Not that an open mind is necessary to pitch Vertigo Gaming’s newest indie title Cook, Serve, Delicious, a hardcore restaurant sim that puts you behind the counter. Of course it would be preferable so I wouldn’t have to cling to you and annoy you until you decided to play it, because you’d really be missing out. CSD is fast, fun and addictive and I know you might wonder why the word “hardcore” is thrown around but that’s because underneath it’s cartoony exterior, is a ridiculously demanding game.
CSD slaps you at the helm of a busted down, zero star restaurant in fictitious office building SherriSoda Tower. The aim of the game is to get your restaurant to a five star rating using your choice of menu strategies and quick fingers. You are given 20 foods to choose from at the start of the game however, you only have enough money for a few choices and can only purchase certain foods if the right equipment is purchased first (because you can’t really have a restaurant that serves raw food, so fries need a deep fryer etc.) Putting your menu together accumulates the “buzz” for that day. Buzz as you might expect affects the number of customers you get on that day, a low percentage of buzz results in less customers and less money to expand on your menu. Every meal has its pros and cons that affect buzz, eg. People tip more with pizza and enjoy eating it in the evening but is considered a fatty food that attracts rats, Beer’s perks mean it doesn’t accumulate dirty dishes, trash or rodents but it’s kind of frowned on to serve beer in an office block. Not that it stops them though, yes, SherriSoda Tower must be a largely depressing place to be employed which would explain why it’s seemingly full of pissheads drinking all around the clock.
Starting a new day, not surprisingly, gets you straight into to actual game part of CSD. Now, on the outside watching someone play CSD seems ridiculously intimidating. The game can get so fast and out of hand its scary. Let me give you the scenario; At the side of the screen are numbers going from 1-4 (or more depending on your star rating) the customer at 1 wants a “Double” burger (from that first pic I used at the top there). You’re given a grill screen where you have to hit M twice for two burgers to cook. You go back to the normal screen and 1 starts timing down until its cooked. Then a new customer comes in at 2 and wants a salad with ranch (hit R), cheese (C), Onions and peppers (O) and Greens and Carrots (G) but OH NO! 1’s burgers are starting to burn so you have to rush to finish this salad and get back to the burger which requires you to type another combination (B for bacon and whatnot) but at 3 dishes need to be cleaned (moving left & right) and at 4 you’re needed throw waste out (up & right). It all starts accumulating and going a bit mad, not to mention rush hour is coming up… during the safety inspection. The day has two rush hours at 12 & 6 with days beginning at 9 in the morning at ending at 10 at night. These are the most insane moments of the day that aims completely to test your food typing skills. Now intimidating as it may seem the game has a good tutorial and some foods are quite easy to prepare but the negative buzz trade-offs can be too penalising. Eventually however, you’ll get the hang of knocking salads out at lightning speed.
When the day is over a checklist of objectives comes on screen telling you how far you are away from being promoted a star . These objectives include tasks like buying or upgrading 6 meals or accumulating so much in tips etc. After that, comes the main menu where you can check emails, upgrade food/equipment and participate in catering challenges. These range from feeding the office livestock at parties and others fun places to entering “Iron Cook”, heavily based on American TV show “Iron Chef”. These can be very handy for that small bit of extra cash. Emails are the normal affair, you can be informed of new upgrades, take bets from a man named only as “Crazy Dave” who’ll give challenges for money, satisfied/unsatisfied customer feedback and the usual unfriendly blackmail.
Blackmail aside, I love this game. Maybe because it was there for me when I was dying of sickness and idly scrolling through Desura . It’s very fun and I always find myself going back to it. My one or two reservations I have with the game is that there is no verification system starting a new day. If you accidentally click on a new day you can’t really skip it and find yourself having to play the 9am/10pm day with the menu rotting and feeling unprepared. Also, as well completing certain objectives you have to complete a certain number of days too and I usually find myself completing the normal objectives faster in comparison. Which means I just have to wait until I get the star which can really seem to get in the way of progression.
Here in Ireland Cook, Serve, Delicious costs €6.99. Thats like a Footlong Sub and a drink or a bottle of wine (I have a very unhealthy diet…).
And if you do enjoy the game (I should really type “when you enjoy the game”) remember, the game is on Steam Greenlight and needs your likes. You can do that here!
Oh start out by buying lasagne. You’ll be surprised how many weeks you’ll be making them.