Imagine if a coffee shop was like a bar. Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly builds on its past success with more character-building and coffee-brewing gameplay as you mingle with returning regulars from the original game and meet some new faces as well. You don’t need to play the first Coffee Talk to appreciate this one, but it adds a flavor shot to the already promising charm of the first episode. Based on my time with the 30-minute demo at PAX West 2022, I’m definitely thirsty for more.
Coffee Talk Episode 2 is set in the same late-night coffee shop as its predecessor. Barista (who can take on any name you like) recommends drinks for their patrons depending on their tastes and talks to them about their problems. Part of the story is making pretty drinks, but the main goal is to learn enough about the charming cast of characters to unlock all the endings.
Gameplay splits into two main parts: talking to customers and making them drinks. Most of the game involves clicking through conversations. Then, at some point, the game remembers that it's supposed to be about running a coffee shop and Barista recommends drinks to their customers. If the customer accepts, then you transfer into a drink-making mode where you guess three ingredients to combine into a drink. After serving, you record the drink you served as a recipe.
You often have to guess how to make the drink in question, starting with a base like coffee or tea before adding secondary ingredients like even more coffee or milk. Heck, if you just want black coffee, then you add three parts black coffee and call it a day. No worries if you get it wrong. If you do, you can just trash the drink and make a new one. The UI automatically identifies the drink after you finish making it. The drinks you give your customers can change your relationship with them, so try to make their drinks as accurate as possible.
Those who played the original Coffee Talk can look forward to reuniting with returning characters like Freya, Officer Jorgi, and Lua. We also meet two new characters: Lucas, an energetic satyr with a talent for social media, and Riona, a banshee trying to make it as a singer in the siren-saturated musical world.
Like its predecessor, Coffee Talk 2 nails the characterization of these fresh faces within a tight 30-minutes for the demo. Sure, collecting drink recipes is fun, but they mostly serve as flavor for the characters’ personal stories. We learn about these characters from Barista as they bond with each other and watch them interact with other customers.
Coffee Talk Episode 2 isn’t just about talking and drinking. It's the content of the conversations. Coffee Talk establishes early on that many people in Seattle are here living out their dreams and figuring themselves out. You’re just here to witness that as the Barista.
Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly will be available for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch in 2023.