Doing exactly what it says on the tin, Cooking Simulator VR is a great showcase of VR interactivity that can be absolutely hilarious. More in our Cooking Simulator VR review.
Okay, stop right there. You don’t need to say the obvious thing here. Y’know, the one about why on earth you’d bother playing a VR cooking game when you could just cook real food? Do you have an exhaustive pantry with unlimited funds to spend on ingredients and a professional, TV-grade chef on-hand to give you tips?
Wait, you do? Well, it’s good to know Jeff Bezos reads the site but, for the rest of us, Cooking Simulator lets us have fun with our food.
As with seemingly any game with ‘simulator’ in the title these days, this is a partly authentic, partly slapstick mash-up of finely-tuned, impossibly precise interactions strewn with hard-won victories and hilarious accidents. You get to experiment with hundreds of dishes using a wide range of ingredients, yes, but the game’s really all about the steady hands and time management you’ll need to make them.
The two modes you need to know about are Career and Sandbox. The former is a surprisingly robust adventure that starts out with modest ambitions. You’re opening a new restaurant and you’ll need to buy the equipment and food to run it. There’s a basic inventory to get you off the ground and then every successful dish will earn you more cash to spend on new items. Things quickly progress from tomato soup and baked trout — knowingly introduced with step-by-step guides that you’ll be expected to at least partly memorize — but mounting with multiple orders of increasing complexity. It’s a game of self-micromanagement; what can you do with the 60 seconds you have free whilst the potatoes cook? Do you have enough time to run to the fridge and season a salmon as the water boils? Dishes are timed, so you’ll need to get things out quickly to earn bonuses.
And then, on top of that, is the precision. You’ll need to slice up lemons equally, for example, or season meats and pour broths to an exact degree. It requires a firm hand and gives the game a unique element of self-control. This can teeter between fun and frustration, given how hard it is to do something like balancing potatoes on a plate when you have no tactile feedback to tell you when you’re tilting or moving too fast. But the game does have a skill tree to help combat this, with features like freezing items in place to allow you to more easily judge the size of slices, for example. Even then, though, some of your many mishaps are just going to come down to sheer, unavoidable bugginess.
At the other end of this well-structured campaign is the Sandbox offering, where you get to see Cooking Simulator’s silly side. Here’s where the physical complexity really comes into its own. Want to stack up bottles and knock them down with potatoes? You can do that. How about starting fires and hopelessly trying to mop them up? Knock yourself out. Yes, it’s aimless, but you can have a lot of fun pushing the boundaries of what’s possible here.
Perhaps inevitably, though, this makes optimization a bit of a problem. Even on low settings my mid-range rig would clough and splutter at the thought of balancing six items on a plate whilst remembering the 15 – 20 other interactable elements in the environment. I’d love to see a more optimized version of the game but, for now, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a decent machine if you want a flawless experience.
Cooking Simulator VR Review – Final Impressions
Cooking Simulator VR does what it says on the tin and does it very well. If you want, it can be a really satisfying cooking experience with a long list of recipes, a rock-solid career mode and almost exactly the right degree of intricacy to its mechanics. Or you can turn it into an utter madhouse and watch its systems collide in a glorious ode to kitchen fires and food poisoning. You’ll need a decent rig to sustain the mayhem and if ever a VR game needed haptic feedback, it’s this, but Cooking Simulator VR delivers a robust and realistic experience worthy of a chef’s kiss.
For more on how we arrived at this rating, read our review guidelines. What did you make of our Cooking Simulator VR review? Let us know in the comments below!