Justice Playthrough #149: Cook, Server, Delicious! 2!!

For a game simulating a deeply stressful job via fast-click button mashing, the core gameplay is remarkably compelling. Just wish the surrounding context could give it a bit more purpose.

Page 9, Game 26: Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! by chubigans

You’re running a restaurant. The entire restaurant. Taking orders, cooking the the food, refilling the soda machine, taking out the trash, cleaning the shitter, that’s ALL you, baby. Nobody else.

You wanted to run a restaurant, fucker. Well, this is it! THIS IS YOUR DREAM! NOW WORK FUCKING HARDER!!!

You have a to-do list. Most of it involves cooking up food for the people wandering in. For instance, say a patron wants a delicious Cheesey Dog here at Max Weiners. The fundamental loop in this game is “Follow the recipe.” For the hot dog, you’re gonna need to first toss a dog on the grill. It’s gonna take a minute to cook, during which you can do other things — like queue-up some delicious pretzels, or clean the aforementioned shitter.

Yes, between or even in the middle of food orders. Your final step is “Sanitize.” Does that make you feel better? It does not make me feel better to the extent it should.

If “Cook a thing” is the first step, you have a narrow window of optimal time during which you want to yoink it off the grill. Too soon, and you serve your customer an undercooked hot dog, which will displease them. Wait too long — or just overlook that the damn dog is ready — and it’ll burst into flames. Your customers are VERY good at spotting which items on the grill were meant for them, and will storm out accordingly.

Get that sumbitch off the grill in something resembling a reasonable time, though, and you’ll have to finish the prep, by holding down the correct trigger and mashing the correct buttons.

Once you have the hot dog, the recipe for making hot dogs is honestly pretty simple

Each item has a recipe of varying degrees of complexity, with color-coded steps to help you figure out just where the hell in the menu you’re going to find them. Get everything on there in the right order, and serve! Or completely bitch it up, and serve anyway. One of these is better than the other.

If you notice you’ve done something wrong … look, you’re a proud and busy human. You’re not gonna go back or do anything over. They’ll take what you serve them and like it.

Or … maybe not. This game has a playful sense of humor that sneaks through in a lot of places, but the graphics tend towards the dour.

At Max Wieners, we serve basic sustenance and misery

My customers look beaten DOWN. Like, I’m serving a truly broken clientele. Am I charging them money? I hope not. I don’t think these people have a dollar between them. Look, bro, have some nachos. On the house. Naw, man, you look like you need a break. We’re all in this together, right?

Anyway. Some food is simple, some is a pain in the ass. Salads require no advance prep, but have FOUR goddamn pages of ingredients you need to search through. Whereas nachos … when somebody orders a fully loaded nacho plate, you hold the trigger, mash all four buttons, and BOOM! DONE! SERVED! Let the next miserable bastard in line get their food.

Gameplay is stressful and repetitive — much like running a damn restaurant. Doing well is a matter of getting used to what you need to do to complete a task quickly and move on to the next — again, like running a damn restaurant.

Unlike running a restaurant, it’s … actually kinda fun. The gameplay is pure repetition and grind, but it’s CHALLENGING. It ENGAGED me. When I got the hang of being Wiener Guy, it felt GOOD to be slamming out orders and getting shit done. I AM THE KING OF ALL WIENERS!

Of course, if you fuck up a lot, you … erm … some numbers aren’t happy with you?

For as much good-game-stress as I was being subjected to, the game doesn’t seem to have that much consequence for sucking. It was handing out some badges, and I was thinking maybe I need to collect those badges to unlock stuff, but … I don’t think I do? I think I just need to do the same stuff again and more options will become available? Maybe?

When you’re outside the grind of slinging food at the grill, the game starts to come apart a bit.

First, the game gives you a lot of pre-built restaurants to unlock. Like, a LOT.

33 levels of minimum wage adventure!

I enjoyed the game. I did not enjoy the game so much that attempting to unlock all 33 restaurants sounds like fun. The game’s page boasts 60+ hours of gameplay, and … holy shit. That’s starting to sound less like a game simulating a job and more like an actual job.

You unlock a shitload of things after every day, though. If you click on the game logo, you get to open your OWN restaurant! Where you can put those unlocked things to use! I’m not sure! I actually have no goddamn idea!

Bringing the joy of an awkward meal in your parents’ basement!

I sincerely do not know where I’m supposed to define my restaurant. I didn’t have an opportunity to name it, I sure as hell didn’t get the chance to do anything with the decor. Perhaps I need to grind a bit more to earn the right to actually use the stuff I unlocked?

I DID get to choose my menu … except for all the available slots, there was only once choice. So I didn’t get to choose shit.

Here at Basement Pete’s, we make all our food with WTF?!?! and madness

My menu consisted of:

  • Pretzels (classic and German)
  • Salisbury steak
  • Breakfast cereal (five flavors, with optional fruit toppings)
  • Prime rib
  • Mac & cheese

Are these the dishes I’ve unlocked? Is this the standard starter menu? WHY is this the standard starter menu? Who would serve these foods together? Who is coming into my restaurant? What’s going on? What is a food?

To the game’s credit, core gameplay is a chaotic clusterfuck in a fun way, even though it would benefit from a larger sense of stakes. Unfortunately, the connective tissue responsible for putting that gameplay into a larger context is severely underbaked underdeveloped. There’s no larger goal, I’m just going to my restaurant and doing stuff for the sake of doing stuff.

Which makes it an even more accurate simulator than I realized.

Do I recommend it? Tentatively. It’s not bad, but it’s not as good as it should be either. At the very least, I can pretty much guarantee you’ll find yourself done with the game AGES before it runs out of “new” content to toss at you, so hey, at least it won’t leave you wanting more.

Will the next game leave me feeling more like a bad-ass and less like an exhausted teenager who smells like French fries?

Page 30, Game 24: Books & Bone by Victoria Corva

“A Librarians-and-Necromancy Fantasy Novel”

A trip to the Dark & Horrible Magic section of the library. Let’s call that a HELL yeah.