Cuisineer is a charming rogue-lite adventure that mixes things up by also having a restaurant to run as well. This unique blend makes for an interesting game where juggling the action and sim elements becomes a pretty addictive combo. Take control of Pom, a young cat girl returning home to Paell after spending some time adventuring. After her return home, her parents’ restaurant is imposed upon her. Can Pom use her adventuring skills to get the restaurant back up and running to its full former glory?
Recipe for Success
Cuisineer itself carries a sweet and salty flavor. It has two tastes that seem like they may not always fit together but, in actuality, go down smoothly. The two opposite halves of the game complement each other while creating a very textured pacing. These two halves are the gameplay styles featured in Towns and Dungeons.
Town life is one of the significant parts of the game, and it ended up being my favorite part. I loved walking around town, planning upgrades, completing quests, and running the restaurant. Juggling all the sim elements and RPG upgrading sounds like its own full game. However, what makes the loop more interesting is how exploring dungeons connects wonderfully with these lighter mechanics.
Braving the Dangers of Dungeons…and Debt…
In order to get materials and ingredients, you must venture forth into different dungeons. Each area has unique materials and monsters! Defeat your foes and destroy objects to get everything you need. This mechanic meshes beautifully with the sim elements as you use what you gather to expand your restaurant and make money by selling food. Many of these items will allow you to complete Quests from the townsfolk, giving you even more recipes. Don’t worry; the combat is typical, but its remarkable solidness will make sure it feels good to play. Experiment with weapons and abilities in order to make your dungeon dives as efficient as possible. Combat gives you a nice change of pace after all the menus and restaurant running. The general combat feel and look reminded me a lot of Hades. Grab some backpack upgrades, too! It makes each dungeon run more worthwhile—a little tip from me.
One thing I respect Cuisineer a lot for is making a roguelike that is more beginner-friendly. There’s not much RNG to speak of, and the game’s difficulty is more relaxed. It’s a nice feeling! Chill in the town some. Decorate your restaurant. Then, do some dungeon runs that you can end at any point. You really get to pace yourself! The vibe here is similar to something like Animal Crossing.
Part of the way into the first month of the game, Pom will be visited by a debt collector. He demands that Pom pays the debt her parents have racked up, or he will have to take the restaurant as collateral. Paying this debt off is the main progression gate in the game’s story. You unlock more areas and quests as time passes and debts get paid.
Cuisineer’s greatest strength is its high contrast environments that pop, and it’s really cute portrait art. You get to see a full cast of adorable animal people and then explore beautiful and evocative dungeons.
That…Anime? Food Looks So Good
Cuisineer has tons of recipes featuring cuisine from many different cultures. You earn recipes by completing Quests. Each recipe involves the quest-giver in different ways. Maybe they learned some exotic recipe; perhaps this was a childhood favorite and much more. Each recipe not only looks good but also carries a little bit of weight.
Cute n’ Cuddly Compatriots
Not only is the 3D art vibrant, but the cuteness overflows into the character designs. Each character has this sort of soft roundness with great colors! Be sure to talk to everyone! They all provide different services and quests. The NPCs also cycle in and out of service depending on the date and time!
This is one of the best portraits I may have seen. Look at ‘im! He also upgrades your restaurant, so that makes him even better. He’s easily the most likable character.
Made to Taste
Cuisineer definitely meets the mark. It’s a very mechanically satisfying game with an outstanding style. It’s a true treat to play. However, this may not be the case for everyone. For example, I do think the art is strong and that the game is charming. But it doesn’t exactly meet my specific taste in art. The dungeons, while integral to the formula I enjoy and the game’s pacing, aren’t exactly my favorite. Hardcore roguelike fans will probably get their kicks from something more challenging and more profound.
I have praised the game’s polish; however, no game is free of bugs or production mishaps. The game’s art is excellent, but it reuses NPCs a lot. This wouldn’t usually be an issue. However, many named characters are recolors of NPCs. It’s a little disappointing. Some of the piano tracks have noticeable audio noise. This crackle may possibly be some side effect of a live piano recording, as I have heard piano keys stick on good headphones. So, that issue may not even be audible on some setups. Lastly, I encountered a minor visual bug in the lava area. My smackeral weapon had a flame burst at the end of its combo, and it made a black shadow appear the length of the screen randomly. Not an issue, just a little amusing.
Closing up Shop for the Day
Cuisineer is an adorable game. If aesthetics, side content, and difficulty were deterrents to you in other roguelikes, then Cuisineer is a perfect game for you! Half of the game’s draw is running a restaurant while interacting with cute townsfolk. The roguelike elements are designed to be more forgiving and less brutal than many of its contemporaries while keeping an incredibly solid and polished combat experience. Many of these elements of Cuisineer don’t wholly appeal to me beyond a different flavor of this genre. However, I believe this game can attract a new audience to the roguelike genre. Even roguelike fans should enjoy the more laid-back tone and additional sim elements. In short, Cuisineer is very ‘to taste’.
Disclaimer: XSEED Games provided Final Weapon with a Steam copy of Cuisineer for review purposes.