Review: Cuisine Royale

I can’t decide if Cuisine Royale is any good, if it’s fun or even if I like it. It is probably a bit of all three at times, but at others it is none of these. And this is my biggest problem with Cuisine Royale.

When I first heard of it I assumed it was some battle royale cookery game. It isn’t. It all started as a joke apparently as a mod for another game but has blossomed into its own release.

Why Cuisine Royale though? You see, instead of backpacks, people carry extra goodies in grocery bags. And for basic helmets they use pots and pans. That’s literally it. The website boasts realistic weaponry and mystic seals. So it’s basically PUBG with carrier bags and occasional demons? Yeah pretty much.

That’s where it starts to get weird. The comedy aspect quickly dissipates when you start in a French countryside surrounded by small towns. It looks and sounds real. Guns are mostly from WW2 era, Garands, Walter PPKs etc. I was so surprised when I put a saucepan on my head, I’m not sure what they’re going for here?

All the fun elements have this weird juxtaposition with the serious. Pick up some body armour, and you see a fridge which contains roast dinners to restore health points and a shopping bag. Maybe some aztec coins which you can use in a slot machine to win a German sniper rifle. Odd.

There’s some nice twists. You get mystic seals which do stuff, like slow opponents down. I don’t know how to use them – it doesn’t tell you. Maybe specific spots on a map? I have seen a few, but haven’t managed to deploy any. There are a choice of four characters, each with special abilities – two of which you have to buy with cash money. The standard man has a werewolf ability where you can run super fast and super melee people. You do this by earning souls by surviving or killing people (or smashing up totems that dead people drop). With a few people left, all these abilities get triggered and it’s chaos. I prefer a tactical, tense finale. This isn’t that. Well, maybe tense in a different way I suppose.

It looks nice and runs fluidly on PS4 Pro. It actually looks very nice at parts, but it’s a shame that it’s all a bit janky. It just smarts of a lack of polish – but still more than console PUBG. The world is really ripe for a realistic battle royal game with the kind of performance that Fortnite brings. That said, despite the weaponry and short time to kill, Cuisine Royale isn’t necessarily that realistic. Everyone starts in their pants (unless you’ve bought an outfit) and armour you collect gets added onto your character. It comes in parts – knee pads, shoulder pads etc, and looks decent. Then you can get an oxygen tank which helps you breathe longer underwater, a cigar which gives you more health, rabbit shoes which let you jump super high…. okaaaay. It’s a weird mix seeing someone with rabbit jumping, a halo on and a single shot WW2 rifle.

There are no lobbies in Cuisine Royale. The game just starts, and you’re on the map. Matches have about 40 people and there are a few different maps to play on. It’s nice that it’s instant, but the starts are fairly passive as you look for guns knowing you’ve been placed strategically around the world. It does let you tool up though, and highlight the immensely horrible and basic inventory and item system. Coloured text floats above objects in the world – it’s as though they just haven’t got around to properly implementing that yet with a nice UX. I suppose this is sort of early access?

I was fortunate enough to have the Age of Nagual pack. This costs 50 Euros and gets you two outfits off the bat, a male cowboy for Generic Man and a female adventure outfit for the Generic Lady. You also get the Aztec High Priest Suit and some bits for the muscly man (whose special power is a giant jump and crash back down from the sky – another weird one when there are just 5 people left) and some space bucks in the form of Crowns. You also get a story book, which is basically challenges. Or a battle pass. Or both? It’s unclear. You earn currency to unlock stuff in a battle pass type thing, but the interface is horrific that it’s hard to tell what you have, what you’re unlocking and how much you need to do it. There are a lot of pants to unlock though, so there’s that. In the bundle the challenges are timed, so you only get them or 2 months, and you get an XP bonus too. It feels fairly steep for the content you get if I’m honest, but if you get a lot of enjoyment out of Cuisine Royale, given it’s free you perhaps won’t mind.

So, is it any good? Well, some bits are, yes. There are some neat ideas here – the way the camera is actually a little bird looking at your character, so if you see a little bird then there is probably someone hiding from you. Nice touch. As I mentioned, it’s fluid and nice looking. But also janky – try climbing up a ladder, the character sprints forwards and just moves vertically. Getting down is worse. The combat feels ok, until you realise how powerful melee is and given there’s a lot of single shot rifles and not much ammo for anything, you can tool up and get punched to death at the end. The ‘hilarious’ cooking theme is just weird. I’m enjoying it, sometimes, but it is frustrating – and those frustrations seem to be part of the design, which isn’t reassuring me that it could improve.

For now, it’s a worthy time-waster for a bit, but it’s not quite ready to tickle the big boys. As much as it adds, it isn’t quite adding its own identity to separate it from those.

Reviewed on PS4

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