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Cooking Simulator – Sushi Review

Cooking Simulator is one of the few sims out there which takes the experience of cooking in the real world and manages to translate it really very well into the digital world. It has carved a niche for itself in the world of simulation games, offering a uniquely chaotic and physics-based approach to virtual cooking. Cooking Simulator – Sushi promises to expand this experience by letting players step behind the counter of a bustling sushi restaurant. Does it deliver a satisfying meal, or leave you with a bad taste in your mouth? Read on to find out!

From Apprentice to Sushi Master

Cooking Simulator – Sushi takes a different approach to the career mode of the base game. Here, you run your own sushi bar, unlocking new ingredients and recipes as you level up.  As with most simulator games, there is no story.  Instead, there are sets of objectives in place to get you to improve your abilities and skills all-round to make for a better experience.  The freedom to experiment and create your own sushi masterpieces is a definite plus.

You can take orders, prepare rice, slice fish, and assemble sushi using a variety of tools.  This core gameplay loop can be satisfying, especially for those who enjoy mastering the mechanics and experimenting with different ingredients.  However, the repetitive nature of customer orders can lead to tedium after a while.  For example, the vast majority of orders that I received in the early game were all for the exact same thing (avocado maki with an optional extra)!

The menu customisation is a welcome addition. You can choose which dishes to offer, allowing you to focus on specific types of sushi or cater to a wider audience.  This adds a layer of strategy and replayability to the campaign. Additionally, the sandbox mode allows you to experiment without the pressure of customer demands.

Mastering the Craft

Cooking Simulator – Sushi introduces new mechanics that add variety to the gameplay.  You will need to master the art of using the sushi rolling mat to create visually appealing and structurally sound sushi.  A special rice cooker with variable settings for texture allows for some customisation, while the tempura fryer adds a new mini-game element.  However, the experience is hampered by a few issues.

The kitchen layout feels cramped, especially with the sheer number of ingredients and tools introduced.  Managing prep work and keeping up with customer orders can be overwhelming, especially for newcomers.  Additionally, some mechanics, like judging the doneness of rice based on subtle visual cues, lack clarity.

Everyday processes, such as chopping ingredients and operating the various appliances around the kitchen feel as good as they do in the original Cooking Simulator game.  However, clipping is a major issue.  Picking up items often resulted in them clipping through the environment and flying away at immense speed because I inadvertently brushed very gently past an aspect of the environment.  I’m sure, however, that this can be rectified in a future patch.

The variety of ingredients and dedicated tools like the fish knife are a welcome addition.  Slicing fish and prepping vegetables feels satisfying, offering a sense of accomplishment when achieving clean cuts.  However, some interactions can be unnecessarily finicky.

There are also minigames when handling particular tasks.  One of these tasks, although basic, took me a few attempts to get right because the interactions weren’t registering properly.  There was also no guidance around what might be wrong with an ingredient when something doesn’t work.  For example, I noticed that on several occasions my rice was labelled as “failed rice”, yet there was no assistance as to why it was considered as such nor what I could do to fix it.

Going Solo

There is no multiplayer option in Cooking Simulator – Sushi.  This feels like an opportunity missed as the teamwork aspects of running a busy restaurant could have made for a fun and engaging multiplayer experience.

Satisfying, Yet Repetitive

The core gameplay loop can be satisfying, especially for players who enjoy mastering the mechanics and experimenting with different ingredients and techniques.  However, the lack of a narrative and the repetitive nature of customer orders can lead to the experience feeling tedious after a while.

The menu customisation and the ability to unlock new ingredients and fishmongers do offer some incentive to keep playing.  Additionally, the sandbox mode allows players to experiment without the pressure of customer demands.  Therefore, if you simply want to learn about sushi and (sort of) try your hand at it, then Cooking Simulator – Sushi is a decent option.

A Feast for the Eyes, A Test for the Ears

The environment, ingredients and kitchen utensils all look wonderful, with detailed textures on the sushi ingredients and a clean presentation of the kitchen environment.  The low-polygon character models, however, could have been much better and there were also several cases where the same person appeared more than once.

The audio, unfortunately, is something of a mixed bag.  The ambient sounds of the restaurant are pleasant, and the sizzling of tempura adds to the atmosphere.  However, the voice acting for the occasional customer feedback feels generic and repetitive and borders on frustrating.  Throughout the entire time I played Cooking Simulator – Sushi, I could hear one customer repeating the same thing continuously.  What’s worse is that he continued repeating the same thing even after my restaurant had closed.  Even worse still is that I never once saw him – his voice was simply a background sound, meant to help immerse me deeper, and there was no way to stop him!

Conclusion

Cooking Simulator – Sushi offers a wide selection of recipes and the variety of authentic sushi ingredients allows you to explore the full spectrum of sushi-making possibilities.  There are also plenty of customers to serve, adding to the vibrant energy. The ambience of a busy street food market is convincingly recreated, with the constant background hubbub of hustle and bustle immersing you in the experience.

Overall, I enjoyed Cooking Simulator – Sushi.  While it offers a tempting selection of ingredients, recipes, and tutorial videos, the reliance on an in-game mobile phone for everything feels clunky and unpolished compared to the superior quality of the main Cooking Simulator game.  The unskippable videos and phone-based ordering system detract from the immersion, especially considering chefs wouldn’t realistically use phones for all these tasks; a full-screen computer or tablet interface would be a more natural fit. This inconsistency breaks the flow of the DLC, which is a shame given the strong foundation established in the main game.

In its current state, Cooking Simulator – Sushi feels unfinished, and that is a shame because it certainly has lots of potential to be just as good as the main Cooking Simulator game.

Pros:

  • Wide variety of authentic sushi recipes and ingredients.
  • Decent visuals.
  • New mechanics such as the sushi rolling mat and rice cooker add variety.
  • Sandbox mode is always fun.

Cons:

  • The mobile phone feature is almost unusable and should be replaced by a full-screen interface.
  • Repetitive customer orders become tedious.
  • Poor character models.
  • Physics glitches / frequent clipping.
  • The overall game feels unfinished.

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