Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly – Review
Follow Genre: Visual Novel
Developer: Toge Productions
Publisher: Toge Productions
Platforms: Switch, PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Tested on: Switch

Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly – Review

Site Score
Good: A cosy, atmospheric visual novel filled with engaging stories
Bad: Lost-and-found item mechanic could have been better
User Score
(1 votes)
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Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Three years have passed since we first visited Coffee Talk, the titular night-time café that was the setting for one of the more original and engaging visual novels we’ve had the pleasure to read in recent years. Developer Toge Productions now opens up shop again with Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly. Does this sequel to the beloved original story brew up a sugary sweet experience or does it leave a bitter aftertaste?


Set in a modern-day take on the classic fantasy world, Hibiscus & Butterfly allows players to return to the titular Coffee Talk, a tiny café in Seattle that only opens at night. The café is frequented by otherworldly races, including orcs, gnomes, and vampires, and as the enigmatic barista and owner of Coffee Talk, it is up to the player to provide these patrons with their preferred brew. The café’s visitors are a talkative bunch and they all have their stories to share and problems to deal with. It’s the player’s task to not just serve them drinks but advice as well. Hibiscus & Butterfly is a direct sequel to the original game, so those returning to their shift as a barista will see many familiar faces. Rest assured though that even if you’re a new employee here, you’ll instantly feel at home in the warm and cozy atmosphere.

Because Hibiscus & Butterfly features an ensemble cast, there is a wide variety of stories to uncover, although we did feel that the game was lacking an overarching story arc that tied everything together. We’d be doing the game a disservice to give away too much about the individual character arcs, although we can point out a handful of personal highlights. Take Riona, for example, a banshee who aspires to be a singer but has to compete with sirens for a coveted spot on the stage, or Lua and Bailey, characters returning from the original game, who are now planning their wedding. Of course, how well you are going to resonate with each of these stories depends on how much you relate with the cast, but overall, we felt the writing was strong. The game also touched on more sensitive subjects like prejudice and discrimination, but it did so in a realistic and not too heavy-handed manner.


The cozy atmosphere of the café setting is brought to life through beautiful, pastel-tinted pixel art. The strong art direction is most noticeable in the character designs themselves, whose body language and facial expressions help with fleshing them out. The interior of Coffee Talk itself is simple but effective, from the paraphernalia cluttering the wall to the neon street signs peering through the rainy windows. It all just works and the simplistic nature of the pixel graphics means that your hardware shouldn’t have any trouble with letting Hibiscus & Butterfly reach its full visual potential. The single-room setting does mean that the game lacks some visual variety, but the overall quality of the graphics is good enough that the game’s graphics avoid a feeling of repetitiveness.


Further emphasizing the feelings that the game wants to evoke is the soundscape, which combines a lo-fi soundtrack with the ambiance of rain falling outside. The game doesn’t feature any voice acting but we’re on the fence whether or not this is something that would have improved the game. In its current state, the game’s soundscape strikes the right balance, by being a constant presence and setting the right mood without feeling obtrusive or distracting. Without absolutely perfect voice casting, there’s a good chance that the more subtle elements of Hibiscus & Butterfly’s audio would have been overshadowed.


Just like the original Coffee Talk, Hibiscus & Butterfly contains just enough interactive elements to be perceived as more than ‘just’ a visual novel, even though it essentially is just that. The basic formula remains the same, with players taking shifts at the titular café, making comforting drinks while listening to whatever troubles visiting patrons. The brewing mechanics have been expanded upon, and include a much wider range of drinks. In fact, the game’s subtitle comes from two kinds of tea that make their debut here. In addition, a new mechanic comes in the form of lost-and-found items that pop up in the café, and these need to be returned to their rightful owners. We do feel that this aspect of Hibiscus & Butterfly could have been fleshed out further, as you only get a single shot at giving back an item, which happens to be whenever the appropriate patron visits the café next. Doing this has an influence on the story, but unfortunately, it’s surprisingly easy to overlook and forget this option. With only a single chance to hand over an item and these disappearing from your inventory after a few in-game nights, we couldn’t help but feel that this mechanic misses the mark.

What sets Hibiscus & Butterfly apart from other visual novels is the barista gameplay, which sees you combine ingredients to mix up a hot drink at the request of the customers. You’ll need to combine a base, primary and secondary ingredient and are even able to create latte art, although this isn’t the easiest to do with Joy-Cons. Regardless of your artistic skills, customers will react to your liquid creations according to how well these match with what they ordered. Meet or exceed their expectations and you’ll build up a better relationship with them, which results in them opening up more towards you. The game also offers an auto-play option for dialogue and we found that this was the best way to play the game as the text pacing is optimized here, with short pauses where they need to be, adding another layer of realism to the characters.

There are no real goals in Hibiscus & Butterfly. The game follows a set period of two weeks giving the individual stories ample time to unfold and the appeal is simply to find out what happens and push the narrative in specific directions through the available limited interactions. This approach makes for an intimate and personal atmosphere, and we found Hibiscus & Butterfly a fantastic way to unwind after a long and stressful day at work. Just like the in-game café’s opening hours, this is a game that is best enjoyed late at night, and we recommend the Switch version for this very reason, as it’s easier to curl up in bed with the hybrid handheld than with the other platforms that the gale is available on.

We should note that although the interactions you have with customers influence both your direct relationship with them as well as how their stories unfold, your influence is limited overall. Don’t expect the stories to dramatically diverge. In fact, certain events that were seemingly tied to interactions happened regardless of whether or not we acted upon them on subsequent playthroughs. This does limit the replay value of Hibiscus & Butterfly, but it is a fairly lengthy visual novel in the first place, clocking in at just over eight hours to play through once. There is enough incentive to return to the game after the credits roll as there are some secrets to uncover and achievements to unlock but it’s perhaps better to put the game aside to let things sink in instead of immediately starting over. While there certainly are plenty of titles out there in that same $14.99 price range that will offer you a multitude of game time, we still feel like Hibiscus & Butterfly is priced appropriately if you compare it to the price of a book. Even though the coffee brewing lends Hibiscus & Butterfly the air of a game, it’s still a visual novel first and foremost after all.


Overall, Hibiscus & Butterfly feels like more of the same, but given how good ‘the same’ is, that’s not a bad thing. The new item mechanic doesn’t quite hit the mark, and the lack of an overarching narrative makes for a less cohesive experience compared to the first game, but the individual stories more than make up for this. If you enjoyed the first Coffee Talk, then this will feel like coming home. Even if you’re a new patron, we highly recommend giving what Hibiscus & Butterfly serves up a taste.

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Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly - Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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