Dungeon-crawling town management never looked so delicious: Hands-on with Cuisineer

There has been no shortage of farming-sim or town-sim RPGs to come out in recent years. Everything from Harvestella to My Time at Sandrock have offered numerous ways for players to build up their dream farm or town after a long day battling monsters. Cuisineer looks to add to those ranks with an interesting idea — what if chefs could summon giant frying pans as a weapon?

As I approached the booth to give the game a go, I was able to chat it up with CEO Shawn Toh at Battle-Brew Productions, the company behind Cuisineer’s development. Having worked on the game “for almost two and a half years”, the studio is excited to show the game off before its launch later this year.

The game plays somewhat like Diablo as you control your character through a dungeon, swiping at enemies with your primary weapon (a spatula) and collecting the resources they leave behind on defeat. The ingenuity in weaponry is what strikes me the most — your primary weapon is a spatula and your secondary weapon are dinner plates (thrown like shuriken or chakrams). 

In addition, your weapons come coupled with a special attack — your spatula summons a giant frying pan to fry up some AoE damage, while the dinner plates launch a fan of plates out in front of your character. “We have some more kitchen-based weaponry available to the player as they progress through the game,” Toh stated. “While we can’t really talk about all of the ideas we have, we’re sure players will enjoy them.” As an aside, modifiers on gear are labeled as “flavors” — Toasty, for example, causes fire damage. Other flavors, such as Umami and Bitter, are available to discover as you play.

Once you clear the tutorial dungeon, you’re deposited in a fairly large town and head straight for your kitchen — bringing the game closer to a Shop Titans or, for the more obscure, Recettear (Capitalism, ho!) Your kitchen looks barren, and your first task is to make it more presentable by adding furniture. You can only do so much with the meager amount of resources you gathered though, so after a quick tour of the town, it's off to the first dungeon to get what you need. The game has a day/night cycle, as indicated by your clock in the top-right corner of the screen — you have set times for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so some dungeon-crawling before dinner was what I settled on.

The first dungeon is no joke in terms of difficulty — armed with an upgraded spatula that deals additional fire damage, I thought I was ready to mow down armies of chickens. Instead, I was fighting for my life dodging a number of AoEs from a wide variety of creatures — boars, namely, giving me the most trouble. The areas surrounding the town are proc-gen, which means each new entry into combat zones will yield new experiences. Though I must say I was sorely disappointed traveling quite a ways down one path, only to discover a dead end and nothing else. Not everything is proc-gen, however, as some set pieces will be set in stone for return trips.

As we talked about our love of boba tea, which just so happens to be a resource in Cuisineer, one additional thing stood out to me — the absolutely incredible art design. While the combat maps can get a little muddy with all of the moving parts — on more than one occasion, I couldn’t see some of the smaller enemies while contending with larger and more flashy enemies — in the town, the art design is, for lack of a better word, comfy. All of the NPCs have unique designs (Alder (a giant wolf blacksmith) and Zhenzhu (a…dragon waitress?)  in particular are very cool), the buildings and fauna look wonderfully shaded and designed so that you can find where you’re going at a glance.

While I remarked on the similarities to Diablo and Recettear, Toh assured me that “we’ve got some unique ideas and do things a little differently,” and there are “plenty of surprises for those familiar with the genre.” After my short time with the demo, I can safely say that I’m excited to see what they’ve got cooking. Cuisineer has no set launch date beyond “later this year”, but you can wishlist it now on Steam.