- Developer: Big Cheese Studio, Wastelands Interactive
- Publisher: Forever Entertainment
- Release date: 14/5/2020
- Price: £17.99 / $19.99
- Review code provided by Forever Entertainment
Introducing: Cooking Simulator Switch Review
I am not very good at cooking. It’s not for lack of trying, though. If you put a recipe in front of me, I could likely manage pretty well, but I rarely have the time to try cooking anything more than the basics, so I lack the experience needed. That being said, I am quite fond of digital cooking. I spent a lot of time playing Cooking Mama as stress relief in high school, and after the most recent game was pulled from the eShop, I was itching for a fix. Thankfully, Cooking Simulator dropped in my lap at just the right time.
Put a Pot on the Stove
Cooking Simulator, however, is not something as simple as a game like Cooking Mama. Perhaps a more accurate title for it would have been Restaurant Kitchen Simulator. You won’t be just cooking, but also selecting the menu, buying supplies, and doing your best to get a good rating from critics. You might not have any control over the main dining area, but there is certainly a budget for you to stick to in your kitchen and a control of what your kitchen will be putting out.
The main way that you progress is by performing well enough to gain notoriety, in turn attracting a critic to your restaurant who you must impress in order to improve the reputation of your restaurant. At the same time, your also gaining a plethora of different points and cash, which you use to get more supplies in your kitchen and different recipes to cook. There’s also a variety of different bonuses and benefits that make things easier to do or make sure your cash flow is a little more secure. The progression of gaining these is pretty smooth, so even if I’m not able to unlock something after each in-game day, I feel like I am at least making progress towards it.
I’m sad to say that despite there being a decent progression curve to the game, there are enough gameplay problems that I just don’t feel very motivated to make my kitchen the best that it could be. My biggest issue is that the controls just did not translate well from PC to the Switch. Something that would likely be very easy with the micro-controls that a mouse affords becomes somewhat of a nightmare here. That knife is very narrow and lining it up could sometimes be a frustration because the controls are so sensitive and there does not appear to be any option to adjust that sensitivity.
This might also be the first game that I have played that has too much rumble. If you’re holding something and bump into a counter, there’s not a light rumble to let you know that happened, but instead a long and continuous rumble until you stop touching it. There’s also the same kind of rumble when a timer goes off. I wouldn’t mind that much if the rumble was not the full power and complete rumble that the Joy-Con can give off! Not only would my hands be tingling after every timer, but part of me wondered for the first time if it was possible to burn out the rumble in a controller. There is the option to turn the rumble off completely, but not to just bring it down a tad, and if you’re going to play with your sound off, then the rumble is a big aid in telling when your timers are going off. There is a visual cue, but it can be easily lost, especially when playing in handheld.
Sensitive control issues are not the only problem with the controls either. There are a lot of places where the controls are not exactly the most well explained. I would be told to move a stick in order to tip a bottle for pouring it, but when it made the bottle move instead, i was quite flustered and abandoned that control. Turns out that I had to just keep moving the stick more while using the other stick to keep it in place. Not only was this a bad explanation of the control and bad control in general, but it also caused confusion that made me lose several minutes of precious time while trying to figure it out.
Perhaps the worst part of the game is that it just looks somewhat bad. A lot of the environment is fairly polygonal and many of the edges are really jagged, which makes them do that annoying thing where they seem to shake when you move. It’s not like it makes my eyes burn or anything, but that doesn’t mean that it is pleasant to look at. The actual items of food are what look the best out of everything, which just ends up making them look out of place. Not to mention that the textures begin looking blurry when you get too close to them. Even my sister who doesn’t play very many games asked me why I was playing a PlayStation 2 game when she walked in on me playing.
Unless you turn on the radio there’s also no music in your kitchen, which is a nice little touch of realism, but it’s my understanding that in the PC version you were able to put your own music into the files in order to make your own music station. That’s not really an option on the Switch, so you’re stuck with a handful of generic channels to choose from. I found myself wanting some original music instead because of the lack.
Too Much Salt
Despite the fact I have so many problems with this game, I never ran into any technical issues that I would consider to be a problem. There were some times where I felt the loading was going on a little long, but it was never to an egregious point. This is one where it is much easier to see and play on a TV, which I found to be disappointing as I think this is the sort of experience that would make for a pretty good on-the-go game with how divided the in-game days are.
The biggest technical downfall is the seeming lack of an autosave. I exited the game at one point without saving because I had to quickly do something else and when I returned, I had to replay the beginning all over again because I had lost my progress. Thankfully, this happened after only a little while of playing and not after a several hour session, but it made me much more wary of even putting my Switch into sleep mode after that.
Overall, I find it hard to recommend Cooking Simulator. While it does fill a niche that the Switch is lacking, I plain old didn’t enjoy it very much. Despite the frustrations feeling small at first, the more I played, the more annoyed with the game I became, to the point where it felt like a chore to dive back in after each session. This is one that I would play at your own risk, or consider looking at on PC, where some of these problems may be mitigated by the different controls and lack of rumble.
- Good progression
- A variety of recipes and tools
- Game is pretty ugly
- Controls and game play are frustrating
- Not very fun to play
Gameplay frustrations built more and more leaving me irritated, despite a fun premise and decent progression system.