This Roguelite Restaurant Management Simulator Made Me Finally Care About Gitting Gud

I am not a patient gamer, which is why the pleasures of both Soulslikes and roguelikes elude me. I don’t have the patience to memorise an enemy’s attack patterns, or more broadly, to bash my head against the same thing over and over until I finally break through. I get the appeal, but I have so many other games to play and so many other things to do. Trying again and again to finally get through to the other side of a level or a boss makes me feel like I’m wasting my time, because I could be playing a game more productively.



That’s tied up in a lot of internalised ideas about my gaming time needing to be productive, but all the same, I’d rather put a hundred hours into an RPG like Yakuza 0 or Baldur’s Gate 3 than put that same hundred hours into a roguelike or roguelite. The only one that has captured my attention long enough for me to actually finish the game is Hades, which I played through to the end of the storyline. I really like Greek mythology, but mostly it was about flirting with Megaera and Thanatos.

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It’s for these reasons that I was surprised that I loved my time with Cuisineer. I wasn’t convinced that I would enjoy it, but as a Southeast Asian, I wanted to give developers in the region a fair shot when they’re often overlooked, and I’m so glad I did. In Cuisineer, you’re Pom, a young adventurer who returns to her hometown to manage her parents’ restaurant after they send you a cryptic message about maybe, possibly, dying? It turns out they just went on holiday and were baiting you into taking care of the restaurant while they’re gone, but you’re a dutiful daughter so you get to work. They’ve sold all their furniture to fund their vacation, but you’re going to make do with what you have.

Cuisineer Restaurant

Paell, your hometown, has a thriving populace already, many of whom know and remember you fondly. You’ll find stores selling boba tea for restoring health, equipment for fighting, and furniture for the restaurant. The first two of these things help to prepare you for what’s outside the town, which are procedurally-generated dungeons with themed biomes. You’ll fight giant chickens and fire-breathing peppers to collect ingredients for your restaurant, and you can collect resources like wood as well. Die, and lose most of your resources – I overextended myself and died on my first run, because, again, I’m impatient.

This is the most fun part for me: you get to bring all those ingredients back to your restaurant and start cooking. The more you collect, the more dishes you can cook, and the more dishes you can serve. The more you serve, the more money you make, and the more you can upgrade your restaurant. I was reminded of my countless hours in front of my computer as a kid playing Diner Dash, completely hyperfocused on serving customers with maximum efficiency. I’ve always loved restaurant management sims, so combining that genre with dungeon delving makes me shockingly into Cuisineer.

Cuisineer dungeon

More than that, though, I love the distinctly Asian flavour of the game. The developers are based in Singapore, where I was born, raised, and still live to this day. There’s a light Singlish tone to some of the dialogue, a kind of creole language that melds different dialects and languages spoken in Singapore with English. A lot of the recipes you can cook are drawn straight from Singaporean foods, with dishes like popiah and kaya jam on the list of things you can cook.

Maybe I’m biased, but I love seeing my extraordinarily diverse culture showcased here, especially in a game this compelling. While I’ve never cared for spending hours getting good at a roguelike, Cuisineer has mashed together two genres that feel incredible together. For once, I actually want to get good at this game, and I feel like with enough practice, I can. I am going to make this restaurant the best Paell has ever seen, damn it. And I’m going to do it while slinging popiah and kaya on toast.

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