Title: Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?!
Available on: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Publisher: Vertigo Gaming, Inc.
Developer: Vertigo Gaming, Inc.
Genre: Restaurant Simulator, Early Access
Official Site: Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?!
Release Date: January 29th, 2020 (Early Access)
I’ll admit that the restaurant simulator genre is one of my biggest gaming guilty pleasures. It marries together two of my favorite things in life – food and video games. One of my biggest issues with the genre, however, is how simple the majority of them all. So when I picked up Cook, Serve, Delicious! several years ago, it completely transformed my love of the genre. Finally, a game about cooking and managing your restaurant that’s actually challenging? I was instantly sold.
In fact, I would go so far as to say, Cook, Serve, Delicious! can be downright stressful sometimes, but (almost) always in the best possible way. The game relies on lightning-quick reflexes and a lack of butter-fingers (something I sadly suffer from). So I was pleased when Vertigo Gaming announced Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?!, a game that simultaneously feels very familiar but different.
Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! takes you away from the home restaurant comforts of the previous game and onto the road of a post-apocalyptic America. You’re accompanied by guardian angels/androids Whisk and Cleaver, with one driving the truck and the other on hand to assist you with completing orders when the stress gets a little much. There’s no pressure to utilize the help, though, and I went most of my nine hours of playtime without using it. They’re also fully-voiced over the course of a few cutscenes that appear every so often, which is a nice touch.
If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It
Gameplay largely remains the same in Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?!, though the game now progresses in levels rather than days. Each level has one or more specific themes such as Salad Envy or Simply Solids, which determines what food is available to add to the menu. Holding stations return from Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!!, with specific recipes requiring a holding station to be prepped and served, and others either able to be prepared with or without a holding station. You’re given a short amount of time to make your preparations while the food truck drives from stop to stop, with additional ‘special orders’ that only come through between stops.
You can also upgrade your food truck as you reach later levels, adding additional holding and prep stations as well as other general quality of life upgrades. You’ll need some of these upgrades as the game progresses, especially when you’re dealing with hundreds of hungry patrons. Later levels also introduce rival food trucks, which will try their best to destroy your vehicle, so reinforcements become essential.
Something that continues to trip me up across titles in the series is the keyboard shortcuts. While most recipes have relatively simple bindings for ingredients – ‘C’ for chicken strips, ‘D’ to dunk them in the oil – occasionally ingredient key bindings will change across recipes. It can cause Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! to be as much of a memory game as it is a restaurant simulator. I spent too much of my time glancing over at the shortcuts to see if coconut was assigned to ‘C’ or ‘O’ for a recipe or if mushrooms were bound to ‘M’ or ‘U”. Luckily, Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! lets you choose eight universal key bindings for all ingredients if your memory is a little poor like mine.
A Journey Worth Embarking On
The game already feels incredibly fleshed out and realized despite it still being in Early Access. The new setting will come as a refreshing experience for returning fans of the series, and the game still has engaging enough gameplay to pull in newcomers. If you love restaurant simulators, but you’re itching for something a little more demanding, Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! is a perfect game to jump in to.
Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! is out on Steam’s Early Access and GOG.com today, with the full release planned sometime in the next six months.