HomeNewsCoffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly Review - Similar Cozy Chill...

    Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly Review – Similar Cozy Chill Pill, But Not Fully My Cup Of Tea

    Developed By: Toge Productions

    Published By: Toge Productions

    Platforms: PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Series S, PC

    Reviewed On: PC (Gamepass)

    First and foremost, if you do like the prequel of the same series, you will feel right at home with this title as it features many returning characters, so much so that it’s really recommended to play the prequel first to know the characters beforehand as there are no recaps for newcomers and returning players much like myself may have forgotten the story in the first place as there are long gaps between development.

    In my summary, I would best describe Coffee Talk as a unique indie visual novel set in a local small cafe in an alternative version of Seattle, 2023 populated with a mix of a diverse cast of races, ranges include from mythical creatures like werewolves, vampires, elves and all the way to Satyrs. Where a cafe actually remembers your name, stories, conflicts, and the usual drink of preference each time you visit – resulting in a world that players would love to settle into. But while I do enjoy my few hours finishing the game with most of the returning patrons, their story, songs, and reworked art made – I did not enjoy the storytelling placements which kinda felt less cohesive and a more passive approach compared to the first prequel, which in turn made it look like a form of DLC with some new gameplay elements on the side rather than an actual new experience. Here’s my review of Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly. Since this is now referred to as episodic, I will refer to the game as Episode Two for a short while the prequel is referred to as episode one instead.

    Storytelling – Lack The Spice Of Life

    In a world of the internet, it’s pretty hard to connect with people in general; even more so in a cafe filled with unknown new-faced strangers minding their own business. However, in this work of fiction set in a fantasy cafe, it’s easier once the barista makes a splendid coffee that allows you to open up and spill the beans – a truth-telling concoction. The thing is storytelling really works in part one where there was a deeper emphasis on themes relating to meeting new faces, joking teases, different racial challenges/obstacles, conflicts in relationships, and the mystery of the main character as well. This in return makes episode one truly special with the refreshing pace of conflicts that unfolds new stories from any characters which in turn seems to have a bitter-sweet reconciliation between parties including towards the interesting ending scene of episode one whereby the true identity of the barista is revealed.

    In episode two, however, the story tells a similar warm tonal approach of a slice-of-life segment but seems to stretch itself thin by revisiting familiar grounds and rehashing old relationships bonding – a reunion of sorts to commemorate episode one. While the new characters are just a few, their every storytelling seems to outweigh, and also segregated stories as well as monopolize a significant amount of screen time, leaving less room for other characters such as returning favorite Freya to shine – resulting in pushing her segment to near the end of the game. The thing is while there are many returning characters, their stories seem more laid back, making them less compelling, lack refreshing excitement in terms of pacing, and more driven towards the continuity of their successful life such as careers, marriage, respecting the dead, and contracts with fewer conflicts and less major personal growth in-between. Later, this pretty much trickles down to mere short gameplay of hangout between returning friends to simple segments of asking them ‘What’s up with you these days?’

    As of now, I find that there is a lack of cohesion and a need for constant recapping of current stories between patrons making it feel cut out, out of pace to keep track of, and appreciate their narrative as a whole. While this is not a major issue for casual slice-of-life storytelling, a focal point is needed as a lack of it tends to limit the relatability and impact of the stories as it goes day by day. Trickling it down to just hi, be yourself, and bye form of storytelling with a lackluster ending, leaving more question marks of just looking through my drawers at the end. In episode one, there are instances of gossiping or talking behind each other’s back to relate back to tie in and bridge that needed gap, later on, to make it relatable to one another by sharing layers of relatable stories hence decreasing the need for constant recaps.

    While the returning patrons are portrayed as admirably successful, I couldn’t help but feel that their stories lacked the depth needed to portray their personal struggles, failures, and success stories, I mean they are humanized after all – however, episode two storytelling tends to lean on the fictional approach turning them into a squad of care groups. What I mean is that episode one tends to make a patron share layers of stories of their struggles with another as a form of indirect layered advice to make it through the day, while episode two seems to turn them into a group of listeners, listening in and giving advice on the fly. This in turn makes it a more linear and one-sided approach to storytelling without shedding more light on the listener’s side of the fence.

    Moreover in episode two, compared to the strong start with the introduction of the new character Banshee, who comically struck fear in everyone, later on, the overall storytelling turns muddled and the patron’s personalities are reduced to merely being nice and acceptable to one another by saying sorry and all that. Without the layered complexities needed to shed light on the world and its inhabitants of diverse races. Adding on, episode one focused mostly on personal growth while informing through their stories of the outside worlds and community affecting the character’s developments and resolve. Episode two is more stuck in an inward bubble of just one-sided personal growth affair with the same circle of friends, resulting in the one-sided separate storytelling stuck in their own world with some add-on of self-promotions added into the storytelling as well, like the game’s music album, with less contribution to talk about the world outside and its community.

    While having friendly patrons on the go is nice, it detracts from the character development and world-building approach to earn that place in friendships – concocting it into a bland story instead of a blend of a spicy mix of stubbornness banters, teasing, and rowdiness individuals that come in all shapes and forms (challenging more of the barista’s values and beliefs in return). As previously noted in episode one – arguments, banters or slight teasing elements often lead to an ease of understanding each other better, leading to better bonding including playful typo. Yet in episode two, there is a lack of whose said elements to build that right-core interest to players in the relationship in the first place as well as making the characters even more likable. Because being merely nice only just doesn’t fit the bill in terms of making close friends, almost being portrayed as pretentious, just to hear for the sake of it. Feels as though the original writers themselves have changed or changed in story directions in episode two.

    On a side note, there is also an interesting story of an old tree story with signs of paranormal beings in the game but they heavily relied on the description from the characters themselves about the street and roads instead of providing more visuals clarity in social apps or a clearer vision in maps (fictional Waze may be or Gruber), which would have been helpful given since this is a visual novel. So that story kinda got me lost midway because of the initial directions alone.

    Gameplay – There’s Something New Here But Still Not Enough

    Thankfully as a barista, there’s no need to worry about remembering everyone’s name but players flex their memory by selecting three ingredients to make a drink for each patron based on their preference. With selections of green tea, tea, coffee, honey and etc. as well as new additions of hibiscus and blue pea tea leaves with only five attempts to get it right based on the title of the drink served. Failure to do consistently may result in negative reactions, with added bad endings such as patrons not returning.

    While at first the patrons informs you of the drinks they prefer and certain races require you to make certain remedies to aid them in certain situations. Later on, players’ memories are tested further by remembering the patron’s usual drinks, and the said remedy. Furthermore, there is an included section for returning items via lost and found where you serve drinks while returning items dropped or exchange documents left by patrons to each other, in order to keep in touch such as their calling cards. Dragged out of the drawer, this adds a layer of point-and-click gameplay as certain situations require you to think about returning an item or giving it to another character to help them more, this also adds creative solutions department into gameplay however this is but only a few and far between.

    There is also an added feature in the Tomodachill, a social app to read about the character’s temporary story post on their social feed walls that felt exciting at first but turns gimmicky like the endless mode in the game. In my opinion, the social app feature can show more of the said patrons’ moods and add a new layer of preference in drink making by incorporating the patron’s moods and preferences on their wall posts today. Another example is if a patron is in a bad mood and is especially not talkative today, their wall post mentions something about something sweet as a pick-me-up drink to lift their moods. Other than that, I can’t seem to find the exit button for the game, forcing me to quit after every run.

    Art, Sound, and Songs – A Spot On Frothy Escape

    Although without voice acting, each character’s unique text dialogue running sounds uniquely their own to represent the personality and tapping their voices in the player’s head. With added sounds of the rain drizzling in the background adds a sense of chillness and comfort to the atmosphere of the game. The Lofi songs on the other hand, soothingly elevate the game atmosphere even further either chill jazz or a form of frothy cafe song that starts off with a few kicks of the bass drum and then hit with gentle metallic clasps sound (aka castanets maybe?) of percussion, sipping-ly cascades downs with MIDI melodic jazzy Lofi tunes off a piano and beats of soft drums. The overall tone is best described as warming hearts with a gentle escape from the drenched cold streets running in the background portrayed at the shop’s windows, to break away from the noisy thoughts with a simple escape of a warm-hearted brew and good company.

    While the songs and sounds are spot on, the art department seems to retain the mild pixelated approach on each character in their designs, with more added decorations (zoomed-out camera perhaps), smaller rainwater droplets, and slightly brighter lighting compared to episode one, adding a bit more details to the background. Nothing much has changed however I noticed that there are fewer expressions portrayed by the characters compared to episode one such as sighing, turning into a werewolf, or being tired from sleepless nights.

    What I Liked About Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly

    • Sound and Song – A good frothy escape.
    • Gameplay – Solid coffee-making selections with added new flavors and returning items can be point-and-click creative solution gameplay.
    • Art – Retained art design in both atmosphere and characters. With some random cute cat coming into the shop for no reason, which in itself is likable.

    What I Wished Was Better

    • Gameplay – The point-and-click element can be so much more like for example Tomodachill social app as showing indicators of patrons’ drink preferences indirectly. Adding on can’t exit the game, and have to force quit – unsure if this issue is exclusive to Pc game pass only.
    • Art – Needs a bit more character expressions and body language to make them even more likable.
    • Story – Less compelling storytelling. Felt rather segmented and muddled compared to episode one. On the niche side, some noticeable spelling errors that were not intended.

    Verdict – Better Latte than Never

    In my overall gameplay, I do enjoy some degree of the game’s retained atmosphere, character designs, songs, and sounds with added new gameplay to spice up my interest level. However, that being said, the main issue or what I believe to be holding the game back is the main meat of the dish in itself which is the storytelling itself, which, while retaining some of its tonal approach and delivery, lacks the engaging pacing, playful tease yet memorable conflicts to beef up my interest levels to know more about the characters, their community, and ultimately the world building in itself.

    Suggestively, if you are a new player of the series, I would recommend playing episode one only and holding off playing episode two until episode three comes out and binge-playing it all together later because episode two storytelling and cliffhanger ending makes it feel barebones like a continuation of a DLC rather than a full fledge meat of the game compared to episode one.

    Final Score: 7.5/10

    He is actually very shy, introvert but no choice, have to go out to buy games. He likes food and food likes him. He somehow manage to find a job with the right time accommodate to gaming. He has a very short attention span, therefore has to finish a game fast or else a simple pun can distract him for the entire day. Yes a Pun, he loves puns as much as he loves games; easily distracted, whichever comes next.

    Latest News