The unique Espresso Discuss was a recreation about, properly, espresso and speaking. Set in an alternate model of Seattle, one the place harpies, elves, vampires, and werewolves had been as widespread as people, it put gamers within the position of a barista at a late-night cafe. You had regulars who would chat about their issues, ask for his or her favourite drinks, and also you principally listened and provided recommendation. The sequel — dubbed Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly — doesn’t change a lot. And that’s precisely what makes it so endearing.
The second episode picks up a couple of years after the unique (you’ll undoubtedly need to play the primary earlier than the sequel) and takes place in the identical espresso store in the identical perpetually raining model of Seattle. The sport is structured as a collection of days. You begin by studying the newspaper headlines after which look ahead to the acquainted chime because the door opens and your first buyer strolls in. The world itself is basically the fashionable day however with the added wrinkle of a metropolis filled with all types of supernatural humanoid creatures.
For probably the most half, Espresso Discuss performs out like a conventional visible novel, which implies most of your time is spent studying dialogue. For no matter motive, your barista character actually places folks comfy, and prospects will open themselves up nearly as quickly as they sit down. There are returning characters, just like the elf and succubus couple who at the moment are planning their marriage ceremony or the precise alien who’s making an attempt to slot in on Earth. There are additionally some new characters, and for probably the most half, the fantastical creatures are used to inform deeply human tales. I might not be immortal like a vampire, however I can undoubtedly relate to the wrestle of discovering an everlasting ardour in life.
Whereas this is happening, prospects will order drinks, which is the place the principle interactive portion of Espresso Discuss comes into play. It’s easy: you’ve got a shelf of substances, and every drink requires some mixture of three of them. Generally prospects will inform you precisely what they need; in any other case, you’ll simply get a touch and need to experiment. Over the course of the sport, you’ll construct up a pleasant little assortment of recipes, all housed in your telephone (the place you too can try a Twitter-like social community for gossip and browse each day brief tales). There isn’t a lot punishment for being fallacious, apart from some modified dialogue, making it very low-pressure, which is sweet if, like me, your latte artwork expertise depart one thing to be desired.
Hibiscus & Butterfly provides a couple of components. There are colourful new tea blends increasing the sorts of drinks you can also make, and a misplaced and located drawer so you possibly can return key objects to characters. Additionally, there’s a cat that commonly seems for some motive. These don’t change a lot, although. Actually, the second episode is an opportunity to meet up with these characters and see how they’ve modified a couple of years later whereas serving to them by way of the subsequent part of their life. Whereas the writing generally is a little stilted at instances, I completely cherished simply hanging out, listening to those folks I’ve grown to know over two video games. The ending is particularly heartwarming.
A part of what makes this work isn’t simply the characters themselves however Espresso Discuss’s entire vibe. The whole recreation takes place inside a restaurant that feels designed for optimum chill. There’s the sound of perpetually falling rain and the lo-fi beats soundtrack (the unique Espresso Discuss soundtrack has been in common rotation after I want writing music), and the nice and cozy, comforting pixel artwork visuals filled with acquainted faces and steaming mugs. However there’s additionally the ritual of constructing heat drinks, which, easy as it’s within the recreation, remains to be very satisfying, particularly while you handle to make precisely what your buyer needs. All it’s lacking is the odor of freshly made brew.
It solely lasts a couple of hours, and it doesn’t change a lot from the unique, however that’s simply effective. Like the purchasers in Hibiscus & Butterfly, I simply want an area the place I can spend a bit time to ease my thoughts.
Espresso Discuss Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly launches April twentieth on the Nintendo Swap, PlayStation, Xbox, and Steam.