I wrote back in March that Coffee Talk Episode 2 is, in essence, about human connection, and having rolled credits on the game, I still feel that way. Though that connection is limited to the kind of quick interactions a coffee bar is made for, there is something very soothing about dealing with complex psychological issues in the time it takes to drink a warm beverage. Coffee Talk Episode 2 is not the kind of adventure title that will break down the barriers of your soul, play your heartstrings like a fiddle, and leave you a sobbing mess of introspection. However, it does offer a jazzy, satisfying weekend afternoon for the bar stool psychologist.
Kicking off in rainy late September and running through an equally rainy early October, the Coffee Talk sequel follows the lives, upsets, and aspirations of several unique — and mostly non-human — characters.
If I were to name a central figure in the unfolding drama, I would say it’s Riona, a banshee and aspiring opera singer. From a dark introduction to her struggles with online harassment and professional rejection to a hopeful fresh course, I served her inspiration and tea throughout. Riona even became the key to unlocking the narrative’s principal mystery, which involved murder, injustice, and the fairy folk.
Not every creature’s story was as intricate, with some characters like the would-be game developer showing up briefly and disappearing until late in the game to tell us how her negotiations with a game publisher turned out. And though I would have liked to see every customer’s tale unfold in a captivating way, I appreciate how that might have made the game, which took me a fulfilling six hours to beat, run on too long.
Of course, I had another important job to do besides getting to know everyone that walked into my shop: Preparing drinks. I ultimately enjoyed discovering new recipes and seeing patron’s reactions when I served them just the right thing for the occasion. However, the process can be hit-or-miss.
Sometimes, the customers are really clear with what they want, like when ordering tea with lemon and honey. Fulfilling these requests feels like running through the motions and handing out the unimaginative result.
Then the pendulum would swing in the complete opposite direction as characters describe their desired drink as joyful with some spice to it. I just want to take their face in my hands and say, “What does that mean?!” It’s also slightly frustrating they clearly wanted a particular drink and not-so-subtly let me know my efforts to interpret their vague order missed the mark.
Most of the time, though, I enjoyed the creative endeavor of mixing unusual ingredients to produce a bright red or deep blue concoction. It kept me engaged, changing from passively listening to other people talk to actively completing an objective. And with the game’s new ingredients, there are more recipes to uncover than ever before.
A game about chatting and making the occasional latte, Coffee Talk Episode 2 is an experience designed for a niche audience. It serves up a lightly pensive vibe and relaxing tunes to anyone intrigued by its premise and the ending tantalizes players to relive the story and uncover previously missed details. Like the hot beverages in its title, the game is heartening but not hearty enough to stick with me long after finishing it.