Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly review - We're vibing again

The key art for Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly, featuring the main characters Riona and Lucas

The key art for Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly, featuring the main characters Riona and Lucas

I really enjoyed the original Coffee Talk. Back in 2020, I had a delightful time getting to know all the interesting folks dropping into the titular late-night cafe.

Since then, it's been hard to find another game that scratches the same itch. The chill beats playing throughout along with the gloomy weather outside make Coffee Talk's low-stakes vibe somewhere I just want to spend time in.

All I really wanted with Hibiscus & Butterfly was more of the same. Let me see these lovely pals I made last time around once again, and allow me to utterly ruin their coffee orders. You wanted a matcha latte? You'll get an espresso and LIKE IT.

A Bee'n Buzzy drink in Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly
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New drinks

Gameplay is pretty much the same as the original. That is to say, it's pretty minimal. You go through conversations and occasionally make a drink for your customers. There aren't dialogue choices, you can't make life-altering decisions. It's more of a visual novel-style adventure, in which your character acts as a balancing presence for others in the cafe.

Maybe someone's having relationship troubles, or issues in their career. Your character will prod into the reasons behind it, helping the characters come more to terms with their own personality. Often, characters remark that they feel much more open in the cafe, and are able to talk about subjects they'd never otherwise go so deep into. No one's being disrespectful or unpleasant - conversations are based on honesty and emotions. It reminds me of those therapy sessions I keep meaning to get back into but can't afford right now. If only I could open up with just the help of a cup of herbal tea and a faceless bartender.

Of course, the title of the game mentions Hibiscus and Butterfly - this refers to the brand-new concoctions you can create with beautiful red hibiscus and the deep blue butterfly pea flower. The drinks look absolutely delicious. It's actually inspired me to be a bit more adventurous with my own tea-brewing. I'm finding leaves in fields, giving them a sniff, and chucking them in water just to see what happens. I'm sure that's safe.

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The characters Riona, Jorji, and Lucas in Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly.
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New friends

Despite the cast being largely made up of mythical creatures like mermaids and vampires, there's a deep-rooted humanity and charm to everyone. Old friends return, including the night cop Jorji, aspiring game developer mermaid Aqua, and soon-to-be-married couple Lua and Baileys, a succubus and an elf respectively. Each comes with their own perspective on the world, and crucially, their stories and opinions overlap with each other nicely.

Lua and Baileys are planning their wedding. I've heard from the married people in my life that this is extremely stressful. They're having issues with the splitting of financial responsibilities, with Lua's family offering to pay but Baileys preferring to cut back on costs and take on more of the load himself. It's a complex issue, and one many people can relate to on different levels. The marriage aspect, the decidedly un-romantic financial wrangling every relationship has to deal with, and the idea of a disapproving family influencing the decision of one of the parties, all ties into a tense conversation where there's no real 'right' answer.

Thankfully, the friendly customers of Coffee Talk, each with their own issues, are here to offer their points of view. Jorji has been married for years, so has a much more experienced view on the nature of relationships, whereas the new character, online influencer Lucas, is a lot more naive. No one has the correct opinion all the time, but everyone is kind and willing to offer their support to the struggles of others.

I mentioned Lucas as one of the new characters, and he and Riona are the main focuses of a fair bit of the game.

I don't mind this too much, as they're great to get to know and understand, but I would've liked to go more deeply into the lives of the characters we know and love from the first game. Lucas can be a bit annoying at the start of the game, and it could've been good to soften that with a bit more of him bringing understanding to the rest of the cast before he and Riona meet.

It's all good, though. My return to the Coffee Talk cafe has been lovely. It feels like a warm hug from old friends, even if some of them need to be a bit more specific when ordering their drinks.

Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly
Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly makes me want to open a late-night cafe and serve drinks to demons and aliens. It's a real treat.
8 out of 10
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