One of my fondest gaming memories is 100%ing the original Cook, Serve, Delicious!* even though I don’t care about achievements at all. I’ve explained before that my OCD traits mean that I went for perfect days no matter what in the first game and gold medals in the second. It’s carried over into the third game, Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?!, which is what this post is about. It’s the third in the series, all done by one guy, David Galindo, also known by his Twitter name, chubigans. The game is in Early Access, but it’s already polished and very playable.
I’ve been playing it for a week, and I just can’t put it down. In the beginning, I played one or two days at a time because that was all I could handle. As I got back in the groove of the frantic keyboard pounding, I found myself chanting the letters over and over. For example, cannoli. I use it a lot because it’s a 4-point dish (out of 5), and I did it plenty of times in the last game. In the holding sta–
Ok. Let me back up. The last game introduced the idea of Holding Stations at the top of the screen where you can prep dishes ahead of time so they’re ready to go when customers arrive. You make them in bulk, so it saves on having to make them individually. Some of them require additional steps when the customer comes. Take, for example, hamburgers (another 4-point dish). You cook the meat (M) ahead of time in the Holding Station, then when the customer comes, you have to doctor the burger to their taste. It’s not uncommon to hear me chant, “M, M, B, C, S, R,” and sometimes I’ll add a, “SEND” at the end of it. I don’t think I could play this game in front of other people because it would be really disturbing to them. Not disturbing as in horrifying, but as in literally disturbing.
When I first tried the Holding Stations in the last game, I was against it because it was just one more thing to have to deal with. Now, however, I don’t know how I ever lived without them. It’s a godsend to be able to fill five or six orders at once rather than each individually, and then just have to fill it out once when they’re all gone.
Anyway, back to cannoli. In the Holding Station, I hit C four times, then D to dunk. That makes 16 cannolis. Is that the plural? Nope. Cannolo is the singular and cannoli the plural. When someone orders the cannoli, I hit their Prep Station then start chanting, “C (cannolo), V (vanilla), space (change pages of ingredients), C (cherry), O (chocolate sauce), P (powdered sugar)” for the classic cannoli. This combination is so ingrained in my brain that if the first two ingredients are C and V, it’s hard not to automatically follow it up with another C. That’s one of the downsides to this game–if my brain has to stop and actually think about an ingredient, that fucks up my whole flow.
I’ve been trying to be a little more lenient with myself if I mess up, but my tendency is still to start the day over. I’ve come up with a rule that if I make it to the last stage of the day with a perfect record, I can finish the day no matter what. Then immediately try again for the gold. One time, I fucked up on the very last dish, and it enraged me. I accepted it and finished the day, but I was so mad at myself. The worst is when I make a mistake and can’t change it even if I haven’t served the dish yet. I wish that was an option, but I can understand why it’s not. In addition, it would probably make things harder in the long run because I would be constantly checking myself, and therefore, probably wrecking myself.
One thing I love about all these games is that they are so silly and over the top. This one starts after the apocalypse, but such a bright apocalypse it is. My restaurant from the previous game is the number one restaurant in the world–and then it gets bombed. Two robots, Whisk and Cleaver, are scanning the area for survivors, and they find me. They give me their truck and offer to help me, and so, our travel around the war-torn country in 2042 is on! There is a story of sorts, but it’s pretty bare-bones at the moment. I’m assuming there will be more to it as I go, but I’m only in the second area–Moab, Utah. The first was Boise, Idaho.
There are so many changes I like about the third game in the series. One, no chores. Oh my god, the chores. I still have bad memories about the chores in the first game. They were ridiculously complicated, and while you could buy upgrades to make them shorter, they were still a pain. Two, getting rid of the inspector, also from the first game. She would show up every so often and watch to make sure you did all your chores. The dating aspect in which a potential suitor would come in and you had to have a certain dish on your menu and make sure you made it perfectly. Then, later, they’d come back, and you had to text with them while serving dishes. It was funny in theory, but way too stressful in practice.
Things I don’t miss from the second game–the Chef For Hire restaurants. There were just way too many of them. And, they took away from the main restaurant. Which, by the way, felt kind of pointless once I reached five stars. Which wasn’t even the end of it, much to my dismay. The end game really trailed off, and I kind of just lost interest. There’s a story to this game, and I’m hoping that it gives me something to work for beyond the achievements and the perfect days.
One thing I do miss from the second game–decorating the restaurant. I know I was in the minority, but I found it really soothing and relaxing to decorate my restaurant at the end of a frantic session. I liked to make themed restaurants and use dishes that match the theme. I spent an embarrassing amount of time making sure my restaurant looked just perfect, and I hope that the trinkets in this game will do the same thing when they are added.
I miss the emails, but I’m also fine that they’re not in the game because they wouldn’t make sense in the context. I really just love the energy that chubigans puts into his games and how responsive he is to his fans. The graphics suit the game perfectly, and I’m glad he carried the aesthetics over to the third game. Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how absolutely gorgeous the food looks. It’s been a hallmark of the all the games, and it’s doubly present in this one. Do NOT play if you’re hungry because the game will just make you hungrier. Another throughline is the wacky histories of each food. There is a grain of truth in some of them, but then they spin out into silly explanations. The two foods of my people, Pig’s Blood Cake and Taiwanese Shaved Ice are both back. I’m a little miffed that the former is one of the Taiwanese foods included (I’ve had it. It’s not great), but I’m just thrilled we’re mentioned at all.
I’m embarrassed to admit that it’s taken me until game three to figure out how to rebind the keys. Most of them are intuitive, but once in a while, there’s an eyebrow-raiser. It wasn’t so bad in past games, but in this one, there’s one dish for which it really just fucked up my brain. It’s pho, and for whatever reason, cilantro is L and lime is I. Lime is in every dish of pho, and it makes no sense to make it I. I finally looked it up, and now lime is L as it was meant to be. I have the additional issue that I want cilantro to be C, but chives is C. I could change it to H, but it comes before cilantro in the list of ingredients, which means in my brain, it should be C rather than H. My brain is weird. Why so weird, brain? Anyway, I’m happy I finally figured out how the hell to change the keys, and hopefully, I won’t get too stuck in it.
It’s hard to express how addictive this game is for me. It feeds that part of my brain that is obsessive AND compulsive, and I have to literally force myself to stop playing. At the end of a particularly stressful shift, I can feel my heart beating rapidly. chubigans just included achievements, and I’ve been obsessed with doing the ones I can. Most of them have to do with getting gold medals, so I’m already ahead of the game. Even though I’m not an achievement hunter in general, I’ll probably try to achieve 100% for this game. Of the achievements revealed so far, they all seem attainable.
I love this game. It’s different enough–oh! I forgot to say that there’s another quality of life change that really improves the game–having a button (Control) that allows…Cleaver, I think it is….to serve the food instead of having to individually hit each number. The QOL improvements have really streamlined the game, and I’m eager to see where it goes from here.
*Until David Galindo, the dev, added more content.