Thursday, 13 February 2014

Post of the day: small game Thursday - Cook, Serve, Delicious!

Entering an industry where I am likely to remain a small Indie developer made me look realistically at the kind of projects that I could do, thinking about what I could do I decided to take a look at what has been done. The games that I'm going to be showcasing here on Thursdays are going to be small and made by Indie developer companies. However while the games that they made are small in my opinion they are genius. These games made me come back to play them more than an actual AAA title. They are always engaging, addictive and keep you coming back for more. Some of them do something that's not done often, others just perfect the genre that they're in. So let me present to you the gem of today:

Cook, Serve, Delicious! 

The game was made by Vertigo Gaming, an indie developer company that seems like a nice one. Their blogs are always heartwarming, it's obvious that this kind of success that they had with the game was not expected. The person responsible for making Cook, Serve, Delicious! is also running a series on Gamasutra about how hard it is to get profit from your games. I do suggest you all go and read it. It will give you a better insight about what kind of humble person David Galindo really is.

Enough about the developers, let's talk about games

When you enter the game you're greeted with this menu:

I am running a five star restaurant by now, but don't worry all of this gets introduced to you step by step. At the top of the screen you see how much money I have, I can spend that money to buy, upgrade food and buy equipment (menus on the left), equipment lets me cook a bigger variety of food and improves my restaurant. Improving your restaurant causes your guests to be more patient with you, therefore it's very important!

All that Buzz

Buzz is how attractive my restaurant is at the moment. Buzz will give you more customers and is improved by having more popular foods on the menu, that did not stay on the menu for too long (read up on the menu rot mechanic further down), getting perfect or close to perfect days where you didn't fail any orders, days after passing safety inspections, certain weather conditions and earning a new star at the restaurant. I would get buzz so high after my restaurant would get a new star, that I would utterly fail at the service and lose a bunch of buzz!
Actually Buzz is the one thing that makes this game fantastic. It allows the difficulty to be dynamic. If you fail, your buzz will fall and therefore the next day will be easier. If you succeed your buzz will increase and the next day is going to be harder.

Your Active Menu, or choose your own difficulty

This is my active menu at the moment. After playing the game for a while I figured out what foods are really easy to make and what foods are much harder. If I will want an easy day, I'll put only foods that are easy for me to make on the menu, however there are a few mechanics in the game that attempts to make you change your menu often. First one of them is called "menu rot".

It means that your clientele are no longer interested in some products on your menu, because they've been on there too much and you're losing buzz over that. The game is friendly and it will send you a message telling you that menu rot is occurring so don't worry, you won't miss it! How will I recognize the menu rot you ask? Well see how there's green staples on some of the foods? Well you'll see a red mark on the ones suffering from menu rot. Green staple, by the way, means that the food is resistant to menu rot.

Another way how the game is trying to force you out of your comfort zone is by presenting you with challenges that come to you by mail.

Previously in my mail I agreed to date this guy. He likes nachos and will demand that you have nachos on your menu when he will be coming over. I normally don't make nachos, because it's a complex food, but because I want the reward at the end of the dating cycle I am going to be making it.

Besides that the game offers you challenges that you can decide to take.

These are randomized bets that use up a silver ticket (one of the icons at the top of my screen) and then there's also steam challenges that grant you a certain amount of money for participating in the challenge for the first time.

Enough with the management, let's just get into the real game play!

To jump straight into making food all you need to do is press "Start a New Day" and start cooking! The game is highly addictive, because a day only lasts 7 minutes in real life and you keep on telling yourself "just one more day".

Twice a day a rush hour starts. (it's at fixed times - midday and 6 PM), that's the hours that will really test you. You'll get swarmed by customers and having in mind that the customer won't wait forever (when the customer is running out of patience, their order will start sliding back in, like the forth order is doing to me in the picture) you have to move fast! There are two ultimate goals - performing well enough to earn another star for your restaurant

and performing perfectly, because that will get you more money and the money will allow you to buy more things faster.

But what about this this and that?

If I didn't cover something in my review, it's because I want some things to continue being a secret. After all would it be just as fun for you to play the game yourself if I just told you about all of the surprises that the game will throw at you?

To sum up

Good things: the game is highly addictive, it requires skill and keeps you engaged by making you continuously challenge yourself. Going trough one day is really fast (only takes 7 minutes), so it's the perfect game to play even when you can't dedicate a lot of time to gaming daily.

Bad things: it requiring you to pass 20 days to go up a star makes the game a bit stretched out. When you reach about 10 days towards your new star the game settles down. The buzz is no longer over the roof and you're used to the difficulty, so suddenly the days start feeling slow. I would have preferred more stars, but less days required to gain a star.

Similar games: if you go to Vertigo Gaming website and view all of their games you'll notice that there was already a similar game made called Ore no Ryomi 1 & 2 and that it was inspired by Ore no Ryouri, a Japanese game. I, myself, have no experience with these games. The one game from a similar genre that I played before was Youda Sushi Chef. You can play a demo of that game here, however bare in mind that Youda Sushi Chef is much more simplistic.

I would give the game 9/10 (one point taken away for it requiring a bit too many days to gain a star). I would highly recommend it. The game is only 7 pounds and having 21 hours played I'm still yet to finish my first play trough. Impressed? Search the app store and get it on your smart phone, or go here to get it for your PC (if you don't like Steam, you can get a DRM free version here). It is a very good game and I would say that the developer deserves all the money he can get for making it.

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