While I haven’t really been into simulator games like Microsoft’s Flying Simulator, DCS, Farming Simulator, and whatnot, I’ve slowly started delving into its genre. Cooking Simulator is the latest addition to my list, and I was especially curious to see how the game is cooking after getting the chance to play the demo a few months ago.
Developed by Big Cheese Studio, Cooking Simulator is the newest addition to PlayWay’s library of simulator games. On that note, Cooking Simulator is not only about cooking, as it also involves the management side of being the head chef of a restaurant kitchen, whose sole mission is to become famous through your delicious dishes and prestigious service, by elevating your unknown restaurant to a five star rating.
Cooking Simulator boasts over 60 different dishes and over 120 ingredients that you will be using as you either go through the Career mode on the way to a 5-star restaurant or as you play in Sandbox mode, where you have unlimited resources and you’re free to cook whatever you want, whenever you want. On top of that, the game also features 6 quick tutorials that will teach you the ropes. Nonetheless, truth be told, there are a lot of things that you will have to learn on the fly, as you face new challenges.
While cooking is certainly enjoyable, I believe that Career Mode is where the real meat of the game is. This is because you get to gradually progress as you become a more experienced chef. At first, you will only have access to basic ingredients and dishes like baked potatoes, baked trout, fried salmon, tomato soup, and whatnot, but as you keep delivering these dishes in pristine condition (or not, if you’re a lousy cook), you will gain points that will allow you to unlock more intricate and complex dishes. While you progress through the game, these dishes will become more and more complex and hard to make, but they will also yield more money and fame points.
In terms of gameplay, Cooking Simulator is unique in terms of controls, mechanics, and interactivity. While there have certainly been numerous games that have made their own attempt to recreate the day-to-day hell of running a kitchen, I think this might very well be one of the most compelling ones, albeit a somewhat frustrating one too. The developers have clearly nailed the gameplay systems, with you having to purchase every single ingredient and utensil that you use, thus forcing you to to be as precise as you can when you’re adding spices or oil so that you don’t run out and have to go and quickly buy another package. However, the game makes use of a full physics engine, which makes it so that things interact in a rather peculiar way.
Simple things like chopping potatoes or pouring soup from a pot into a deep plate are quite tricky. For cutting things, there’s this meticulous process where you must align the knife and then slice in whatever way you want, which is quite cool, but ordinary tasks like picking up certain ingredients or pouring liquids can be rather frustrating. Also, from what I understand, if you happen to let things fall to the floor with the spatula while trying to flip them to grill or fry the other side, you pretty much have to start over because the game doesn’t really let you pick up whatever you dropped and put it back where it was cooking, thanks to its realistic physics system. While I more often than not, can appreciate realism, I believe that in Cooking Simulator this only gets in the way of the actual gameplay. It is truly frustrating that pans start flipping out in unrealistic ways, just because you slightly touched them. Then there are also issues where fries simply fall through the frying basket, food simply slides off the plate and if you try to pick it up from the ground while holding a plate, it just drops right through the plate itself as if it wasn’t there.
I have also run into issues with saved games, where random things would happen if I were to load a save that previously was completely normal. There was this one time where I loaded a saved game and all of a sudden an oil bottle was spilling all over the place, even though when I saved my progress I didn’t have anything in my hand. I’ve also had my timed alarms go off after loading a saved game, and there was no way to turn them off, forcing me to load back a previous save. It seems that all sorts of crazy things can happen inside this restaurant’s kitchen. There are also a few other smaller bugs, like oven doors not opening or closing or just completely getting torn from their hinges by some mysterious force. Obviously, these bugs don’t affect the player’s experience in any negative way, at least as far as I’m concerned, and they actually end up being kind of funny.
Despite all the issues that plague Cooking Simulator, but mainly the way it handles physics, the whole kitchen and cooking dynamics are really captivating. From the moment the restaurant opens and you start working on your orders, right until the end of the day during the cleaning phase where you’re just cleaning the mess that you’ve made and preparing for the next day, the game manages to keep you busy at all times. It doesn’t really matter if you’re deep frying fries, grilling salmon, seasoning, frying shrimp, blending vegetables, or baking something in the oven; Cooking Simulator makes sure that each equipment on your kitchen fills in a specific role. With that said, there’s a lot of waiting and downtime when things are cooking. Thankfully, you can use this time to prepare for future dishes, either by practicing your cutting skills or flipping food with a spatula.
The cooking itself is not really a linear process, as the number of spices and ingredients that you put on food, as well as the temperature that you serve the dish, and the time it takes you to serve it, all impact the overall score of your dish. Once you send out the dish, the customer provides you with feedback, where they’ll mention if you used too much of an ingredient, or if you cut an ingredient poorly. Ultimately, this affects how much you’ll make at the end of the day, including how big your tips are and how much fame you gain.
Ultimately, the game’s biggest failure is that its challenging nature doesn’t come from cooking, as the name might have implied, but instead it stems from the game’s control system. At the end of the day, while the game mechanics are quite compelling, unfortunately, the controls only seem to get in the way of the player, which can result in an unpleasant experience. In any case, if you can endure the finicky controls and physics, as well as the floaty mouse movement, and if you’ve always wanted to be a chef but lacked the time or the resources to become one, then it might be worth for you to check out Cooking Simulator.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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Cooking Simulator Review
Gameplay - 7/10
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 7/10
Replay Value - 7/10
User Review( votes)
Cooking Simulator is quite possibly the most realistic cooking experience on PC, but it unfortunately suffers from poor controls and weird physics.