Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?!

Post apocalyptic atmospheres have been used as a background for creative undertakings often in the last decade. I would even say that it has been overused. Nonetheless, it is always interesting to see it explored in an unconventional way as it is in Vertigo Gaming Inc. latest game. Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! is the third in the series of cooking arcade games. This third installment offers a refreshing take on an old classic genre, and after seeing the original setting I was genuinely intrigued to see how it would play out in the main campaign. Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! has full controller support and the campaign is playable in both single player or co-op and provides hundreds of hours of gameplay.

The previous installments were rather simple. You were tasked with building your dream restaurant starting at the very bottom of the ladder. The new chapter in this series is different. It takes place in 2042 in war-torn America. Your nice five star restaurant that you had worked so hard for has been destroyed in the war. You wake up just as you are getting pulled from the wreckage of the building by two kindhearted robots. You have lost everything, but those two robots believe in you so they offer their van and their service. You cannot give up so you accept their offer and plan your comeback. With the help of your two companions, you outfit their van and turn it into your very own foodtruck. Head out on the road for a country wide trip to the Iron Cook Foodtruck Championships to regain your title.

The artwork is interesting. The food is illustrated in a very realistic manner, yet it also looks very cartoon-like in its representation. Every step for each meal is represented visually. The level of detail in the graphics is nothing short of amazing. I loved every part of the graphics from the menu to the individual dishes.

Before you start a day you will have to choose your menu. There is a point system (from 0 to 4) implemented with the higher the point the bigger the reward you will be awarded. You would think that the more complicated recipes that require more manipulation would give you higher points, but surprisingly it is not always the case. That is one aspect I would have liked to be more consistent. It only makes sense that the dishes that are longer to make and require more steps should give you bigger rewards. Some days you will be tasked with creating a special menu requiring a set amount of points increasing the difficulty level. It is not complex but does require some planning. The amount of variety in the menu is pretty impressive. There are dishes from all around the world from Jerk Chicken to escargot passing by the classic marshmallow square.

The gameplay is divided by cities which are further divided between several days. Furthermore, every day has many stops where you will be serving a number of customers. Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! appears simple but in fact you only have to start playing to realize the complexities involved. There is lots of management involved, and you need to be fast. There is no time to relax even in the more subdued chill mode, you will still be scurrying to serve the customers while ensuring that they leave happy. You have several prep stations where you will be able to prepare batches or certain staples. This means you can prepare several servings in advance, but each dish will only last a set amount of time before spoiling. Then there are the special orders that need to be made on demand. These will have to be prepared one at a time. You have to be quick but also precise to ensure the recipe is exactly as the client requested.

The mechanics are quite simple. When you make a dish, whether it be a batch of brownies or a special order of poutine, you will be following the recipe. Every ingredient has a key attached to it and preparing it entails hitting the appropriate combination of keys depending on the required ingredients and manipulation needed to complete the dish. It is deceptive. It looks uncomplicated, but the speed at which you have to complete a recipe is where it gets difficult. Especially since there are a whole string of customers to feed at each stop. If you are too swamped and need some help, you can also request the help of your robot companion. With the click of a button they will serve the customer.

As you travel and gain experience you will eventually unlock some special features. One of these is the capability to customize your truck. The cosmetic upgrades are fun and a nice addition that makes your experience more personal. There are different pictures, trophies and such to beautify your environment with. Additionally, you will be able to upgrade your foodtruck by adding prep stations which gives you the opportunity to cook more dishes in advance. You will want to temper your enthusiasm and make sure you do not over prepare and get overwhelmed. There are several different upgrades as you will discover while playing including a heat lamp so you can store the food you have prepared longer and so much more.

I found Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! to be tremendously enjoyable with its hundreds of hours of gameplay and frantic action. It is simple yet thoroughly challenging, and has an engaging storyline. The gameplay is downright addictive once you get used to the controls. Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! hits that sweet spot between mechanics that are overly complicated and some that are too simplistic to keep your attention throughout. If you like arcade games, cooking, and especially if you have played the previous chapters in this series you will not want to miss this latest installment.

Written by Vee