Review: Cuisineer may not be for everyone

Dungeon Meshi meets Rune Factory with Chef, a mix between a roguelite dungeon crawler and a restaurant manager simulation. With a fun and simple gameplay loop as well as adorable graphics Chef is a relaxing and casual pleasure.

Cuisineer loading screen
Screenshot from Siliconera

In ChefIn this game you take on the role of Pom, an adventurer whose parents left the family restaurant for her to look after while traveling around the world. Unfortunately, they took on enormous debt to be able to embark on this journey. In an even more unfortunate turn of events Pom is the one who has to pay it off or the restaurant will be repossessed.

Despite this threat, the helmsman is very careless. It’s like owing something to Tom Nook, except there are no restrictions on what you can do. You can spend your day going to a dungeon of your choice to find ingredients (kill monsters) or find building and upgrade materials. Since this is a roguelite, the dungeons are randomly generated each time, although they aren’t all that difficult to navigate. If you don’t want to go to the dungeon or have enough materials and ingredients, you can work in the restaurant. It’s pretty easy to use and reminds me of a cooking game I used to play on Facebook. This means you usually just press a button and wait for it to cook.

Cuisineer cooking portion
Screenshot from Siliconera

This gameplay loop of Chef makes a lot of fun. Usually you have to do your other job right when you get bored with the first one. For example, since the restaurant portion is so slow, I was looking forward to exploring the dungeons the next day. However, since the dungeons can be so frustrating, I want to relax a bit in the restaurant part. Neither the dungeon crawling nor the cooking are incredibly deep, either mechanically or systemically. However, it is effective precisely because of the ease of execution. It never really felt like either part was particularly missing, and the game integrated both aspects in a very smooth way.

There are also plenty of side quests that help avoid boredom in the aforementioned loop. Rewards come in the form of additional recipes that can be cooked in the restaurant. In my opinion, because most of the time you just press a button and don’t do anything Cooking mom-like mini-game while cooking, I think there could be more character-oriented rewards. Some characters are really interesting, but you don’t really get to know them beyond the surface level. Some sort of intimacy or friendship system might have made the city more lively.

Cuisineer roguelite portion
Screenshot from Siliconera

As I mentioned before, the dungeons can be frustrating. This is of course par for the course for this genre. Pom doesn’t have many weapons that allow him to attack quickly and from long distances. This is usually not a problem as you can dodge or avoid most attacks. But the enemies in the dungeon have a really annoying habit of ambushing you as a mob, some off screen, and pelting you with projectiles when you try to break away from the horde. The entire game feels very casual, like it’s something you can play when you just want to relax after a long day. So it’s noticeable how irritating the roguelite portion can sometimes feel with hostile behavior.

Cuisineer open sign
Screenshot from Siliconera

Chef is fun and I really enjoyed playing it. However, it constantly reminded me of a game you played on Facebook in the mid-2000s, or something like that Mabinogi. There is no life in the city if you don’t get to know everyone so much. Although I personally enjoyed it, I liked it as a relaxing game, especially because I barely had to think while playing. There were no consequences for anything, so I didn’t have to worry about my debts or my death. Therefore, its simplicity and lack of deeper content can be crucial Chef a little boring for someone else’s palate.

Cuisineer is available on Windows PCs.

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