Cook, Serve, Delicious
It’s time to put on your chefs hat, some comfortable shoes and sharpen your skills. The hours ahead are long and hard to get ahead in the world of catering and this is beautifully simulated in Cook, Serve, Delicious. It was developed by Vertigo Gaming and originally release back in 2013, currently available for Linux, Windows and OSX via Steam (£6.99) and HumbleBundle (£7.99); there is also are versions for iPhone/iPad (£3.99) and Android via Google Play (£2.57). The sequel is in heavy development at the moment and due to be released sometime in 2017 and I think it’s due to be on all the above platforms plus the Xbox One and PS4.
You are the newest tenant of Sheri Soda Towers, a high-rise building in the middle of a bustling city and before you lies the immense task of making your brand new restaurant profitable and popular. To do this you are given starting funds of $7,500, with this you must buy your basic equipment and pay for a few base recipes in order to fulfil your customers’ requests. Available to buy from the beginning is a grill, deep fat fryer, and stove that give you the basics to grill, fry and boil your way through the first few days of opening. Foods like salads are mostly served raw but something like a burger will need to be grilled first and then put together as the customer requested. Be careful not to leave something too long on the grill or in the oven, if you serve a customer burnt food or the wrong order they will leave unsatisfied and that will affect your reputation. With the desktop edition, orders are put together via the keyboard but the game can be played with a gamepad but this is not my preferred method. Each recipe gives you a bunch of keys to press and sometimes an order in which to press them in. You continue serving until the day is over and you get to go home at the end of the day, count your takings and put your feet up.
The money that you earn goes directly back into the business adding new dishes to your menu to keep it fresh, purchasing upgrades to existing dishes and investing in new equipment to help with efficiency. The whole game really focuses on the art of keeping your combo going, the higher the combo the more buzz you make, the more buzz you make the more customers you get and therefore make more money.
Like any good catering simulator (Cooking Mama being one of my favourites) the game revolves around keeping your customers satisfied. This is achieved by serving whatever food they request from your menu efficiently and to a high standard. In the story driven game you may have a maximum of four orders waiting at any one time, you switch which your order your working on by pressing the number 1-4 on your keyboard or by clicking the order with your mouse. You’ll soon learn a few basic combinations and your fingers will become adept at finding the right combinations. While playing I found myself repeating the order which triggered things in my brain to press the right keys. It’s not exactly new and innovative gameplay but I think it’s a very clever use of the format. Every day there is usually at least one Rush Hour event where the customers come thick and fast. You have to keep a cool head and I have found trying to process the orders in the order they came in which is fine until you have to put something on to bake and then have to juggle 3 other orders before you can come back to it. Along with the faster order you still need to do your chores like keeping the toilet clean and washing up. These events are staged in a similar way and after a few goes you find your fingers automating the actions so they take up less brain capacity but certainly during Rush Hour events make everything a bit more stressful.
At the end of every day you get to look through your emails (yes, there is even a spam filter!), read any feedback, announcements and then prepare your menu and fingers for a whole new day. On each level you’re aiming to get closer to the stars that will improve your restaurants reputation. Think of it like a Michelin star system where the more you have the more you can charge but the dishes get more complex.
For such a low price product you certainly get a lot for your money. It comes with the single player campaign, a local co-op mode and there are weekly challenges, leaderboards as well as Iron Cook (a parody of the TV show Iron Chef) mode to compete against your friends or other people on the internet.
At times the game can feel like some sort of typing tutor and I don’t mean that in a bad way. The tension during a Rush Hour event can be quite intense and really get the sense of panic flowing. I love the fact that hidden away in the options is the ability to re-map all of the keys for all of the recipes should you come up with a key combination that works better for you. It’s certainly never dull, repetitive yes but never dull. There is always something new to aim for and some way that you can try and extract more money from your customers.
Have you played Cook, Serve, Delicious? If you’re interested in the development of the sequel, then I would advise you keep an eye on the developers Twitter account for it’s release date. If you have played the local co-op mode or have some feedback on the game or this review then drop us a note in the comment section or catch us via Facebook, Reddit or Twitter.