Dive into dungeons for the perfect dish
Cuisineer is an interesting game. On its surface, it’s a straightforward mash-up of two excellent things: a shop management sim and a dungeon-crawling action RPG. These two concepts are great on their own, and they go great together in Cuisineer too.
At PAX East 2023, I had a chance to go hands-on with BattleBrew Productions’ Cuisineer to see how far the project has advanced. This actually wasn’t my first time demoing the game; I stopped by the team’s booth at East in 2022 to get a sampler of their restaurant manager/dungeon crawler mash-up. This year, they were under the XSEED banner and looked even more polished.
Just a small town girl
The general concept is simple: you’re Pom, a tiny hero who inherits her family’s eatery that’s fallen into debt. Using a variety of improvised weapons, you’ll need to head into dangerous areas to locally source your cuisine ingredients, bringing them back to cook up and serve for paying customers.
In town, you can visit with locals who offer ways to upgrade your shop or boons to bring into dungeons. A new table may help seat more guests during the lunch rush, but boba tea can make a dungeon easier. I only got a small sense of how this would all interlink, but I like the town and its quiet, cheerful vibes. I did feel a bit lost at times trying to track down where to go next for quests, but I’m hopeful that’s a demo issue and not a full game wrinkle.
After picking up some materials, I had a little bit of time to set up my restaurant. There were some basics to start with, like a pot for cooking and some seating for guests. I talked with CEO Shawn Toh at the show, who said there will be more options in the full game, including some cosmetic choices for the eatery. For now, I was just glad my customers had a place to sit.
Of course, once that was all taken care of, I needed to head into the dungeon to get some ingredients. From here, it took on a distinctly action-RPG set-up. I had a dash and two different attacks, depending on which weapons I had equipped. My spatula and skillet were go-to close-range weapons, but I could also toss plates for some ranged attacks if I didn’t want to get close.
The levels were fairly straightforward at first. They offered a smattering of spike traps and foes that were easy to overcome by themselves, but could become a problem if they stacked up. Gradually, they introduced some dangerous moves, like charging or breathing fire. Of course, slaying those dangerous enemies is how you get some good ingredients for cooking. It’s all a trade-off.
I wish I made it to the boss, but I did get enough monster pieces to start up my first shift. So I went back to the restaurant and opened up shop for the day. Here, Cuisineer became a simple routine of taking an order, setting it to cook, serving, and getting cash from the happy customers. In the demo, it was easy enough to handle with the one-at-a-time set-up I had. From the screenshots online, it looks like things become much more hectic.
The final course
It’s easy enough to describe Cuisineer as a mash-up of games like Hades and Recettear. Even just imagining that, you’d get fairly close to what BattleBrew has concocted here. The dashing and slashing feels familiar, but solid and engaging. And I really like the town-and-restaurant integration, giving Cuisineer an extra layer to plan around and build up alongside the action.
Cuisineer also has some great food designs down, and the sheer variety they’re touting at over 100 different recipes makes me eager/hungry to see what’s in store. Cuisineer currently has a target of summer 2023.