We’ve all had food service jobs, right? Those thankless, sweaty minimum wage endeavors that keeps you hunched over a grill, flipping burgers and throwing chicken parts in the deep fryer. You mix the secret sauce in a paint can back behind the trash compactor and your hair smells like spoiled egg salad and when you go home your college diploma arrives in the mail and you stare at it, holding it with fingers pruned from a night of washing dishes: a night you’ll never get back! A night that could have held the secret to your happiness but you’ll never know because you were busy cleaning the grease trap while your manager hit on divorcees with hair bigger than the mushroom cloud that you’d love to set loose! Let the flames engulf you, your friends, this whole fucking town!
I CAN’T TAKE IT ANY MORE!
I think we can all relate with that sort of feeling. So isn’t it funny that not only did I really enjoy 2013’s indie restaurant game Cook, Serve, Delicious!, but I’m really getting a kick out of this year’s sequel, the appropriately named Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!!. Now with two exclamation points!
The general gist of CSD is you’re a chef, or a short order cook, or a fourth-degree waffle making black belt: it sort of depends on which restaurant you’re working in at the time. You work your way from restaurant to restaurant, responding to an ever-increasing number of hungry customers. You assemble and cook and fry using various key combinations that you’ll honestly start to memorize as you get deeper and deeper down this rabbit hole.
Between orders, you’re also expected to do the more monotonous tasks. Washing dishes, setting traps for pests, you’ll even have to fight off the occasional burglar with your sweet sous chef kung fu moves. And does the game let you take a moment to regain your bearings and have a sip of water while you explain to the investigating officer exactly why the perp’s head was found in the deep fryer?
Fuck no! Veronica from accounting wants a corndog with mustard and ketchup, and goddammit: you’re gonna oblige her.
If Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! shares the strengths of its predecessor, then it shares its flaws as well. This isn’t exactly a game that has a ton of direction to it. Not that every game in the world requires a personal narrative and a compelling storyline. But the challenges placed in CSD2 require a ton of your own investment to stay interesting. If you’d like to gold medal every level of the Chinese Restaurant, then you’re going to have a lot of fun with this. However, that’s the extent of the gameplay. Excel in different styles of cooking, unlock new restaurants and diners, and then excel in those.
It’s the sort of game that I can’t see anyone marathoning, but if you like hyperactive keyboard wrangling, then you’ll enjoy this game for an hour here and there.
CSD2’s new create-your-own restaurant mode is sort of sloppy and tacked on. I didn’t bother with it too much. I suppose the intention might have been that between panic-stricken moments of tapping, tapping away at imaginary foodstuffs, you might like to relax by designing your own little cafeteria away from home. But the items you can unlock to decorate are sort of flat, and trying to arrange them in a pleasing didn’t exactly do anything for me.
Like a lot of sequels, Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! doesn’t stray too far from the original. You learn how to make new foods, unlock new venues, and scream at your monitor when you fuck up a single order right at the end of what might have been a perfect day. It’s a challenging and entertaining game with a charming art style and a cute soundtrack. Not quite as blisteringly difficult as a real food industry job, but somewhat less soul-sucking. It’s worth a look.
Review based on PC code provided by publisher. Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! was released on September 13th, 2017, and is available on PC.