If you thought cooking was boring, turns out you just needed to go back to the Middle Ages.
Reviewed by Liam Noble Shearer
A VR spin on a couple of classics.
When the the trailer for Novity's Rags to Dishes dropped earlier this month, I was certainly intrigued. Reading a bit more about the Manchester-based U.K. start-up, I kept a keen eye of their development blog. I figured, at best, Rags to Dishes would be a cheap and cheerful arcade cooking sim.
After getting my hands on it, though, I see that it's so much more. Not only is the style and story endearing and engaging, but it's also crafted with enough attention and care to make the gameplay an absolute delight.
Don't you mean "Rags to Riches"?
Clearly the pun in the title tells you more than a little about the game's plot. You begin the first of three stages as but a humble peasant chef, looking to serve your fellow serfs the most delicious food you can muster.
As you dish out delights, you begin to pick up steam and your name gets out there. Before you know it, you're serving beers and pies to noble countrymen. Not too long after that, you're in with the big dogs. I fear I've made it sound too much like some sort of arcade leveller, which would be misleading. I'm not going to spoil too much, but let's just say there's a story tying the game together that keeps things engaging - and a sweet old lady to keep you motivated when your customers get mad at you.
The endearing and quirky art style also adds more than a little charm to the experience. In fact, I fear that without it (and, of course, the story) the gameplay might start getting a little old. It is, after all, just a cooking sim, albeit with some pretty flawless VR integration.
On a Scale from 'Rag' to 'Dish'...
The other thing that keeps Rags to Dishes holding your attention, though, is the gameplay. In fact, I'd argue it wouldn't be much of a stretch to say that this might be the most functionally sound and fluid VR cooking simulator out there just now.
This is helped in large part by the fact that the Developers clearly put their heart and soul into making this thing run flawlessly. As a result, they've really hit the sweet spot a lot of cooking sims seem to miss - you're involved enough to always stay engaged, but it never feels too technical of finnicky.
As you progress through the game, new challenges can be offset by the ability to upgrade aspects of your kitchen. This really makes it feel like you're never out your depth, even if it gets challenging at times. As the skill requirement increases, the transition is done by introducing new items to the menu.
Some cooking games randomly make the process of cooking pizza dough about 10,000 times more difficult for no reason, just to make the game more difficult. Don't worry, this is not one of those games.
I'm also shocked I've gone this far without mentioning the bird. Let's just say, it feels good to throw things at him. Don't feel bad for him, he has it coming.
Rags to Dishes is a charming little cooking simulator. It's not unlike a lot of other VR multi-tasking experiences, but this one is a particular delight in a genre dominated primarily by fluff.
It looks exceptional and it has an engaging story, but the real magic is in the gameplay. For what it is, it's near flawless. Even if this genre of VR game isn't your cup of tea, I might consider trying it out anyway. It would be worth it just to see the amount of TLC Novity put into this thing.
But at $24.99, it's certainly not a one-and-done purchase for most people. Although the game also features a "frantic 5 minute " party mode, the three-stage campaign lasts for just over six hours. The charm and story of the campaign are a large part of what keeps you invested for that long, and I can't promise you'll be interested in continuing for tens of hours after the campaign cook is over.