Coffee Talk. The very first part of this cafe series charmed me with its stylization, simplicity and amazing soundtrack, and most of all I was won over by the characters, to whom I very easily formed a strong bond. In the summer, I found out at Gamescom that a sequel would be released, which I could try right away, and because the demo left me with positive feelings, I began to impatiently look forward to April 20 this year.
Well, April is here and I can finally get back behind the coffee machine and wait for customers to prepare hot drinks according to their wishes. And I talk to them about life and everyday problems.
Back to Seattle!
We are in 2023 in Seattle. Rain falls outside the windows, thunder rumbles and lightning lights up the night streets. However, one of the last open businesses still shines on the corner – Coffee Talk. In addition to the aroma of coffee, soothing music wafts through it and the occasional hissing of a machine for preparing delicious juice. The barista reads the newspaper or looks at the phone. Suddenly, a bell rings from the door signaling the arrival of a new customer. And the game begins.
The experience is actually very simple, you could almost say that it has very little to offer. The point of the gameplay is that you are the owner of the cafe, welcome guests of different races (humans, vampires, elves, orcs), receive and fulfill their orders. The unsuspected depth lies above all in the conversations you have together.
That’s what it’s all about. Reading, reading, occasional preparation of drinks and reading again await you. The game doesn’t have dubbing and doesn’t even offer a Czech translation, so if you get tired of reading conversations or don’t speak English, the title won’t be your cup of coffee.
Gala Snake or Masala Chai?
The range of drinks is quite extensive and you can have a good time playing with them. The main ingredients are coffee, cocoa and black or green tea, while this work introduces hibiscus and butterfly flower, which gave the duo its subtitle. By choosing from these basic ingredients and combining two more ingredients, such as mint, honey or lemon, you open up an abundance of different types of drinks with which you can warm up your guests.
Every incoming customer orders a drink from you according to their wishes, and fulfilling their orders is not always easy. Some will tell you exactly what they would like, but other times you only learn the expectations of the feelings that the resulting drink should evoke. You can correct this with four parameters: warmth, bitterness, sweetness and coldness. Each of the ingredients affects these criteria and it is up to you as an experienced barista to pick up the harmony of flavors in the resulting drink.
I have to admit that finding the right combination of ingredients often gave me a lot of trouble. You have to figure out the individual recipes yourself and the order of the ingredients depends. You can only screw up five drinks each night, so it can be quite stressful to fill an order. I would say that sometimes perhaps unnecessarily, when the main thing is to enjoy the story and the characters.
The authors succeeded in creating an atmosphere of calm and harmony in a pleasant cafe, and the random, sometimes senseless creation of combinations uncomfortably pulled me out of the otherwise peaceful evening shift. I understand that some will appreciate a certain form of challenge, but it would be nice if the player could at least choose for himself whether he is interested in such a thing, or if he would rather be carried away by the relaxed atmosphere.
The range of customers is not very wide. With the new part, of course, there are new characters, but most of the guests are old acquaintances from the previous part. However, it certainly does not harm anything, on the contrary. Every time a familiar face sat behind the bar, my heart skipped a beat, eager to learn more about her life. Each character has their own personality and the authors managed to portray them perfectly. To give a rough idea: There is the reckless, rambunctious influencer Lucas, the cold, sarcastic model Hyde or the experienced and calm policeman Jorji.
I don’t want to discuss the stories of the individual characters too much here, because the role of the listener, to whom someone comes to talk every night, is the best thing that awaits you in Coffee Talk 2. But I can definitely attract topics related to love, family, work, society or the meaning of being. The game is not afraid to delve into deep topics and really mess with your head. It happened to me several times that after a conversation with a guest I had to make myself a cup of tea to calm down and sort out my thoughts. And that’s the magic: Coffee Talk may look like a mindless coffee-stirring simulator at first glance, but it can offer much, much more.
The second part, not only with the characters, but also with the stories, continues in the footsteps of the first, so I would definitely recommend that you play the first episode first. It is still available in Game Pass, as is its sequel. Both parts are also sold at a discounted price in one package, on all platforms. Take a break like this on Switch under a blanket, with hot chocolate and raindrops drumming on the window, for less than 400 crowns? It’s definitely worth it.
We’re going back
In the first volume, you didn’t have much control over the direction of the story, but the writers decided to change that in the second volume. An incredible innovation is coming, namely: *exciting drum sounds* storing things in a drawer! You get individual artifacts either directly from the characters, or you find them after closing time in the cafe. When placing an order, you can then enter this magical drawer and choose which of the items you will gift to the customer with a cup of coffee.
It may sound primitive, but it is a really interesting innovation that can diametrically affect the continuation of the entire story of the given character. For example, you can hand a business card to a newcomer or return a lost lighter. But it is up to you whether you want to give him a specific thing or not (or you simply forget about it, which happened to me many times). An idle observer thus becomes a butterfly that can create a tornado with a weak flap of its wings.
The game is relatively short, you can finish it in five hours, and unfortunately the creators from Toge Productions solve it by artificially stretching it a bit. Your barista character is not quite ordinary and hides its own secret. There’s a déjà vu theme running throughout the story, and if you really want to uncover everything, you’re in for a lot of repetitive evenings and listening to the same conversations over and over again. Also, there is something to look at…
Magic Cubes (Sugar)
Already the first part enchanted me with its pixel art styling, the simple aesthetics were a real feast for the eyes. Observing the individual stages of the preparation of the drinks was still satisfying, and the changing grimaces of the characters were simple, but extremely descriptive. And I’m very glad that nothing has changed in the second version, it’s still a beautiful game that will definitely keep you with its visuals.
I felt the same way about the sound design. I’ve already mentioned my fascination with the calm lofi soundtrack, and composer Andrew Jeremy didn’t disappoint this time either. However, I don’t want to leave out the other sounds either. The drops falling on the windows, the hissing of the coffee machine, the shifting of the chairs, it all adds the right cozy and warm atmosphere throughout the game. I also have to highlight the detail of the walking sound of an incoming customer. Based on this, you can find out which of your acquaintances visited your cafe this time.
It is with such great details that the game is packed to the max and I enjoyed discovering every detail. Shadows of pedestrians outside the windows, pouring rain on the glass, stacked album boards that are currently being played in a cafe… It was precisely these little things that won me over to the series for the first time, and it continues in the same way. Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly is once again a great experience and I can only recommend a return to the old familiar coffee shop.
Source: Games by games.tiscali.cz.
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