Cook, Serve, Delicious! is one of the most stressful but completely accurate job simulator games to come out in years. It’s a combination of short-order cooking and restaurant management that challenges the human ability to memorize and process commands while on pure autopilot. If you’ve actually ever worked in fast food, you know the feeling well.
Recently, developer Vertigo Gaming announced Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3, which will be in Early Access on Steam until a targeted January 2020 full release. Curious about the direction this next installment in the series would take and whether or not it would elaborate on some of the premises set up in the preceding game, I reached out to director David Galindo. Fans of formula refinement take note: that’s exactly with this new game plans to do, making some organizational and structural considerations along the way.
“Cook Serve Delicious! 3 is a much more story-focused game than the last two, though those who read the emails and food descriptions in the previous games won’t be too surprised with the game’s lore and setting,” Galindo tells me. The sequel will take place in the near future, where the player is on a cross country ride to the nation’s new capital of Nashville, Tenn., where they will compete in an Iron Cook Food Truck Championship.
“With this game, I’m taking the best components of the first and second game as well as introducing all-new play mechanics that considerably speed up the gameplay. You’ll be able to upgrade your food truck with gameplay changing modules as well as purchase foods for the entirely revamped menu system. Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2 didn’t have the best menu interface, which became very clear in some modes like the restaurant designer, so I’ve hired on a programmer to focus exclusively on redoing all the menus.”
As to other changes on the horizon, Galindo speaks of aspects that bogged the sequel down. “So with the last game there was not a lot of cohesiveness in the design of the menus—if you wanted to, say, practice making hamburgers before placing it on your menu, you had to back all the way out and go into a separate menu. Plus a lot of the menus weren’t consistent, in that some provided more details about foods than others. We’re merging a ton of menus in Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3 to make a much more streamlined experience.”
Indeed, one of the more frustrating parts of Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2 was how difficult it was to actually practice individual dishes, among other faux pas. There aren’t a lot of ways to isolate any problem areas and commit the keyboard commands to memory before being thrown into the chaos of a full shift. As I point out to Galindo, the game also didn’t necessarily include a lot of warm-up or enough of a tutorial aspect to learn the dishes of each restaurant, with a learning curve that swings wildly between its Zen and Standard modes. He says, “I agree that there’s not a real middle ground, but with this game, there’s going to be a completely new way to play through the game… It’s both something new to the series while still being very familiar for Cook, Serve, Delicious vets.” He goes on to add that the build mode from Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2 will not be present in the game, promising to share more with me on both topics during our upcoming meeting at PAX West. “While the nature of a food truck doesn’t lend itself as well to customization like a restaurant, we do have some ideas in mind for some customization options.”
It’ll be interesting to see how the improved features, including the visual style, affect the game’s difficulty and learning curve. The means to really isolate and practice singular dishes would make the game more approachable for beginners and easier to master for seasoned players. Either way, we’ll know more once I visit the Indie Megabooth and play the Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3 demo this weekend at PAX West 2019.
Holly Green is the assistant editor of Paste Games and a reporter and semiprofessional photographer. She is also the author of Fry Scores: An Unofficial Guide To Video Game Grub. You can find her work at Gamasutra, Polygon, Unwinnable, and other videogame news publications.