A perfectly brewed continuation | Full Review - Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly

Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly, is a direct follow-up to the amazing part-visual novel, part-coffee barista simulator Coffee Talk. It set exactly three years after the original game and retains most of its coffee making simulator elements and narrative style.
+Relaxing, chill experience
+Provocative slice-of-life stories
+Well written characters
+Fun coffee / beverage making system
-Not much control over the narrative
Set in a rainy, mashed up, fantasized alternate 2023 version of Seattle, Coffee Talk lets you play as a barista in the eponymous relaxing coffee shop that serves a diverse range of customers in a world where humans, elves, orcs, and other fantasy creatures coexist with each other. It is highly reminiscent of the premise of the Netflix film Bright.
Coffee Talk's title couldn't be more fitting for the game. As you combine various ingredients and serve drinks, you also listen to their stories and help them with their problems, all while enjoying the game's relaxing soundtrack and charming pixel graphics.
Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly continues the same gameplay setup of the first game, while introducing new ingredients and minor gameplay elements, like a lost and found drawer and the ability to give items to customers along with their ordered beverage. They’re simple additions but add a lot to the immersion to being a Coffee shop owner.
The gameplay of the game is simple and in some ways repetitive, but highly mesmerizing that you’d want to do it again and again. Your main task is to prepare and serve the drinks that your customers order by selecting the right ingredients based on their requests, or descriptions. Some can be straightforward, some are more vague, some will even allow you to experiment. Learned recipes are saved to your phone and can be viewed for reference at all times.
The drinks range from classics like Black Coffee and Lattes to more uniquely named and unfamiliar beverages like Masala Chai and Spanish Sahara. For Lattes and Milk based drinks, you can even make latte art to serve to customers. The system to make the coffee art is tricky but ultimately fun to use, and I have spent lots of time trying to make such art. Fortunately, it is not timed and resets are completely consequence-free.
As for the actual orders, there are no severe consequences for serving the wrong drinks — you’ll only mostly get a mildly disappointed reaction and maybe lose some interesting dialogue.
For the majority of the experience — outside the coffee-making elements — the game is laser focused and brim-filled with stories of customers. Nothing really significant or world changing, but mostly just provocative slice-of-life conversations that just fits perfectly with the coffee themed aesthetic of the game.
You, as the barista and shop owner, also participate in these charming conversations, but unfortunately without any dialogue choices or control over the narrative — aside from making the right or wrong servings or the new lost and found element, which doesn’t really matter much anyway. You can also access the commendable chat history feature, if you happen to miss or forget some of the conversations.
Your coffee shop, 'Coffee Talk,' opens on a nightly basis and is the only coffee shop in the area open past midnight. The game progresses through different nights, with a variety of customers -- both regulars and newcomers -- sharing their stories. You can also come back to any night of the two-week story and replay them to your heart’s content.
The varied characters — from nerd orcs to immortal model vampires — are all interestingly written. They have actual realistic personalities for the most part that people can relate to, with their own problems and challenges in life, interacting with them feels engrossing and immersive.
The game is short and can be beaten in under five hours. As mentioned earlier, it just consists of around 14 nights to play out, which is similar in length to the first game. However, there is an endless mode for those who want to continuously make beverages without any narrative hurdles.
Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly is not a full-on sequel that tries to revolutionize the series. It is rightfully titled Episode 2 as it mostly retains the same art style, graphics, gameplay, and narrative direction with only minor additions to the recipe.
If you love slice-of-life stories, don't mind pixel art, and have even the slightest interest in coffee and beverage drinking, Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly is a must-buy and a welcome addition to the formula, and one that doesn’t needlessly change the recipe for good reason. However, only play this if you have played the first game, as it is a direct follow-up.
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