With three entries under its belt, the Cook, Serve, Delicious franchise has a well-established play pattern in its approach to cooking simulations. However, having gotten to try out the recent demo for Cook Serve Forever, available to all on the game’s Steam page, I find myself impressed with how many changes the game has made to its core gameplay. While I enjoyed what the bite-sized demo allowed me to play, it is further afield from what Vertigo Gaming Inc. has done with its previous entries than many fans may expect.
When I discovered Cook, Serve, Delicious 3?! at PAX East 2020, I was immediately sucked in by the game’s charming presentation and fun, multi-tasking gameplay. While the charm looks alive and well, my time with Cook Serve Forever gave me an enjoyable yet strikingly more focused gameplay experience.
In past games, players were tasked with prepping multiple dishes at a time, juggling what was cooking with what was being assembled, and sending it all out promptly. Rather than balancing foods that had elements that needed cooking or other prep with foods that are assembled upon ordering, the demo of Cook Serve Forever tasks the player with simply prepping one dish at a time. While this zooms the focus in on a single dish, removing the delicate balancing act of keeping items prepped while making others on the fly, it allows the game to utilize a larger variety of button prompts for the actual assembly of each dish.
Rather than having single button presses for each step in a dish’s assembly process, Cook Serve Forever turns each step into its own multi-step combo that the player must adapt to. Pressing a button, holding a button down for a fixed amount of time, pushing any button except a specific button, and more are all strung together to make every dish I got to construct challenging, varied, and, most importantly, fun.
As I played the demo, I quickly saw a clever language form in the choice of button prompts for each dish. For example, pushing the same button multiple times would serve to chop something. I also liked how the game would make prompts similar but different for particular items, like the prompt for applying mustard to a hot dog being the reverse of ketchup. It’s fun and keeps you on your toes. I can see how the developers at Vertigo Gaming Inc. can use this simple but variable method of game design to deliver another massive variety of food options that the franchise has been known for while making each dish feel unique to construct.
The element of the game that the demo for Cook Serve Forever doesn’t touch on is the story. There has been a lot of push from the developers about how much more story is featured in this game. A single cutscene or perhaps a sample from the opening moments would’ve been great. Happily, it doesn’t look like fans will have to wait long to see the story for themselves.
My preview of Cook Serve Forever has me excited to play the full entry. I always admire a company with a successful formula willing to shake things up to try something new. While this game lacks the time management aspects of previous games, it’s easy to see what Cook Serve Forever gains through that sacrifice. Whether fans will approve of the choice remains to be seen.
Cook Serve Forever is slated to release in April on Steam Early Access.