Cooking food can be a relaxing or even therapeutic activity. But not in Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! That’s because you are cooking in the back of a moving food truck driven by two cyborgs in a dystopian future. In that case, things are a bit more... chaotic.
CSD3 is the third entry in the Cook, Serve, Delicious series and it released earlier this week on Steam Early Access. These games are all about cooking lots of quality food, quickly and accurately. I played a lot of the first game and some of the second game. This new, third entry is the biggest and wildest yet. And maybe the most stressful?
The chef you played as in the original games is back, but sadly his wonderful restaurant that you built up in CSD2 has been destroyed. Two cyborgs, Whisk and Cleaver, find you buried in the rubble of your old restaurant and decide to help you start all over. This time, however, you will be serving and cooking from the back of a food truck.
There’s a lot more narrative in CSD3 than previous games, which is nice! The story never gets in the way or takes up too much time, but it does help build out the world and lore. CSD3 is set in the year 2043 and the world is dealing with global warming, wars, and other bad stuff. So people, more than ever, need good food.
Each day in CSD3 starts with you crafting a menu of different foods and snacks to serve and then you head out to three stops, where hungry people await. On the way to each stop, you can prep food to help make your life easier. You will want to do this. Cooking in CSD3 works like it did in the last two games. You use various keyboard keys to slap together food. For example, simple food like chicken nuggets has you hit the “N” key a few times to place raw chicken nuggets into your deep-frying baskets. Then you hit the “D” key to dunk the food into the burner and finally, you hit enter to close that window and let the nugs cook. Later foods get more complicated, asking you to hit many, many more keys quickly to create delicious meals.
Yes, all the food in the CSD3 looks this good. And yes, you will get hungry playing it.
At first, this will feel overwhelming and frustrating. Even after playing the first two games, returning to CSD3 was tricky. But soon you start to memorise certain things and keys. Though you really do need to be good at working a keyboard. If you have to look down while typing, this game is going to grab you by the chef’s jacket and toss you out the back of the food truck in minutes.
Luckily, you can turn on a chill mode that lowers how many rewards you get from missions, but also makes things move a little slower and turns CSD3 into a less hectic cooking game.
A nice helpful addition in CSD3 is that you can hit the control key on your keyboard whenever you have a lot of stuff ready to be served. Doing this will have your robot friend serve all possible food at that moment in one go. Nailing this key when you have everything set up is amazing and feels great. Watching 10 orders of churros and 6 orders of fried fish leave all at once never gets old.
You can also do this while making other orders. It helps make the cooking gameplay feel more like you are in a cramped food truck, pointing towards someone behind you to grab that basket of fries and get it out to the customer, the whole time never looking up from your burger you're making.
It seems that your food truck can get attacked while playing, but I’m about three hours into the game and that has yet to happen. So maybe I’m lucky or maybe I haven’t reached that point yet.
A few hours into CSD3 and I’m digging it. Things can get a bit stressful and I’m always happy when I finish my third stop and can take a deep breath and relax, but I’m ready to jump back in right away. Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! doesn’t completely shake up the formula of the last two games, and that’s good. Those two games were great. But it complicates things in smart and interesting ways.
Now, I gotta go. I have 70 chicken strips to cook and a crowd of hungry people.