Welcome to Susan Arendt's eighth column on Pocket Gamer. That's right, we've been running these columns for two months now! As you know, in 2018 we've sought out the best writers and most experienced gamers in the industry and asked them to inspire us. Today Susan is employing her organisational skills on an indie classic from a few years back...
Hello. I would like to speak to the gleefully obsessive out there. Those who are aware that strictly speaking you don’t need to three-star every level to finish the game, but haha, of course you NEED TO THREE STAR EVERY LEVEL. You are my people, and I would like to introduce you to Cook, Serve, Delicious.
This is the kind of game that makes an efficiency addict coo with pleasure. We’re the sort who will replay a level over and over again, because we know that we can do it just a little bit better if we do things in this order or maybe speed up the time it takes us to do that task but then again maybe if we just-- and so on, for hour upon happy hour.
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Your goal in Cook, Serve, Delicious is to gradually improve the restaurant in an office building by cooking meals to order and keeping customers happy. More revenue means you can upgrade your equipment and add to your menu, eventually becoming a Michelin Star-worthy eatery.
The basis of the gameplay is reminiscent of time management sims like Diner Dash, where you carefully monitor what’s cooking to make sure it doesn’t burn while keeping on top of tickets so that angry unfed patrons don’t walk out the door.
The more complicated a dish, the longer it takes but the more money it makes, so mastering Cook, Serve, Delicious is as much about memorizing recipes as it is balancing your menu to ensure you can turn plenty of tables but also earn a tidy profit. Working your way up to the really posh restaurant is challenging and entertaining, but it’s not where the game’s real fun lies. Oh, no. No, the true delight is in obsessing over the myriad ways you can tweak your approach to each day’s diners.
Different variables impact what a guest is likely to order. If fish is on the menu, fewer people will stroll in for breakfast, but if it’s a rainy day, comfort food will be ordered more frequently. Whatever item you place in the first spot of your menu is guaranteed to be popular, but food prone to spoiling has to be rotated out of your offerings every few days. Staples like soup or salad can live in your menu forever, but won’t net you any tips.
I’m cackling with spreadsheet-flavored happiness just thinking about all the ways to arrange those factors to make the most money possible in a day.
Is such ridiculous overthinking of how to play necessary? Oh, goodness, no, not even slightly. Cook, Serve, Delicious is a great mobile game even if you give it no deeper thought than putting the most expensive stuff on the menu and trying not to piss anyone off by taking too long. But I think the fact the strategizing isn’t required makes it extra fun. It’s something to luxuriate in, to ponder while I’m stuck in traffic or in the shower, rather than a nut I need to crack simply to advance.
It’s a little like adding an extra gameplay mode, and for me, it dramatically increases Cook, Serve, Delicious’ already ample value. Discovering the "best" way to manipulate the customers, social media, health inspector, menu items, and restaurant upgrades to earn as much cash as possible is a puzzle laid over top of the real gameplay and if I’m the only one who can see it, that’s fine by me.
But I know I’m not. I know you’re out there, wondering if serving an egg sandwich that doesn’t earn tips but encourages breakfast traffic would financially cancel out the drop in early customers because fish is on the menu.