Cook, Serve, Delicious! is a casual simulator game developed and published by Vertigo Gaming. I have a bit of a confession about this one: I picked it up in a bundle and decided to take a look at it as a sort of "rainy day" game and then proceeded to play about eight hours of it. It's a strangely compelling and mildly addictive little title, to say the least.
Cook, Serve, Delicious! isn't just some easy casual game
I think the first thing anyone things when we talk about casual or mobile game is a game that is relatively easy. I can't say that Cook, Serve, Delicious! is the most difficult game I've ever played, but it's not easy either. The interesting thing about the difficulty is you can very much tweak it in the game, by selecting different menu items for your restaurant, and the more difficult ones will earn you more money per item, but they are also longer and more difficult to prepare. So you can essentially tweak that difficulty to yourself. The difficulty is however still placed on a curve: as you gain increasing star ratings, you will have to deal with more customers at once, which does increase the difficulty over time.
Each of the individual foods are basically assembled by selecting different options through key combinations. Simpler foods have two to three keystrokes, while more difficult foods will have longer ones, some of them quite complex and involving repetitions or selecting proper options (such as the proper size and flavour of a drink, for example.) You then also have some foods which have to cook in the oven, which then essentially puts them to the side cooking but you have to return to them when they have cooked properly to ensure they don't overcook.
The pace of the game helps keep it compelling
This does a lot to keep the game from becoming monotonous - you're never really given much time to linger on what you're doing and as such your attention is kept on the task at hand, which helps keep the game going. Additionally, being able to choose from a variety of foods, with a "Menu Rot" mechanic making it less desirable to keep the same menu consistently, keeps things varied, as do the various challenges the game will offer you along the way, such as health inspections. You have to do chore activities which keep you from just plowing through foods (and certain foods that are otherwise quite desirable can increase the frequency of these chores) - and customers will only wait so long to be served before leaving. Your attention is constantly demanding.
A lot of thought has been obviously placed into the progression and while I have essentially talked on all of the core mechanics on offer, there's plenty else as well, such as equipment upgrades that help make things easier, like having less of the chores come up in between foods, or items which make the customers stay longer in your restaurant before they leave. There's also bets you can take on to serve a certain amount of foods without messing up, to complete a day with a certain difficult menu, and more. There's also extra activities like catering that vary up the gameplay.
The controls are very responsive
And that's what makes or breaks a game like this right proper is responsive controls. When you're being called upon to mash the controller or your keyboard mercilessly then it certainly counts to have controls that are quite tight and responsive, and Cook, Serve, Delicious! delivers that in spades. Whether controlling with a keyboard or controller you'll have no problem, though you'll probably want a keyboard with at least 3-key rollover for the more complex combos, because you'll be pressing quite a few keys in quick succession.
Repetition is still the order of the day in this game
Most casual type games fall into a trap of being quite repetitive and while obvious thought has been put into offering a variety of foods and events to mix things up, its core game mechanic is still quite repetitive, just mashing certain combinations of keys. This does actually get better as you progress in the game because the number of menu items you can have going at once is increased, however before you get to that point you're probably going to notice that repetition quite pointedly.