Back in 2020, the first visual novel I ever reviewed was Coffee Talk. I’ve always enjoyed lots of reading in my video games, and combined with some laid back vibes and a bit of barista work the game really scratched an itch. Hearing about a sequel got me very excited to meet some new characters and mix some interesting beverages, and Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus and Butterfly brings exactly that.
As the barista of the Coffee Talk, your job is to invite in anyone who fancies a drink and have a friendly chat with them while they sip away at their beverage of choice. The atmosphere of this peculiar coffee shop seems to help people open up about their problems, and the unusual late night opening times mean that some bizarre characters often wander in.
What makes the world of Coffee Talk Episode 2 different to our own though, is that fantasy races are reality there. As well as serving humans, you’ll also have Satyrs, Succubus (Succubi? – Ed) and Vampires coming in for a cuppa. A lot of what they’ll chat about with you is the prejudice they face in their daily life, be it when marrying another race or when posting online. It adds an interesting twist to the game, and definitely helps make each character memorable.
It becomes obvious rather quickly why this game is named Coffee Talk Episode 2 as opposed to being labeled as a full sequel. The vast majority of characters are returning cast from the previous game, and while it’s nice to see so many familiar faces (and this setup means the stories can go deeper this time around without a need for introductions) it does mean that you absolutely need to play the original before you start this installment.
The few new characters are interesting additions to the game too. Lucas is a Satyr influencer who has amassed a whole load of fans with his high energy and positive attitude, but is struggling with a desire to branch out with some new content. There’s also Riona, a Siren who has dreams of being a singer but is too scared to pursue it after getting a whole lot of hate on some videos she uploaded. Getting to see these characters work through their problems while chatting to you and the other patrons of the Coffee Talk is just as delightful now as it was the first time around, it’s just a shame there aren’t more of them to meet.
Unlike other visual novels, Coffee Talk Episode 2 doesn’t feature dialogue options where you choose what to say next or anything else in the way of choice. The only way you can affect the game at all is by making drinks. Each customer who comes in will ask for a drink (usually with a few parameters) and it’s up to you and the coffee machine to make what they want. From simple black coffees to a Masala Chai, you’ll create all sorts of wonders using the three ingredient slots you have available. There’s an endless drink mode to play if you want to experiment without consequences too, so feel free to go nuts with the green tea.
All of this will sound familiar if you played the last game, but new this time around are Hibiscus and Butterfly tea. Honestly it doesn’t change the game all that much, but I appreciated the option of making some new colourful drinks. Another new addition is the ability to give somebody an item when they place an order (for example a lighter they left behind) which is again pretty simple but adds an extra layer to the drink making.
If you’re feeling particularly creative, you can finish off any lattes with a bit of latte art. By pouring and etching foam you can create fun little works of art that your customers will never even notice, but if you fancy a break from talking then feel free to draw a flower or something less innocent in the next patron’s drink.
Outside of drinks making and talking there isn’t a whole lot to talk about in Coffee Talk Episode 2. You can read daily short stories about struggling freelance writers and first date worries on your phone, and browse social media to see what your customers have been up to, but really the focus here is the narrative and conversations between the interesting folks who turn up at the shop.
In terms of negatives, there aren’t a huge amount of problems in Coffee Talk Episode 2. It maybe isn’t the most exciting visual novel, focused more on personal issues than dramatic moments. Also the amount it expects you to remember from a game that was released three years ago is wild. One returning character asked me for the first drink he ever ordered, and the idea that I’d know what that was is frankly absurd. There’s no real punishment for failing to give someone the right drink, but it never felt good to get it wrong for such an unfair reason.
Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus and Butterfly is a laid back visual novel with a strong green tea flavour. It doesn’t deviate a whole lot from the last game, but the personal stories of the fantasy characters are engaging and often pretty damn touching. Don’t play it if you haven’t played the first game, but the rest of you returning fans will find a lot to enjoy.
A relaxing visual novel
Making beverages is an interesting gameplay twist
The new characters are great
Expects you to remember a lot from the first game
Not the most exciting visual novel
Doesn't add much new