Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus and Butterfly Review – The Perfect Break for the Weary


Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus and Butterfly is Toge Productions’ sequel to the first Coffee Talk game, released on January 28, 2020, a game I definitely wasn’t expecting a sequel for given how satisfyingly it wrapped up its story arcs.

Coffee Talk is a visual novel/barista simulator in the same vein as games like VA-11 HALL-A, where you take on the role of a barista listening in on the stories of your many patrons. It’s a simple game without too much going under the hood, but it’s less about the gameplay and more about the experience of being a chill store owner listening to the problems of people ranging from fantasy beings, humans, banshees, and much more.

Coffee Talk Episode 2 brings much more stories and life to fan-favorite characters, while also deepening its list of recipes and providing even more incentives to mess around with the game through achievements, consequences, and fun interactions you can only experience from multiple playthroughs. It makes for a fantastic 6-10 hour journey, and by the end of it all you’ll feel like you have made some new friends.

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Come for the Coffee, Stay to Talk

Coffee Talk Episode 2 picks up three years after the events of the first game, when many characters have had their family issues, work, and personal matters resolved, and are now much more mature because of it thanks to the guidance and support of you the Barista.

Life is complicated, and Coffee Talk Episode 2 hones in on more aspects of life that you may even be struggling with yourself after these past few years. Key to the story this time is the internet and social media.

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Whereas Episode 1 focused on its characters and life through its mythical characters, this time Coffee Talk Episode 2 explores how the internet is used and how it affects these characters in their personal lives. Take for instance one of the new faces Lucas, a young satyr and hot face among social media, with a cheerful personality and bright color scheme that draws images in your head of social media heads like popular YouTubers and Tik Tok creators.

Lucas is someone that’s deeply embedded in social media as he’s an influencer. He talks about his life and is often seen using his phone to post about stuff on the internet and comment on the Barista’s performance as well as if you serve him the wrong or right drinks. Despite how shallow he may seem at first, he comes into contact with a lot of people in the coffee shop at the right time, learning new perspectives on his industry and making him reflect on how he sees the world.

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In the early section of the Coffee Talk Episode 2, he meets the other new face, Riona, and tries to get her to show herself off on social media to become a star, thinking he can launch her career because he’s somewhat popular online, but his personality is at odds with her own vision of how she wants to pursue her path, and to her means not using the internet to “shortcut” her way to success. Through repeated back and forth the two gain some insight and introspection into their lives, what relying on their gated community did to them and ultimately find a positive middle ground and better attitude about everything.

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That’s a kind of vague way of explaining their story, but their conversations are just so insightful and thought-provoking that I really don’t want to spoil much of it, and that’s just a small glimpse into the kind of themes the Coffee Talk Episode 2 goes into. It even explores the dark side of things like Idol Culture, Content Creator houses, internet exposure, the dark side of game production, and more.

It goes through all of these topics, and a lot more without being ham-fisted about it, as it’s always explained through the lens of people that are actually affected by it, giving it a much more personal touch and making it more digestible than having someone on youtube just explaining it to you. Couple these character stories with a criminal mystery involving multiple characters, and you’ll be serving these customers new drinks, while they serve you new stories.

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I also appreciate the game’s attention to its world-building. Even minor things like the short stories in The Evening Whisper having a new author, and the newspaper’s updates and Tomodachill stories are consistent with the world. While I would really like for the Coffee Talk Episode 2 to go into a little more detail, it’s enough to just tickle that part of your game that gets you fantasizing, which leaves much more of an impression anyway.

It’s a story that has quite a lot of meaning to it and will surely relate to young adults or people struggling in their lives. Otherwise, though, it’s still a great story that’s excellently written with likable character moments and insight into things you might otherwise not have known about while being pretty relevant in 2023, leaving you with tons of new things to find interest in and learn about.

▼ The game also has a cheeky sense of humor in many areas.

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Brewing Drinks and Changing Lives

As a Barista you’re not just going to be talking to them of course, as a bulk of Coffee Talk’s real interaction comes in making drinks for your clientele. Each day you’ll be greeted by friendly faces, who want to come into your shop that’s open up late at night to enjoy a fresh new drink from your gigantic recipe list, this time including two new colorful ingredients, Blue Pea and Hibiscus.

▼ Two beautiful drinks made with Blue Pea Flowers and Hibiscus.

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After you talk to your patrons they’ll typically ask you for a drink made with a few ingredients, and it’s up to you to brew together a specially named drink for them that matches their taste and criteria. Get it right and you’ll further advance their story, get it wrong and it’s not the end of the world, though it will have an effect on their mood and how their story progresses.

Like with the first game you can also intentionally make some mistakes to get some new outcomes, like certain characters not even wanting to visit the store anymore, drastically changing how the story progresses.

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Drinks themselves are fairly straightforward. You add a base ingredient, then its primary ingredients, then a secondary ingredient to finish it off. This means if someone is asking for say a drink that’s blue and gingery, you’d just need to come up with a drink combination that incorporates Blue peas and Ginger. Sometimes your guests may not have a specific drink in mind or have a specific name for it, and when that happens it’s up to you to get a little creative with mixing, to see what you can come up with.

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Like in the first game you may end up getting requested drinks that you haven’t unlocked in your recipe list, so to unlock them you’ll have to do quite a bit of trial and error since the Barista lost their notes in the three years between the games. Fortunately, through the guidance of your patrons, you’ll have a pretty good of how to make these drinks, and if you mess up you can always retry up to 5 times a day, or just reload the day. Coffee Talk Episode 2 doesn’t really have a game-over state though, just some alterations to the story, so I’d recommend just rolling with what you did unless you can’t stomach some bad outcomes.

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If you really do want to test your barista skills or want to unlock recipes stress-free, you can hit up the game’s endless modes to freely mess around with ingredients, challenge yourself by consecutively making drinks, and sometimes get clues on new recipes that way. Coffee Talk Episode 2 also adds 8 new tracks, so if you want to mix it up with some new soothing tracks you can do so anytime through the game’s version of Spotify.

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You can pass along items from customers meant for others. It’s kind of nice to touch as you see this kind of thing on TV or other media a lot. Someone’s a friend of another’s they leave their things at a shop for you to pass it on. It further cements how much of a role you’ve played in their lives that they can trust you with lost items, and there’s quite a lot of dialogue if you give someone the wrong thing, just to see their reaction.

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Coffee Talk Episode 2’s gameplay is admittedly mostly the same as the first game, so not a whole lot has changed. What’s there isn’t much but it’s novel enough to engage you just more than a visual novel, and there are times when I did get bamboozled by their requests like a guest asking me to “make me a drink with ingredients I never tried before”, which woke me right up in the middle of a session.

It isn’t deep gameplay, but that’s not what I really wanted going in, and just being able to serve drinks, talk to people, and help them get by is really all you want in a relaxing experience. The game also at the time of writing ran perfectly fine on a Steam Deck with controller prompts, so it’s also a good game to play during your commutes.

▼ Latte Art makes a return, and three years later I’m still not good at it!

Coffee Talk Episode 2

The Perfect Game to Go with a Cup of Coffee

Coffee Talk Episode 2 is an excellent game for fans of the first game, improving upon it in a few appreciated ways while also capping off the story for some more of our favorite characters, and telling some interesting new ones.

If you haven’t played Coffee Talk Episode 1, I can’t recommend you play this entry though as it does reference the first game a lot and a lot of the experience is quite dependent on how much you enjoyed that game, and you won’t really understand the journey it took for these characters to get where they are without that experience.

If, or once you have played Coffee Talk Episode 1 though, I couldn’t recommend Coffee Talk Episode 2 anymore highly, as it’s the perfect follow-up to a story I wasn’t expecting, but was so pleasantly surprised and engaged throughout the whole thing, leaving me with a mix of emotions as complex as the drinks I was brewing.

If you’re looking for a relaxing game in between all the action games the industry is saturated with, or just a really good story, Coffee Talk and Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus and Butterfly are games you just absolutely have to try, and is one of those stories that just sticks with you, leaving for a truly unforgettable experience.

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Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus and Butterfly Review - The Perfect Break for the Weary
Coffee Talk Episode 2 Game Review

Coffee Talk Episode 2 is an unexpected, but perfect sequel to the relaxing and thought-provoking barista simulator, that's just as engaging as the original.

Operating System: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC

Application Category: Game

Editor's Rating: