Cook Serve Delicious 2 Review

Played on Windows.
Also available on PlayStation 4, Android, iOS, macOS.

I wrote a review of Cook, Serve, Delicious! about two months ago. I found the game to be very fun, but it had one massive flaw. I thought that the sequel that I had played for an hour was better than that original game was in every way… well, maybe I oversold it. I now have put in 9 hours into the sequel and, well, let’s see if it really is better.

To start with Cook, Serve, Delicious! and Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! are very similar games. You run restaurants and just cook items to order as people order off your menu. You go through the same motions for the day, the only changes are the dishes cooked. You might have to prep corn dogs and serve those adding mustard and ketchup as requested or cook a steak perfectly, but the idea is you’re a line cook in a restaurant and continually serving food to the guests who order it.

It’s a relatively simple game to learn, but very difficult to master. I feel that I was rather skilled at Cook, Serve, Delicious! I didn’t have any problems until I got the highest star rating of that game. While Cook, Serve, Delicious! was grindy, it was only a problem because of a minor lack of challenge and not much variety. Yet, it still was fun.

Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! changes all that. The entire game becomes about mastery instead of just serving food. A perfect day in the first game was the highest mark of perfection and rather simple to cheat your way into by choosing simple food and just lowering your buzz til not many people came to your restaurant. In the sequel… I don’t believe you will be able to cheat in a similar way, but I found that no matter what I did I still had a massive rush of patrons in my establishment and often not many easy to make food.

The gameplay is very similar though a simple but major change in the sequel is the holding stations for food. The player starts with four holding stations at the beginning of the game, with more available as the game continues. These stations do what the name says, they hold food. There are food types that need a holding station, like corndogs, you can’t serve that type of food unless it’s already in a holding station. Then there are foods that optionally can be in the holding station, like hot dogs, you can either cook those to order or you can cook a number and fill orders from that stock. Finally, there are side dishes, one of the better changes for the series, for each unique side dish in your holding station that’s ready to eat, you gain 15 seconds of wait time. So just having a Caesar salad makes people wait 15 seconds (or like 15 minutes of game time). Having the Caesar salad and a side of green beans means you get 30 seconds, and you can have a third item like a side of mixed vegetables and get people to wait 45 seconds more than normal. For a fast-paced game, that’s a huge bonus.

Food in the holding stations also expire after some time and they can also run out of food when it’s sold, so you’re constantly managing the holding stations in addition to serving food. It’s complex, but it really adds a new level of skill to the game, and I have to say, it’s an extremely good change for the series.

In addition, when you sell normal food made “perfectly” which means every step done correctly, you always make a drink and side item sale, if it’s available, and get bonus money, as well as a “Delicious order” which is just a new higher tier of “perfection”. It’s not hard to hit, and it’s worth targeting for money and the extra wait time the side items get you.

So Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! sounds better, and has more depth. In fact, it is both of those things. There are a lot of good changes, including most of what I disliked in the original game. Buzz is not as important which is a good thing because the game is overall more hectic no matter what. There’s not as much downtime, and when there is, you usually can work on the holding stations, so it’s a good thing.

The game allows more free-form experimentation, the food cost is no longer the core gameplay mechanic you need to follow, money is relatively plentiful. There are also massive improvements to the food variety. The original game had 30 recipes, the sequel has 120, and most of them don’t feel like duplicates. The downside of that, however, is important. There are no upgrades. Personally, I like the 120 options more than the 30 choices, but the lack of upgrades is a disappointment. Many items are very complex as you go up the food price, but at the same time, I liked learning a food and getting a harder version of it later in the original game.

Co-op though is a massive improvement. Co-op in the original game meant one player was the “Expediter” or the guy at the counter that serves the food, and tells the other player what to cook, while the other player has to cook it to perfection.

In Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! co-op is done by letting both chefs cook and serve food, splitting the screen in half. It actually works really well and is extremely intense. I don’t know if it increases the challenge of the game itself, but it can make the game harder, especially when you lose half your screen space to your partner, and you both might go for the same order.

But co-op is a huge improvement to the point that any co-op player should skip the original game. It’s just not worth it, whereas Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!!’s co-op is how co-op should have been implemented the first time. There are probably reasons why it wasn’t but this has the correct and superior co-op system.

There is also less grinding and more grinding depending on how you want to look at it. The game removes the major progression system of the first game which had different tasks for you to do to earn a new star. Now, Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! offers levels, with every five levels giving a half a star. Honestly, now that I played it, I kind of want the progression back and just made shorter.

The original progression was more direct grinding but there were side tasks that made you expand what you had to do, so you might cater parties or participate in a strict game show. It changed the game subtly. In Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!!, the progression takes the form of mindlessly leveling up. The progression system has unlockable alternate restaurants to be a Chef for Hire at. You can work in a restaurant like “Max Weiner” which allows you to make hot dogs, and hot dog related food. There’s a lot of these other restaurants you can work in and you keep earning more to level up. Inside each restaurant, there are a large number of slightly different menus to work on that also unlocks when you level up.


Max’s restaurant.

But the new problem with progression is that there are not many reasons to work in these restaurants, there’s no benefit to hitting every menu at a single restaurant. You don’t earn a new food (which you buy or earn by leveling up) and you don’t get a reward when you finish all the menus at a restaurant. The Chef for Hire system does give you a chance to cook with something you haven’t cooked with before, assuming you haven’t bought the recipes for your own restaurant already, it’s just not a strong reason to keep chasing new levels. It’s not awful but I’d like to have a reason to do all 8 menus at Max Weiners, and then a reason to do it again at Eats, or Burger barn or whatever the other places are named. Even a simple plaque would have been a nice touch or maybe change the icon on the level select to show that you’ve finished it.

I got to 1.5 stars (15 experience levels), and I didn’t see any other side jobs. In fact, parts of the original game like stats and special challenges were also missing. I don’t mind this as much as I like the ability to make any food you want to, but there’s no huge goals you’re working towards other than doing a huge amount of cooking and menus. There are levels for earning stars, but it occurs once you’ve served a certain experience worth of items. You earn a level every couple of “days” (services).


Cooking steaks is a bit simple, choose the cut.

The one thing that does remain that’s still a massive problem for me is you can’t remove “innocent” mistakes. Let’s say I make a hot dog, and put a tomato on it. I can’t remove it. If I’m making a pizza and I use the thin crust, I’ve boned the order, and can’t start over. You can never throw away the order and start fresh, I’m stuck with my mistake and imperfect order, that’s going to ruin my perfect streak. It’s a big annoyance just as it was in the original game, and while maybe this could create another tier (a perfect day with no wasted food), the fact is it’s still the same problem as the original game.

So overall it seems like most of my issues with the first game are better, though I have to admit, I got everything I wanted, including less grinding, but I lost the progression that felt really good in the first game. Now the progression is just more stuff to do.

The big thing in Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! is “perfection”. The game constantly pushes you to it, and that’s a good thing, but it’s also a pain. In the original game, missing a few orders on the side missions usually resulted in a full success. You still can get a success with bad orders in this game, but now Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! heavily pushes the idea of perfection when doing Chef for Hire with the idea of the “Gold medal”. If you don’t perfect a service, you’ll be stuck with only a bronze or a silver medal. So your failure hangs over your head.

I find that perfection in Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! is quite a bit more difficult for some reason I can’t put my finger on, likely the higher customer count. It’s a shame, but understandable. The game would be too easy for near perfection to count as much as perfection, the problem is with the “any move can be a mistake” ruining perfection, it means you’ll either restart days over and over or be unable to hit that very high bar.

Admittedly, there are a few other changes. There is no new equipment to buy if you want to buy a soup, or fried chicken, the game just lets you. There are upgrades (which get expensive) for side tasks, but it’s just to make those tasks less frequent. Besides the huge catalog of food which is enormous, there’s not much else to spend money on.

The email system feels a bit weaker. There are not as many interactables with the email system. I didn’t see any email I could respond to, but you get emails that are from people in the office building you work in. Most are ok, but the crunch jokes hit a little close to home. However, you keep getting free stuff in the email (don’t know exactly what triggers that but they come far too often). There’s just less overall reason to read the email outside of collecting those items.


Ouch.

However, those items are used to decorate your restaurant. Another big feature of the new game is the “Restaurant Designer”. You get parts of the restaurant through a variety of means and can make your own restaurant. This is a feature I’m sure some people will love. Personally, I made a restaurant and changed one thing about it and then called it a day. It’s a good feature but you constantly are getting new things for it at such a high rate that I never went to check out what I got because I was going to get more in just another minute.

That’s most of the game of Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!!, a number of features from the first game are gone but it’s done for a more streamlined game. While I think stats are missing, it’s not something that’s critical and the online gameplay isn’t as important as having so many options.

I really feel like Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! is the game I asked for, but I also feel like a victim of my own desires. I wanted less grinding and for the most part that’s here. I wanted more things to do, and there’s a lot more. Then 120 food items are excellent, and there’s a lot of uniqueness in the recipes.

But the lack of real progression, the fact that star levels are simply experience levels now, and the fact that there’s just too much of the same gameplay means Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! isn’t as overall compelling as the first game.

It’s odd because I think I like this game less than the original, but I think I also would recommend this one over the original still. To me, the real problem with the original was the grinding was so bad, and the rank up happened after 20 services. It might take a similar time here, but the rank up doesn’t mean as much. So much is unlocked so fast in this game that I never felt like I was chasing another unlockable or excited to see what new options were out there. I had the ability to make a Chinese menu, or sausages, or burgers from the beginning. So many of my choices were available from the beginning.

So I recommend Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! Especially if you want to play a cooking game, but ultimately I think I have to rate the game a little lower than the original because while this fixes the first game, there’s less reason to play it for as long a time.

Or as Gordon Ramsey would say “Damn”.

3.5/5

Final thoughts: A more intense and expanded game than the original, and better in almost every way. Worth picking up over the original. However lack of meaningful progression gets in its way, but still fun.

Stats: 8.3 hours 9/40 achievements, but I expect to play more as a game between games. An amuse bouche.

I bought Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! for myself on Steam to play co-op with my daughter.