Developer Toge Productions • Publisher Chorus Worldwide • Release April 20, 2023 • Platforms PS, Xbox, Switch, PC
“Seattle 2023 — A city of enduring loneliness.” So begins Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly. Despite the bleak opening and rain-drenched setting, Coffee Talk is really a story of human connection. Or it would be if the titular shop’s customers were human. In my four-day (in-game) preview, I serve a Satyr influencer, a Nekomimi idol, an intergalactic traveler looking for love, and everything in between. Fanciful as the patrons can be, the narrative is all too relatable as I construct comforting beverages and listen to everyone’s troubles.
Though a sequel, no one should shy away from Coffee Talk 2 because they haven’t played the original game. The first shift hints at older threads but quickly moves to on new territory as a trendy-looking Satyr darkens the doorway. My familiar client, a cop burdened with familial responsibilities, sips his fresh blue pea tea and makes light banter before the night’s raging storm cuts the power.
Appearing in the darkness, a mysterious banshee makes her Coffee Talk debut by scaring the wits out of the other customers. Whenever a new patron comes in, I expect a drink order to follow soon. Unfortunately, the blue-haired figure is a little unsure about what she wants. I turn to the drink-making screen, which reveals a shelf of ingredients and a beverage maker, to try to mix something suitable. But, from her polite but disappointed response, it’s clear I failed.
Luckily, Coffee Talk is a laid-back experience. Mixing piping hot elixirs isn’t a means for making money before rent is due or a magic potion to make people talk. The conversation goes on, even if the drink is a little off.
Riona, the newly introduced banshee, is aspiring to break into the opera scene but suffered an early setback. Instead of netting her jobs, the audition tape she posted online resulted only in harassment. The comments, she explains, disparage her voice and belittle her existence.
This second episode continues to masterfully use its character’s fantastical forms to make real-world commentary. I certainly can’t help but relate to some of the things Riona is going through, even if the fictional circumstances are wildly unlike real life.
I spend the better part of a workweek waiting on anyone that comes in to my late-night refuge, hearing stories and making new friends. When a new face ducks in from the rain, they pop up on my phone’s social media. I can take a moment to check on my growing list of connections anytime during my shift. Posts help sketch the person’s life out more fully than a quick chat in a coffee shop can. And, while I’m on my phone, I can even look up my discovered beverage recipes.
But the spotlight is firmly set on talking face-to-face with everyone and anyone that comes in for a drink. The atmosphere and tempting offerings allow each person to open up, revealing well-written life stories. With this first taste of Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly, I have no doubt narrative adventure fans have a lot to look forward to.
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