This is my way of playing video games. I find one that I really like, then I play the hell out of it until I’m done with it. The first game I played was Torchlight, and I gulped it down from beginning to end. I loved the hell out of my player-character, The Vanquisher, in part because she looked Asian if you squint. Mostly, though, it was just as fun as hell, and I played it for hours on end. It’s the same with Torchlight 2 (not quite as good, though I’m in the minority for saying so), Borderlands 1 and 2 (with all the DLC, but I didn’t finish all the DLC for the second game because I got burned out), Diablo 3, all the Dark Souls—
By the way, I am excited beyond belief, and a touch freaked out, because I just bought a used PS4 at a really good price FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF PLAYING BLOODBORNE. I know this is what a crazy person does, but I’m a huge Miyazaki fangrrl, and once the opportunity was presented to me, I couldn’t resist. I know this game is going to kick my ass because the shield is a no-go and magic is not really viable until the end-game, but I know I’m going to soak up every brutal moment of it.
My point in mentioning it is that I’m going to play the shit out of Bloodborne, even if it kills me, which it will. Many times. Over and over. I got the super-deluxe complete uber edition, which means the hard-as-balls DLC, The Old Hunters. In a series known for how difficult it is, the BB DLC is perhaps the hardest of the lot.
I played Salt and Sanctuary compulsively until I beat it, and then I started a melee build and made it about two-thirds of the way through before I was done. Goddamn Witch of the Lake ruined me as a melee character. In fact, the bosses are much harder to fight as a melee character than as a caster. I did beat her, but I was just Done.
The other game I played obsessively was Cook, Serve, Delicious! , which is goddamn fucking addictive. The sequel was announced waaaaay back in 2014 or 2015, and I was unbelievably hyped about the sequel. It kept getting delayed, and I was afraid it would never get published. Well, it finally came out, and I wrote about my quick impressions after playing it for several hours in less than two days. There weren’t many reviews of it because it’s really niche, but Northernlion (he’s the one who turned me on to the original) did a Let’s Look At of it that was mostly positive.
Now that I’ve played it for two weeks and have fifty-plus hours into it, I feel I can comment more knowledgeable on the strengths and the weaknesses. In doing so, I’ll be comparing it to the original, which is inevitable.
First of all, this game is a steal at $12.99. It’s crammed with activities, gorgeous-looking food, snazzy music, downtrodden customers, and tons of lore. Each food item has a page that tells you its history, and each restaurant has a made-up origin story to give it flavor, pardon the pun. The joke is that you shouldn’t play the game on an empty stomach because the food looks so mouthwatering, but the truth is, you barely notice it as you’re frantically pounding on the keyboard.
There are tons of restaurants to serve in as a Chef for Hire, and they’re all different. I have to admit, I lifted an eyebrow at a Chinese food being served in a Japanese restaurant, but I can forgive the minor foibles such as these. I’ve closed out two restaurants by doing all the shifts, and the last shift in every restaurant has no sides, which means no added patience. I have to say, one of my biggest gripes is that there’s no incentive to get higher buzz because the only thing it does is make people more impatient as they wait for their food. 80% buzz is doable because the wait time is around 4 seconds. Each different side dish gives you an extra 15 second of patience, and there are a few side dishes that are immediately prepped, which is what you want when you have 1 second wait time. However, they each serve 5 people, six at the most, and the side soups serve 15-18 people. I understand it’s a trade-off, but it makes it tedious to play my own restaurant.
Currently, I’m level 64 or something like that. Each 5 levels gives me a half star for my restaurant, and I assumed that the goal was to reach 5 stars. I was pretty excited as I neared it, so imagine my chagrin that once I did, I really didn’t get anything great. I got my usual loot crates, which, by the way, is an excellent addition to the game. I love getting rewarded for a good day, even when the reward isn’t great. Once I found out that 5 stars wasn’t the pinnacle–it said I was only halfway through the journey–I was a little deflated, not going to lie. I had no idea why I wanted to play past that point, but I did. Once I reached level 55, I got another half-star, and it was silver/platinum this time. So, apparently, it goes to ten stars, which is…OK I guess?
One of the biggest issues with the first game is that you had to grind twenty days per star. There were other conditions that had to be met, but you could pretty much get those done in the first seven or eight days. Then, you had to grind out the rest of the days. I was one who grumbled about this, but I don’t like the fact that in this game, your own restaurant is just an endless mode campaign. Once you reach a certain point, there’s no point to playing your own campaign any longer.
I love the fact that there are so many Chef for Hire restaurants, but there are too many shifts. I fully admit this is my own OCD traits, but the fact that some of the achievements are based on doing so many shifts (getting bronze, silver, or gold medals for how well you do) make me feel compelled to keep playing the same days over and over again in order to get the gold. If I make any mistake, I start over because the golds are only given for perfect days. I think that’s a bit excessive, and it makes it so that I waste a lot of my time on days in which I make one mistake. There’s an achievement for getting 200 bronze medals, which means I could get it if I do 200 shifts with 8 or less bad/OK orders per shift (that’s how you get a bronze medal). I know myself too well, though, and I know it’s not going to happen. I have 134 gold medals so far, and I’ll do the rest that way, even though it’ll take me five times as long.
The game is still undeniably addictive. If you watched me play as my fingers flew across my keyboard, you’d probably wonder what the hell I was doing. It’s frantic, and if I play when I’m tired, my brain makes very silly mistakes. Part of the game is memorizing the letters for each ingredient (which can differ in different recipes, or even within the same recipe), and it’s astonishing how it can fly out of my brain with shocking ease. I really don’t like the fact that the same ingredient can be a different letter on different pages in the same recipe. For example, the food of my people, Taiwanese Shaved Ice. On the first and second page of the recipe, mango is ‘A’. On the third page, it’s ‘M’. It’s hard to remember that in the heat of the moment, and it’s even harder to remember what letter an ingredient is when it varies across recipes. You can set a universal letter for each ingredient, but I don’t know if I want to go to those extremes.
I want to emphasize that this game is better than the original and improves on it in many ways. If you only had to play one, I’d say choose the latter. However, there are things from the first game that I wish hadn’t been eliminated. The emails, for one. The developer, David Galindo (@chubigans on the Twitter Machine), said in a note upon release that the emails will be included shortly. I hope so because it’s one of my favorite parts of the game. Two, being able to upgrade the food and kitchen equipment. It was so great to save up money in order to upgrade the quality of your food and the efficiency of your equipment such as the stove, the dishwasher, etc. The sequel has much more food in it, and I love that the equipment is streamlined in the first place. However, I miss being able to add a tip jar or a to-go menu after saving my money.
I’m glad the inspector is gone and so is the grind, however, I really need my restaurant to have more of a point. Right now, I’ve bought all the food I can. I only play my own restaurant when I want to level up more quickly, mostly concentrating on doing the shifts at the Chef for Hire restaurants.
I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t mention the restaurant designer. I know some people can take or leave it, but it’s one of my favorite additions to the sequel. After I get new items, I completely redo my restaurant. In fact, it’s my way of relaxing after a really tough shift at one of the restaurants. I like to do themed restaurants, such as a Japanese restaurant, a Chinese restaurant, a fish-and-chips restaurant, etc. I like matching the menu to the restaurant, and it’s amusing, if only for me.
I love this game. A lot. Despite the quibbles I have with some of the decisions, I can’t stop playing it. ‘Just one more shift’ becomes ‘Oh, shit, it’s three in the morning, and I’ve just played hours of CSD 2!’ It’s a labor of love of one man, and it’s well worth your time.