It seems like only yesterday I was sitting down in January 2020 to review the first Coffee Talk game. Now, here we are in 2023 and so much has changed but the charming little coffee shop in a fantasy version of Seattle appears as though it’ll be just as welcoming as it was back then. After delays in the release of Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly, the time is finally here and I’m so excited to truly sink my teeth into this sequel to the popular visual novel.
Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly follows on from Toge Production’s first Coffee Talk game. In the game, you delve back into becoming the owner/operator of Coffee Talk. For those familiar with the game series, you will remember that it follows the stories and intertwined lives of the variety of customers who visit your cafe from fantasy races such as elves, satyrs and werewolves, to just your average joe looking for his coffee hit, with each character you meet having unique dreams, stories and personalities. For this sequel, the lives of the people who visit your cafe have become more developed and intriguing and that brings with it a bigger pool of customers to interact with. In addition, the continuing storylines from the first game are well followed and it’s nice to see familiar faces return and even better to find out more about the lives of the characters I was so invested in.
Visual novels can, at times, feel as though they are lacking something in the area of gameplay but Coffee Talk Episode 2 is an exception to this rule. The sequel carries on the experience of serving your customers drinks, which not only improves your relationships with them but can slightly impact the stories you’re privy to. This still remains just as interesting and challenging as it was the first time around and it’s nice to see that even though the mechanics are the same, they don’t feel tired despite areas being just as frustrating as they were last time. If you do just want to chill out and serve drinks, you can always go and play endless mode which can be played on either ‘Free Brew’ or ‘Challenge Mode’. This mode is incredibly handy because it allows you to play and fail multiple times and is the best place to practice trying to find the right combinations.
In addition to the drinks, you now have more control as a coffee shop owner. Known in many places where lost and forgotten things go to live, Coffee Talk now has a drawer for lost and found items. The addition of the drawer is a neat little feature used to add to the immersive experience. Although if you’re like me, you’re just as forgetful as your customers and will keep forgetting to give their items back!
It goes without saying that the music and sound behind a visual novel needs to set the scene to immerse the player more and the music in Coffee Talk Episode 2 is fabulous. If I owned a coffee shop, you’d best believe I'd be playing these smooth jazz melodies to chill my customers out. The original game had 23 songs to choose from and it’s nice that the sequel was able to expand this even if only by three. The background noise reminds me of sitting in cafes whilst life is moving all around, although I do question if Seattle does actually rain that much.
- Interesting new characters
- Endless mode allows you to make drinks without fear of mistakes
- Gameplay still feels fresh
- Immersive experience thanks to the music
Some visual novel games have the tendency to sometimes feel a little slow paced, and unfortunately Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly also falls into this trap now and then. There were moments when playing Coffee Talk Episode 2 that left me wanting it to speed up a little. There was a moment when two characters were arguing and all I could think was how I wanted this to be a little faster so that it could feel a little more realistic.
Being the main form of gameplay, creating drinks can become repetitive after a while. It’s not a tired type of gameplay but gosh it is frustrating! Knowing what the gameplay would be like, I ended up spending a lot of time in endless mode trying all the different combinations in every conceivable way I could imagine. Some were old classics to fall right back into the swing of things but there were a plethora of new creations to explore. When all was said and done, I must have spent over two hours in endless mode, trying and (mostly) failing to find the new 25 combinations and all the while getting frustrated.
- A little slow in places
- The drink making mini game can be a tad frustrating
Final Score: 8/10
Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly feels like a warm welcome home. The characters are familiar as ever and the addition of new characters helps to expand the story. Although slow in parts, this doesn’t majorly impact the gameplay and, more than anything, just makes it a little frustrating, taking you out of the overall experience now and then. For those unfamiliar with the whimsical coffee shop featured in the game, it is best to go back and play the first Coffee Talk entry (and maybe read our review) so that you are able to get the most out of this sequel. Still as charming as ever, Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus and Butterfly is a complete and well formed example of what a sequel should look like.
Thank you for checking out our Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly Switch review, thank you to Chorus Worldwide (via Stride PR) for providing the review code and thank you to our Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: