Review: Cooking Fever

At a Glance

ESRB Rating: E - Everyone
My Rating: Ages 10 and up
Genre: Time Management
License: Commercial
Release Year: 2015
Review Published On: November 27th, 2020
Played on: Thaddeus

Available from:

Windows Store

Save System:

Your progress is saved when you complete a level or return to the map after interacting with a restaurant. There is no way to save your progress within a level.

To pause the game, press ESC.

Summary of
Major Issues:

The main issue with this game isn't its content, but rather the constant need to use gems for various things. While they can be earned very slowly via gameplay, gems are normally purchased using real money.

Screenshots

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Burger time!

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Snacks at the stadium

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Serving sushi



Game Overview

As you can probably guess, Cooking Fever is a game that's all about cooking delicious food. Taking on the role of a chef, your only goal is to satisfy your customers by cooking and serving their orders in a prompt, timely manner. Sounds easy right?

If only! You'll nearly always have more customers coming in than workstations available, so somebody will be waiting while you prepare orders. Juggling dishes and ingredients is core of the gameplay, and it's often more about planning ahead than improvisation. Each restaurant features forty levels of cooking fun, with new dishes opening up as you progress. You can also replay a level at any time, so feel free to go back and try for a better rating, more money, or just for fun.

Between rounds, you can purchase "upgrades" to your kitchen or restaurant that will help you earn more money or make the game easier. Purchasing quality furnishings like fancy tables, TV systems, pinball machines, or decorations will help the customers feel more comfortable hanging around, and this in turn will encourage them to leave better tips or wait a little longer for their food. Kitchen upgrades generally come in two flavors: ingredients and appliances. Upgrading the quality of your ingredients increases their sale price, while upgrading your cookware makes things cook faster or in larger batches.

Eventually, you'll be ready to purchase new restaurants and grow your cooking empire. Each restaurant has its own menu and difficulty curve, so be ready for a new challenge every time you unlock a new restaurant. If you end up disliking how a restaurant plays, it's not a total loss -- every restaurant you own generates a small amount of income every day, regardless of whether or not you've played any of its levels recently.

But, as much fun as this game can be, there's a problem that lingers like the smell of old cheese. Cooking Fever's premium currency is known as Gems. Like many games with a premium currency, these are used to purchase more expensive items and new restaurants. The problem though is that many, if not most, upgrades cost a small amount of Gems. While Gems can be earned through normal gameplay, the amount you need to do much of anything greatly exceeds the amount you can reasonably earn, effectively locking most of the game away behind a paywall.

This is a game I'd like to recommend, but the requirement for Gems will just ruin the game for many people. If you do decide to try this game, spend your Gems with care -- you should probably focus on buying restaurants first, then kitchen appliances, then furnishings. Wait to upgrade the ingredients until later on, as they don't really effect the gameplay.

Points of Interest

Many restaurants to try
At the start of the game, the only restaurant available to you is the Fast Food Court, but beyond that, there are more than thirty additional restaurants for you to purchase and conquer. As stated above, each restaurant has forty levels, its own gameplay mechanics, its own set of upgrades, and it'll generate income just because you own it.

An important thing to note about the level design is that they are not random. Each level has a fixed roster of customers and orders, making it possible for you to memorize who will order what and when. Thus, if you get stuck on a level, paying attention to the customers can help a lot.
Tasks and Achievements
While this game isn't on Steam or a similar service, there is a list of achievements for you to earn and every restaurant has a list of unique tasks for you to try and complete. Completing a task or achievement will earn you some bonus coins and possibly Gems, so it's worth replaying levels just to attempt these extra challenges.
Events
Every so often an event will start. These revolve around specific restaurants, and are either a challenge or a tournament. Both cost coins and Gems to participate, and award coins and Gems depending on how far along you can get. During a challenge, you'll have a little over three days to complete a set of special levels. Tournaments, on the other hand, involve playing as many levels as possible without losing and only the highest ranking players on the leaderboard will win anything. Also, while both are good ideas, it's worth pointing out that you'll likely spend more Gems trying to complete the challenge than you'll earn as a reward, which is another problem with the Gem system.
Upgrades aren't available instantly
While kitchen upgrades apply the moment you purchase them, there is a delay before interior upgrades start effecting your gameplay. Presumably this is to simulate the time required to install new furniture, but in practice it just means you'll need to wait for some time (possibly over an hour) to benefit from anything you've purchased. Of course, you can spend a few Gems to skip this delay, but why waste Gems on something that petty?

Concerns and Issues

Gems are needed too often
Microtransactions (aka in-game purchases) are a good way for developers to continue making income from a project while they work on it, and if done right, can allow players to get a little more out of a game they like. This game is an example of doing it wrong, as too many things can only be purchased with Gems. The amount of Gems you get for a dollar really drives this problem home. You only get 10 Gems for $1, but since even small upgrades cost more than 5 Gems, you're only going to be able to purchase one upgrade per dollar spent on the game.