmed, which is crucial for a talking simulator.
It mixes up the streams of back and forth dialogue with making coffee, sometimes this is an easy request with a laid out recipe or a drink name that you can look up in your recipe book and follow from there. Other times the requests are more challenging where the customer asks for a drink based on flavours rather than the drink’s name, or the ingredients themselves. It is then up to you to build the drink by looking at the levels of flavours in the coffee machine as you go to add ingredients.
While serving drinks, you can hand items you’ve kept behind the counter. These can be from forgetful customers or recurring patrons asking you to pass things on to one another, all of which play key parts in how their stories and your interactions can develop.
There is an entire in game social media app that you can browse through during your downtime between speaking to customers. This fills with posts of the characters that just breathe more life into each one of them. How much the customer enjoys the drink provides you with a different response and changes your relationship with them, which can reveal more information about them on their social media as you become closer friends.
Smaller features include the ability to create latte art on the drinks, as well as a few other apps on your phone that you can use to play music or browse for more in depth world building.
Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly has a beautifully crafted pixel art drawn style with everything from the ingredients and the drinks, to the customers, to the whole backdrop of the coffee shop. This makes the story extremely immersive, since the characters have been so well-designed and are made to seem so in-depth and full of life. Despite not being fully animated and only changing poses a few times during conversation, they have all been done so well, especially to be able to convey the emotions passed through the writing.
The interlinked stories are all well written and complex which is consistent throughout, where I worried that some stories were maybe going to start to overpower others. However, none of the resolutions felt underwhelming, rushed or abandoned. This level of commitment is what delivered on all fronts, and it made the game so rewarding in the end.
The story tackles some challenging topics and shows some of the characters going through tough times, which can lead to some very emotional and heartfelt moments. These moments feel well-timed with the pacing of the story and how invested you now are in these characters. The conversations that follow are effective and reveal the deeper levels of the characters without ever feeling forced or overbearing.
The developers at Toge Productions have been able to build a fascinating atmosphere within the game and as much as cosy is the one and only word that comes to mind, I feel like it goes above and beyond to deliver that feeling. Plenty of games come across as cosy, don’t get me wrong, they can be chilled, relaxing and slow paced in a good way, but playing Coffee Talk Episode 2 during the darker colder months with rain tapping on the window and a hot drink nearby just doesn’t get any cosier.
Understandably, being a sequel might turn you away, but I hadn’t played the first game before my first playthrough, and it didn’t feel like you were missing out on much. Yes the first game has great stories and character building through the roof but with the start of episode 2 any returning characters just feel like old friends reuniting and living through their memories and their stories again in the moment.
If you are a big fan of heart-warming story driven games or emotional and relaxing talking simulators as a whole, I cannot recommend this game enough,it really does draw you in and make you feel something with such ease. The writing is phenomenal throughout, with the whole aesthetic and feel to the game being so powerful and satisfying that it elevates the story to another level. Now, when I’m turning on the coffee machine, I can’t imagine myself anywhere else.
- Incredible Writing
- Immersive Atmosphere
- Strong Character Design
- The Soundtrack fits the setting perfectly
- Not enough minigames
- Not enough voice acting for the characters