Cook, Serve, Delicious: A Hardcore Restaurant Sim
I enjoy cooking games more than I care to admit. There was an old, PS1 demo called Ore-no Ryouri. Look it up. It was in Japanese. I had no idea what it was about, or how to play. Despite the language barrier, I ran the kitchen like boss, and satisfied customers and stomped roaches like nobodies business! Even in an all encompassing virtual space, cooking games draw me in with the promise of being a culinary bad ass. So when I found out about Cook, Serve, Delicious on Steam, I just had to play it!
Cook, Serve, Delicious is a hardcore restaurant simulator created by Vertigo Gaming. It was released for Steam on October 8th, 2013. It is also available for the ipad and Android.
You take on the role of a restaurateur in the SherriSoda Tower. You begin your culinary dream in a rundown, small hole in the wall. You start with a few thousand dollars, buy a few simple menu items, and you're off to cook for the masses! Your goal is to create buzz, satisfy customers, and earn enough money to turn your shabby, one star hovel, into a five star, food paradise!
The game centers on an old, worn down restaurant in the SherriSoda Tower, which was once the heart of the building but closed down as business (and tenants) dropped to an all time low. But with the local economy rising back up and occupancy reaching its maximum, SherriSoda Tower has decided to bring back the old Cook, Serve, Delicious restaurant, and has given you complete control to bring it back to its old five star status of world class dining.- vertigogaming.net
With complete control over the new, downtrodden, restaurant space, you begin the game by choosing your menu items. You have a grand total of $7,500 at your disposal, and with it you must create a decent starter menu. You get to choose from a small handful of items, at first. There are 14 items on the menu that you can purchase for your restaurant. As you gain buzz and more money, you can unlock and expand to a total of 30 different dishes. These range from sodas, beer, pretzels, pizza, baked potatoes, french fries, to steak, sushi, lobster, chicken, and wine.
A lot of thought needs to go into the purchasing of said food. Each item on the menu has positive and negative effects. Each food is different, and you need to take these into account, if you want your restaurant to prosper. For instance, French Fries are a great late night food, create less dishes, trash, and doesn't attract rodents. Yes, score one for you! However, the smell will make customers sick in the morning, goes bad in a few days, doesn't generate tips, won't be ordered during Rush Hour, and is considered a “Fatty Mcfat” food. Which, if you have more than 3 on your menu, will effect your daily buzz by -5%.
So what is this buzz, and what is it good for? Well, buzz is how well received your restaurant is. The better the buzz, the better you're doing, the more people will come in, the more money you'll make, and the more you'll be able to expand your franchise with better equipment and entrées. Yes. Buzz is very important to the longevity of your business.
You can also purchase equipment, which will make your job a lot easier. The dishwasher cuts down on dishes, a tip jar generates more money, table snacks make the customers more patient, giving you more time to cook, while the garbage service allows there to be less trash to throw out. There are 18 services and equipment that you can utilize in your restaurant.
Now, once you get to the heart of the game, you set your Active Menu. You start off with four menu slots, and it's time to begin your day! When an order is up, a bar slides into one of the four slots. Be it chicken, a soda, or what have you, there is a time limit. In the given time, you need to push a button sequence to fulfil the order. Each action is set to a key on the keyboard.
Need to make chicken? Pound it six times with T, dash some season on it with S, and then hit Enter to start the cooking. A small clock shows up on the item, and it counts down the moments. When it's finished, a bar fills up, with green meaning almost done, yellow is perfect, orange is a bit overcooked, and red meaning you just burnt it. Crap. Clean a toilet with the Down key and sanitize with S. Some items, like salad, have over 10 different key strokes! And during Rush Hour, when the orders come fast and relentlessly, you need to stay on your toes to get every order right.
After the day, which lasts until 10 pm, finally ends, you take in your earning, see what kind of buzz you received for your efforts, and then it's back to planning. You can check emails, buy new food, change out menu items, buy equipment, or level up food items. Then, you begin the day, anew! It gets really hectic.
The game has a nice, colorful design. The menu items are vibrant, with a lot of subtle tones and shadows added to the artwork. Customers are varied, with little to no animation, and have an interesting design, from the old man in a hat, the gentleman with the black and red plaid shirt, the worker with a shaved head and a white T-shirt, to the older lady with the glasses, a blouse, and a hanging ribbon on her chest.
The view through the window is also really nice, as weather and the time of day also changes, from morning, to late night, to sunny, beautiful days, to rain and storms. Mornings have a warm, yellow and orange color pallet, and slowly slides to deep purples, and ultimately darker blues and maroons when night falls. It's very pleasant to look at, during the hustle and bustle of the restaurant.
The effects are nice, with chimes, and music that sets the tone. When the day is relatively slow, soft elevator music plays, giving you a calming sense as you fill orders. However, when Rush Hour hits, the music quickens, and it makes your heart pump faster, as orders fly in, and customers pack into your little restaurant, all vying for your attention and perfectly prepared food.
I really enjoyed this game! For starters, it's fun, and keeps you moving and guessing. You're never sure what orders are going to show up, or what costumers want, so there's never a dull moment, especially during Rush Hour.
The emails are always a riot to read! A lot of thought and care went into the writing, of each one. It's almost like checking real emails, but the people who write to you are, often times, crazy and eccentric. Messages are colorful, and it doesn't feel like a chore to read them. After every hard day of cooking, the emails are a nice touch to making the game feel a bit more down to earth. You also receive feedback on your performance, which is always nice to see.
The Key Binding system in the Steam version is a godsend! Seriously, being able to add your own keys to each of the ingredients makes the game a little more manageable. I was complete rubbish with the keyboard. So, I used Xpadder to bind the keys to my PC controller, and now I'm running the show, like a boss! Some may think that playing with a controller is cheating, but it works for me.
It's hard. With all the buttons, and the speed at which orders fly into the menu, it's really hard to keep up, especially with some of the larger menu items. As I said some food has over ten key strokes, and every order requires a new and different approach to the overall process. It's also more difficult when you aren't really sure which buttons on the keyboard are going to show up. If you haven't memorized the buttons and the placement of your hands on the keyboard, look forward to having a difficult time.
You can also choose the different ingredients with the mouse, but it's still really difficult to follow the demands of each individual customer. This is especially apparent when you realize that the orders are on the bottom of the screen. So your eyes move from the upper left, down to the bottom, and up to the right again. On larger orders, you'll be searching the bottom, pecking in the ingredient, then glancing down again to make sure you got it all right. Most times, you'll run out of time or get the order wrong all together.
This game was made for a touch screen. As intuitive as the controls are for the PC, I can see myself blazing through the preparation if I was only able to touch the menu items. This isn't a drawback, just a thought, and something that was constantly on my mind as I was playing through the PC and Steam version of Cook, Serve, Delicious. I think controller support, sort of like the controls in Ore-no Ryouri, would really make this game sing! As I said, just a thought.
Cook, Serve, Delicious gives you a lot of freedom to choose and grow your restaurant business. I do wish there were more of a variety of dishes, and the ability to create something unique for my menu, from scratch, would have been amazing! But as it stands, this is a worthy restaurant sim that anyone who loves cooking should definitely look into. It's quirky, fun, fast paced, requires a bit of quick decision making, and has a bit of a challenge. It's available on Steam for $9.99.