As far as I care, Vertigo Gaming Inc. has been on a roll ever since they released the first Cook, Serve, Delicious! way back in 2013, which I played shortly after its release. I remember quite well that when I first found out about the game, I was very interested in it but also extremely sceptical at the same time. This was mainly because the premise was very promising, but I was afraid that it would get boring after a couple of hours. Well, it turns out that my fear was misplaced, as once I started playing it, I didn’t let go. I’m pretty sure it was all I played for a week or two. In any case, roughly 4 years later, the sequel was released, but although I bought it as soon as I could, I actually never played it. There wasn’t any particular reason for not touching it, I just think I was busy during that time and the game eventually fell into obscurity in my Steam backlog. It’s a shame, but maybe now I’ll actually go ahead and play it.
So, fast forward 3 years and here we are, Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! is now out, even though it actually released in Steam’s Early Access earlier this year, back in January. The question is, is it worth the wait? For starters, it’s important to take into consideration that, just as I mentioned above, I never got to play the second game, I only played the first one and that was years ago, so I can’t tell what changed between the previous game and this one. Furthermore, I can’t really remember everything from the first one because I played it many years ago, so if you were hoping to find a comparison between the different entries in this franchise, then I’m sorry to tell you that you won’t find that here. Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! is, just like its predecessors, a game where you not only cook and serve hundreds of different types of food, but also where you manage your own restaurant.
For a game that’s been released in 2020, the beginning of the game is actually on par with the current state of the world, as there has been nothing but tragedies this year. The year is 2041, and after working your way up the chain and finally having your own restaurant, Cook, Serve, Delicious, be considered the finest restaurant in the world, what’s the worst that could happen? Well, unfortunately, war broke out in the USA, and your restaurant was completely destroyed as a consequence, but hey, at least you’re alive and well. That’s thanks to Cleaver and Whisk, two Search & Recovery androids who choose to help you rebuild your legacy by lending you their truck to serve as your mobile restaurant. And so, you embark on a journey across the USA with these two lovely androids, serving as many people as you possibly can along the way. The story is clearly not the focus, but I’m glad that the little moments of dialogue between Cleaver and Whisk while you’re on the road are actually quite funny.
This means that you’re going to be driving around across different states delivering food to people. Each stage is represented by a day in your journey (there are over 380 of them!), and each State takes you multiple days to cross. Given the circumstances, this actually changes how the cooking is done this time around. While you’re on the way to your next stop, or your first stop for the day, you actually get some special orders in advance and so you must prepare them beforehand, but you can also see how many orders of each item you’re going to get once you arrive. This not only means that you can actually save a lot of time, but you end up saving space in your workstations, as you won’t have to be waiting for things to cook before you start serving people. Still, you need to pay attention to how long the food has been sitting there, because if it’s been done for too long, it can spoil. Once the food is ready, all you have to do is to deliver each order to your customers, and if needed, you need to add some ingredients to the food according to the customers’ request, like sauces or toppings. Luckily, this time around there is an auto-serve function, which automatically serves all food that is ready to go.
Just like previous games in the series, the game is played entirely with the keyboard, as each key corresponds to a single command. For instance, the function keys allow you to select different holding stations where you can prepare food, Enter is used to begin cooking, while the vast majority of letters in the keyboard correspond to specific ingredients or are used for selecting which recipe you want to cook when interacting with a holding station. Obviously, if you’re just going to be spamming keys at random you’re not going to make it as a chef, as some recipes require you to put ingredients in a specific order while others don’t, depending on the customer, might not use every single ingredient that’s in the recipe.
In any case, the faster you are at typing the better, but if you try to go too fast, you might end up messing up a few orders here and there. Still, after spending some hours with the game cooking the same recipes, you’ll start memorizing which key corresponds to which ingredient, you don’t even need to look at it anymore, your muscle memory will just kick in and you’re not even thinking about what you’re doing. It’s almost as if the game turns you into a robot that’s just pressing the required keys whenever needed, you don’t think about it, you just do it. With that said, if you’re someone who tends to look at the keyboard while you’re typing, I can imagine you having a rough time with this game. Personally, I find it extremely satisfying to always be on edge spamming my keyboard and hearing all the background noise of my mobile kitchen, with the bell constantly going off as I deliver perfect order after perfect order. The few moments where I can actually relax are only once I finish the workday, and as the game’s groovy music kicks in, I always find myself leaning back and forth on my chair trying to keep up with the rhythm.
Now, depending on your performance on each day, if you manage to deliver what customers have ordered and if you do it on time, you’ll gain medals. If you don’t want to deal with the impatience of customers, you can actually choose to play each level on the Chill mode, which essentially just turns off that mechanic. However, you can only earn up a silver medal in this mode. Medals are important because they allow you to unlock more stages. There are three types of medals, bronze, silver, and gold, and different stages require a different amount of each type of medal to unlock. This means that if you want to see every single stage in the game, you better hone your chef skills.
Before each stage, you actually get to fill the menu for that day by picking what recipes you want to cook, as long as you meet whatever criteria you’re given. For instance, some days you might be required to feature high tier foods or you can only choose specific types of dishes, such as salads or breakfast items. The higher the tier of a recipe, the more complex, ingredients, and time it takes to fully prepare. The higher the tier of the food, the more you get rewarded for completing it, but they’re also harder to make. Besides that, you can actually practice each recipe in this section, and learn more about each dish, in case you want to learn more about what you’re actually making. There isn’t any incentive to have a varied offering or healthy food, what matters is making sure you meet the food restrictions for each level. According to the game’s Steam Store page, there are over 200 different recipes in the game, ranging from grilled cheese, salads, pretzels, pancakes, muffins, crab legs, pizzas, hamburgers, to traditional dishes from all over the world. Don’t be surprised if you find a dish from your area here.
After each day, the money that you earned during your shift will be converted into CrumbCoin, the cryptocurrency of choice for chefs for acquiring new recipes and trinkets, which you can use to decorate your truck. Furthermore, all the money that you earn also increases your YUM (Your Universal Mastery), and as you increase your mastery you gain parts that can be traded for truck upgrades, such as more prepping stations that allow you to serve more people, heat lamps that keep the food warm for longer, or more holding stations where you can cook. So, while you can technically complete all stages in the game with a bronze medal, the game encourages you to do your best in order to not only get these upgrades and decorations, but also to gain access to all stages, which, as I mentioned previously, is tied to the number of medals of each type that you accumulate throughout your journey.
As I played the game, I tried to come up with something that I didn’t like about it, but I honestly don’t have any complaints, Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! is probably as good as it gets. However, if I had to complain about one thing, that would have to be that playing this game makes me hungry. The art of the first game was actually one of the main reasons why I got interested in it, and Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! looks even better. There’s just something about looking at all this appetizing food that keeps me playing the game over and over for hours on end. This game, just like the first and the second, features one of the highest addicting gameplay loops that I’ve ever experienced in a video game. This is even truer if you’re like me and you really want to get a gold medal on all levels, which can actually be frustrating at times, especially when you don’t get it because you messed up a single order. If you also want to hunt down every single achievement, then prepare for quite the challenge, as some of them require you to choose tons of high tier foods for several days while also scoring a gold medal. It’s no small feat.
If you’re planning on unlocking everything and perfect every single level, I think you’re easily looking at more than 50 hours worth of content here. As far as average play time, it will vary from person to person, simply due to the way that the gameplay is heavily reliant on your ability to quickly use the keyboard. If all you wanted was just more Cook, Serve, Delicious goodness, then I’m pretty sure that you’ll have a blast with this game. With that said, I’d also say that anyone who is even slightly interested in this game should pick it up. Sure, it’s repetitive, you might change recipes, but the core gameplay stays the same, you just press whatever keys show up in each recipe, but that’s the beauty of it. Due to its challenging nature, I fear that some people will not get into it even though there’s an easy (Chill) mode, but if you manage to click with its iconic keyboard-based gameplay system, then you’re in for quite the treat.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! Review
Gameplay - 10/10
Graphics - 10/10
Sound - 10/10
Replay Value - 10/10
User Review( votes)
The only complaint that I have about Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! is that playing it makes me hungry.