Cooking Simulator’s new DLC brings players to a post-apocalyptic wasteland, introducing some big ideas that could create to a new niche genre.
The newest DLC for Cooking Simulator has arrived, and it’s very different previous ones. While past expansions have included simple things like making pizza and desserts, Shelter takes things in a new direction by making it about more than just running a restaurant or completing challenges — it adds a story, new mechanics and new foods with an apocalypse theme. While it still centers around cooking, Shelter offers a totally new way of experiencing a cooking game, one that should it sparks more cooking and RPG crossovers.
Cooking Shelter is a detailed simulation games where players need to season, mix, chop, fry, bake and more using a variety of ingredients. It also has the player running a restaurant kitchen which adds another layer of gameplay. This gameplay look is engaging on its own, but Shelter adds some traditional gameplay mechanics without losing track of the core cooking mechanics.
The DLC begins by introducing the player as a survivor in an apocalyptic wasteland. They’re an incredible cook who once had a lovely family, but after some vague incident, they disappeared. Since then, the player has become a wanderer who travels around in search of their loved ones. They arrive in a place called Sector 12 and setup a little temporary base with a kitchen. From here, the player starts making food for themselves and to trade with caravans and other survivors living nearby. It’s a great premise that falls inline with other niche games, like owning a store or running a tavern, proving that a cooking game could be made in the same style.
Shelter‘s recipes are totally new and mostly use unique ingredients with a post-apocalyptic theme. Some items are even reminiscent of the Fallout or Wasteland series, including things like green mushrooms, rat meat, canned spam and rad carp. There’s plenty more to unlock with progress, such as new recipes. Instead of simply having ingredients at the ready like in the base game, everything is in low supply, with the player having to acquire more themselves.
Purchasing ingredients is still an option, but there are two new ways to get them in Shelter. Players can now grow vegetables in little UV pots in the back of the kitchen and get more out of harvests with fertilizer. Non-canned meat can be hunted for using a rifle. While this is done in an area that’s more like a hunting gallery than a place to explore, it’s still a cool mechanic. It also requires the player to purchase ammo, adding to their expenses. The rifle can even be brought inside the kitchen shelter because, sometimes, unfriendly mutated plants will make an appearance.
Adding other mechanics opens up more ways of gathering ingredients, making Cooking Simulator about more than just preparing food or running a restaurant. There is a lot that could be done in a larger game, perhaps one that simplifies the cooking aspect. While there’s not much in the way of exploration in Shelter, it does show that there is plenty of room for it alongside other mechanics.
Shelter uses a map of Sector 12 to show what and who is in the area. Each NPC has their own homestead and are looking for help or to trade for the magnificent, radioactive delicacies the player creates. These are quests which further the story and have their own flair, making light of the problems of a post-apocalyptic world. There are also smaller side-quests players can take for some extra spending money, acting as mini-challenges like cooking a vegetarian dish or dealing with a certain amount of radiation. If funds are really low, the player can even sell ingredients, which makes hunting profitable.
Cooking Simulator: Shelter provides a great recipe for a cooking RPG. Although it’s still focused on detailed cooking, it introduces new mechanics that could be fleshed out to develop a new, niche genre. Hunting and gathering are simple here, but could be expanded upon to add exploration to a dedicated game, and even Shelter‘s story could inspire a larger mystery to uncover while foraging and cooking through a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
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