Come on, be honest: we’d all love to be able to cook as efficiently as the world’s top chefs, right? I’ve watched on in envy as these worldwide cooking superstars put together extravagant meals with ease, all whilst running their own extraordinary restaurants that offer the finest dining on the market. It’d be a dream to run a restaurant, but hey, I guess my best bet would be to settle on working in a McDonalds and putting together some Big Macs (damn, I’m missing Big Macs during this lockdown).
Well, Cooking Simulator sees players living out their cooking dreams by letting them embrace their inner Gordon Ramsay. You get to run your own kitchen, purchase ingredients, maintain the kitchen’s equipment, and whip up some lovely meals for your clientele. The ultimate goal is to improve your reputation and become one of the most renowned chefs out there… sounds easy enough, right?
Naturally, cooking makes up the bulk of your experience, with plenty of recipes on offer in Cooking Simulator to really test your culinary skills. Players are expected to gather the ingredients, prepare them, and follow the recipe in order to create the meal though, and believe me, it isn’t always as straightforward as you’d think. You’ve got to cut ingredients up, season them, grill them for a set amount of time, make sure you don’t burn anything, make sure you plate meals up in an elegant and timely manner… the list goes on. There’s so much to consider when putting your meals together and you’ll get a rating based on your performance after it’s finally served up, with any mistakes you make during the process setting you back a few stars.
You have a set amount of cash in the game and continually earn more as you progress, so your success as a chef will improve your overall reputation, give you access to more ingredients, recipes, and improved cooking equipment. You’re also able to tinker with recipes yourself – if you think you can make improvements, you can change them up and see what your customers think. Admittedly, a lot of these can end badly, but it’s pretty satisfying when you do hit the nail on the head and whip up some super tasty treat.
It all comes together to make for a pretty rewarding experience, but it’s worth noting that Cooking Simulator certainly doesn’t make things easy for the player. There are time limits in place when cooking, so if you grill some meat or fish for slightly too long, you can expect your rating to take a hit because of it. Cut your lemons awkwardly? You’ll be punished. Used a bit too much pepper when seasoning a steak? Your customer won’t be happy. Whilst there naturally has to be a sense of professionalism to your cooking, it could all be a little bit TOO unforgiving here – especially when you take into account the game’s awkward controls.
Between the demand for precision with the in-game cursor and the lack of sensitivity options, the controls in Cooking Simulator can be tough to get on with. A lot of items will be bundled together in one place for example, but actually pointing your cursor at them to select one in particular can be a bit of a nightmare. The physics are overly sensitive too, which doesn’t only lead to some glitchy moments in-game but can also result in players seeing placed items roll away or just completely drop to the floor for no apparent reason. And seriously, don’t get me started on the cutting controls…
There’s just a real lack of precision to the controls in-game and it makes Cooking Simulator feel like a bit of a chore to play at times. Heck, even the menus are difficult to navigate, making basic tasks such as looking at recipes or ordering ingredients feel laboursome. It’s just clear that this was a game that was designed for keyboard and mouse, and it really tells in how clunky the gameplay can be when using a controller.
The visuals are pretty ugly throughout too, which is a real shame given how impressive the game looks on PC. Whilst the ingredients and the meals are passable, your surroundings all feel blurry in design and are full of sketchy textures. The game performs ok so you shouldn’t expect any frame rate issues of any kind, but you can expect a little bit of eye strain as you try to make out items in your surroundings.
It’s a shame that Cooking Simulator is so flawed on the Nintendo Switch, because I actually enjoyed its gameplay loop. Sure, it can be unforgiving and there’s little room for error, but there’s this real sense of satisfaction to be found from frantically running your own kitchen and putting together a delicious assortment of meals. The chaos of it all can add to the fun too, and believe me, I’ve caused plenty of fires, ruined a ton of meals, and smashed a plethora of dishes in my kitchen – you’d think it’d make you mad, but it just made me laugh… well… when it wasn’t the controls that caused the accident in the first place, that is.
Cooking Simulator is a bit of a mess on the Nintendo Switch, with the sketchy visuals and awkward controls making the simplest of tasks feel unnecessarily complicated. It’s something that’s made all the more frustrating given how unforgiving the difficulty of the experience can actually be, with cooking demanding precision and quick reactions if you’re going to be successful.
It’s a shame too because I actually liked the gameplay. Sure, it could be a bit tricky in places and there are a few glitches that kick in here and there, but the process of cooking and running the kitchen was actually pretty rewarding. It’s disappointing then that everything else in the game felt so short of the mark, with Cooking Simulator feeling more like a Hell’s Kitchen calamity that a Masterchef delight.
Developer: Big Cheese Studio
Publisher: Forever Entertainment
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PC