REVIEW: ‘Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?!,’ Brings a New Structure to Familiar Gameplay (Switch)

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Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?!
Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! is a restaurant simulation game developed and published by Vertigo Gaming. When the high rise tower where your previous restaurant is destroyed in a missile strike, it looks like all is lost. But wait, help arrives in form of a pair of mostly friendly robots named Whisk and Cleaver. When they pull you out of the rubble they instantly realize who you are, and get a great idea. They’ll load into their food truck to rocket off on a cross country cooking journey! How could you not want that?

I first discovered Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! earlier this year at PAX East. I was so taken with its frantic cooking gameplay that when I arrived back home one of the first things I did was download a copy of its processor Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!!. Having sunk a fair number of hours into that as I awaited this games final release on Nintendo Switch, I can say I’m extremely happy I did. While the last entry in the series was a blast, the newest entry adds a lot of structure to the larger flow of the game. Let’s get into the details.

For those unfamiliar, Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! tasks the player with cooking meals for hungry patrons. The game is broken into days, with each day taking the form of a varying number of stops. Orders are placed beforehand, and the experienced chef must manage the time as they approach their next stop wisely. You won’t have enough holding stations to prep everything, and special orders will also come in, demanding your attention. People are busy, and they won’t wait long for their food. If you want to earn that perfect gold star you must plan and react fast. How challenging this task largely depends on what menu you are serving. The menu set up is one of the most significant changes to Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?!.

In its predecessor, the player would buy foods, and then construct a menu out of whatever they wanted. Most foods had special modifiers that would influence when and how often you might want to serve them, along with how much extra work the meal would create. These modifiers have been done away, and the player no longer has as much free reign over their menu.

Most levels will have a selection of foods the player will choose from based on the desires of the customer. Themes like BBQ, or all fried foods, will inform what choices you can make. While at first, I resented the removal of my open-ended choice of menu, eventually, I appreciated it. It forced me out of my comfort zone and challenged me to make foods I hadn’t looked at before. And with over 200 foods from all corners of the world, there is a lot to experiment with. And even the most restrictive levels generally had over 40 different foods to assemble your menu from. So choices still abound. And there are levels that leave the menu completely up to you. So you can always hit one of those if you just want some freedom. The other big change to the way menu creation works is the new point system.

Every dish available in Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! has a point value ranging from zero to five. The higher the points, the more difficult, and profitable, the dish. The system is also used as a further means to challenge players. Many levels have a minimum point total your menu must meet. Forcing players to pick some of the more challenging offerings.

But what makes one food more challenging than the next you might be asking? The complexity, and/or number of button sequences used to make the dish. Every dish has a series of button presses required to make it correctly. With the simplest dishes require a sparse one or two pushes, time to cook, and then it’s out the door. Mor complex dishes may require a half dozen or more buttons presses, time to cook, and then once cooked further interactions to dress and prepare the dish. And the toughest food has options you have to check before making. After all, if the customer ordered extra cheese on their pizza, and you serve pineapple, they won’t be impressed.

Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?!
On the left, is what orders are waiting, on the top is food currently in holding stations, to the right are the various ingredients that might be needed for the current meal, while below is the needed ingredients for this particular order.

Now, all this frantic button tapping and menu checking might start to sound overwhelming and stressful. Well, if it does, you might still want to give Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! a try. Since the developers at Vertigo Gaming are aware of just how stressful the games play style can be, and they wanted to make the game as accessible as possible for players, so they created chill mode.

Remember how I said earlier customers can be impatient? Well, in chill mode that is gone. Customers will patiently await the delectable treats you cook up for them without a grumble. This alleviates a lot of stress and time constraints on the game. Though not all pressure is removed. Dishes will still burn if not attended to, so you do need to keep at it. The pressure is simply reduced a noticeable amount. I tried chill mode on a level I had barely earned a bronze medal on (fewer than eight mistakes) an I instantly cut my mistakes down to one. I still had to pay attention, but the pressure was greatly lessened. Although it is important to note, gold stars cannot be earned in chill mode. And there are a few levels that require gold stars to unlock. These aren’t significant in number, but worth mentioning.

The other thing chill mode turns off is attacks from other food trucks. I bet you just read that previous sentence again didn’t you? Yup! That’s right. In the future, mobile food business is pretty cutthroat. If a level is designated with an attack icon it means that somewhere during your trip your food truck will be attacked. This requires no involvement on the part of the player, it simply results in the loss of a piece of kitchen equipment, making your work a little more difficult. This was the only addition to Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! I didn’t really care. Since I knew it would happen ahead of time it wasn’t generally a big deal, but I just don’t think it adds anything worthwhile either.

Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! Also features an upgrade tree you can use to improve your food truck. As you complete levels, you earn experience that increases your chef rank. Whenever your rank goes up you earn a point that can be spent to upgrade the features of your food truck. These range from additional holding stations, to making the vehicle more resilient to attack. While I always love upgrading things in games the layout of the tree was a little sub-par for me. In order to get anywhere in the tree you generally have to first purchase multiple prep stations. These stations can cost several points and can increase the difficulty of the game if turned on. Since I was sufficiently challenged as it was I never turned these upgrades on. Turning the points I had to spend to get through them into dead weight. I still got to what I wanted without too much trouble, it just took some of the fun out of the experience for me.

Along with gameplay upgrades, Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! also gives players a wide range of cosmetic items to decorate their truck with. Everything from fictional food brands, to the various tools of the trade, can be hung off the walls or displayed on the shelf. I was particularly happy to see Black Lives Matters, along with LGBTQ, and Trans Rights flags/ stickers are included in the options.

The last area that got a bit of enhancement in Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! is the game’s personality. Instead of just using emails that the player could opt to read to get a taste of the games quirky setting, this aspect of the game has been made much more front and center through the presence of Whisk and Cleaver. From commenting on your work to giving brief dialogues about the new areas you were entering the robotic duo add some fun and charm to the games moment to moment play.

When all is said and done, Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! delivers a great addition to the series it continues. While it’s more structured approach may not be what some want, I felt that it is on the whole, a solid improvement. I’ll be listening to Whisk and Cleaver’s banter for many meals to come.

Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! is available October 14th on Steam and Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.

Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! 
  • 8.5/10
    Rating - 8.5/10
8.5/10

TL;DR

When all is said and done, Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! delivers a great addition to the series it continues. While it’s more structured approach may not be what some want, I felt that it is on the whole, a solid improvement. I’ll be listening to Whisk and Cleaver’s banter for many meals to come.