The other day I was starving, so I went downstairs to get something to eat. The fridge was empty, save for a few key ingredients like eggs and milk that never seem to run out. I remembered just then that I absolutely hate cooking because I’m really, really bad at it. Sure, I can make a mean omelet, but anything more complex is probably going to end up being bland or overcooked. So I ended up ordering some sushi instead.
Just because I’m not the best chef in real life, doesn’t mean I can’t be one in a game! These are some games that feature fun culinary-themed storylines that people of any cooking skill level can enjoy!
Cafe in the Clouds by Cafe Nemo
Cafe in the Clouds is absolutely adorable and a game I’ve quite enjoyed playing. In this game, it is your job to find the anxieties in your clients’ dreams and use them as ingredients in your dishes. This game features a point-and-click system where you can solve puzzles to earn sweet ingredients. This is not your average cafe, surely, but that doesn’t mean the food doesn’t look absolutely incredible. By the end, you’ll want to be snacking on the dessert you’ve managed to make once you’ve escaped your clients’ dream. This game is fairly short and can be played in a single sitting, for those of you who may be in a time crunch. I’ll also especially recommend this game if you like yuri games, as it features a cute and romantic ending if you score a five-star dish!
You can download Cafe in the Clouds for free on itch.io.
Ell’s Kitchen by WitPOP
Ell’s Kitchen is a short, free cooking-based visual novel that was released for the 2020 Yuri Game Jam. While it’s only 2,000 words long, this short and sweet experience is worth checking out nonetheless. The entire game encompasses an episode of Ell’s cooking show, appropriately named Ell’s Kitchen, where she cooks food for her friends in her girlfriend’s kitchen. The food art is really pretty and reminds me a lot of the old Cooking Mama games on the Nintendo DS. My favorite part about this game is the voice acting. Each line is fully voiced, including some characters speaking Teo Chew!
You can play Ell’s Kitchen for free in your browser or download the game on itch.io.
Baked With Love by Mimi Chiu
Baked With Love is a free visual novel about magic, baking, and love. You play as Wick on your first day at a magical bakery, where magic is used in the actual production of the baked goods. Along the way, you accidentally poison yourself and end up romantically interested in your boss. Hilarity ensues. This visual novel features a cooking minigame where you use a recipe book (encoded in very thematic magical riddles!) to select ingredients and create delicious-looking snacks. A nice addition to the game is the lovely background music that immerses the player into the life of a baker almost right away. I really like that in this game, your character’s response is presented as a choice button, regardless of if there’s a single dialogue prompt or several.
You can download Baked With Love for free on itch.io.
Cooked With Love by yam harvest games
Cooked With Love is one of the most relatable games on this list. You take the role of Perry, who has finally gotten a first date with their crush, Lily. The only problem is that you lost your wallet and can’t take her to the fancy restaurant you’ve got a reservation for! Instead, you decide to cook some food at home for your date. The only problem there is you’ve got almost no experience cooking and a limited stock of ingredients in your fridge. The combinations you can make are pretty humorous and your companions will call you out on your cooking skills. Even though the game is fairly short, this developer allows you to pick your first and last name, your hairstyle, whether you wear pants or a skirt, and your pronouns!
You can download Cooked With Love for free on itch.io.
Hustle Cat by Date Nighto
In Hustle Cat, you take the role of Avery, the newest employee at A Cat’s Paw, the city’s premier cat cafe. You’re able to choose from six versions of Avery with differing hairstyles and skin colors. You can also choose your pronoun, which you can change at any time in the middle of the game. In this game, you’ll be surrounded by coffee, cats, and cute coworkers! Find some love while you make money, but also stumble upon a mysterious secret. All may not be as it appears at A Cat’s Paw. While this game is more about befriending your coworkers and solving a mystery than actually cooking, it still creates a fun restaurant vibe for players. You’ll be able to immerse yourself in your new job.
What are some of your favorite cooking-themed games? Let us know in the comments below!