Fire up the espresso machine as you listen to the lives of old friends and new
One long macchiato coming up.
If you've worked in retail for any stretch, you get to pick out people who return time and time again, sometimes you strike up a conversation, sometimes you don't but you remember them.
I used to work in a comic store where you really got to know the people dropping by each week and playing COFFEE TALK EPISODE 2: HIBISCUS & BUTTERFLY took me right back there.
To that moment where you get a snapshot of someone's life and then they are gone again, maybe for a week, maybe for more.
It's those little relationships that this game captures so well and that still works perfectly the second time around, but just like a retail job some days blend into each other.
I'LL GET THE USUAL, THANKS
COFFEE TALK EPISODE 2 is a gently paced visual novel where you make the perfect beverages for a cast of vampires, werewolves, banshees and satyrs in a fantasy Seattle, which if you've played the first game will sound like a pretty similar pitch because it is.
You take your time to put together exactly what each patron wants with some pretty generous hints, sometimes offering up a special item to spur along the conversations or connect characters together.
If you manage to combine a perfect list of ingredients you're treated to a gorgeously crafted pixel art drink that made me thirsty just looking at it, i'm sure I'm not the only person who looked up their local store to see if I could buy hibiscus tea.
It can feel a little bit like trial and error though, despite looking at exactly what was being suggested I still managed to brew something unsatisfactory. No big deal move on to the next conversation and then jump back into the chapter select if you want to try again.
Conversations with characters over tea let you peer into their lives you learn more about grief and loss, of isolation and alienation (literally) and meet many struggling creatives trying to make their art and find a place in the world.
HEY, IT'S GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN
Catching up with characters from the first game feels just like meeting up with your old friends and I was thrilled to learn more about how their lives had been since we last met.
Meeting Riona, the uber driving banshee who dreams of musical stardom was a particular highlight and through conversations with her I learnt much more of this fantasy world Toge had created.
Sadly you don't get much time at all with Freya who was the star of the first game, who is absent for all but a tiny cameo.
It's a chill game, something that works really nicely if you're playing with friends, but I did find myself feeling like the magic of the first game didn't hit quite as hard the second time around.
If you're looking for something nice to wind down with each day COFFEE TALK EPISODE 2 might be the right order for you, but make sure you're caught up on the first game before diving in.
A copy of COFFEE TALK EPISODE 2: HIBISCUS & BUTTERFLY on Steam was provided to SIFTER for the purpose of this review.