Cook, Serve, Delicious! by Vertigo Gaming is an entry in the woefully underrepresented hardcore time management genre. Tasked with developing a five star, world-class restaurant from scratch, you’ll start by preparing simple orders like pretzels, hotdogs and soda, and eventually work your way up to steaks, complex soups and even a Bananas Foster flambe!
Still, you might scoff, is this just another generic restaurant simulation that takes its marching orders from overly casual mobile games and half-baked money grabs? Not by a long shot.
Part of the brilliance of Cook, Serve, Delicious! is that it lets you play as much or as little as you want. The game rewards success with increasing intensity through its “buzz” mechanic, making your restaurant more popular as you perfect more and more orders.
Within a game week you can go from four or five customers in a game hour to fifteen or more, depending on how quickly you can get the orders out. The subtle difficulty curve in Cooke, Serve, Delicious! is strangely exhilarating.
You also need to manage the consequences of listing certain foods on your menu. Having too many fattening options will cause fewer people to come to your restaurant. Serving breakfast foods may cause a bump in buzz in the morning, but business in the evenings will subsequently suffer.
Upbeat jazz and lounge music by Jonathan Geer will carry you along your journey. When you find yourself bouncing along to the music, fulfilling orders with keyboard shortcuts in sync with the piano, feeling wonderfully ebullient, you’ll know you’re hooked.