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About the StoryMissing employees, wily crustaceans, malfunctioning kitchen equipment and a terminal food shortage, all on the night the most important culinary critic in the world has chosen to review your debut restaurant? Surely there's nowhere to go but up.
Nominee, Best Setting; Winner, Best Puzzles; Nominee, Best Individual PC - 2003 XYZZY Awards
5th Place overall; 3rd Place, Miss Congeniality Awards - 9th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2003)
-- Emily Short
>VERBOSE -- Paul O'Brian's Interactive Fiction Page
There's at least one in every comp: a game with great potential, clever writing, and fun portions that dissolves into a mind-numbing bugfest at its end, apparently the product of a rush to deadline and a lack of patience. In Comp03, Gourmet is the first game of that type I've played, and the letdown is as stinging as ever. If interactive fiction ever got reviews in People magazine, the write-up for this game would probably end with, "BOTTOM LINE: Good ingredients, but undercooked."
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"My name is James, and I'll be your sommelier this evening. Might I recommend a bottle of Gourmet '03? It's a delightful game with a hint of sitcom in the nose. Bananas repeat on the palate where they are joined by the flavors of panic and pain. Its upbeat character fades with a long, slow finish."
-- J.D. Berry
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Number of Reviews: 5
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Most Helpful Member Reviews
There are a few problems, though. First, your entire staff has called in sick. Second, almost no food has been delivered. Third, the only lobster you have left stares at you with really evil eyes...
Gourmet is a comic game which leans towards slapstick. In the first half of the game, you are faced with mishap after mishap; think of stumbling over a lobster and spilling three bowls of soup over your most important client's new suit, and you'll have the right idea. (Though this doesn't actually happen in the game.) Because the pace is right and the descriptions are well written, this is a lot of fun.
Unfortunately, the game stalls somewhat in the second half. The puzzles becomes much more elaborate and involve timed sequences, so that you'll be struggling more to get the story to move on. Sometimes you'll even be doing the same acion two or three times because you weren't quick enough in doing something else; and of course, repeating jokes is fatal to enjoyment. So the second half, although it has a great premise, isn't quite as much fun as the first.
Also, there seem to be some bugs. I, for one, couldn't get the game to end. The final command in the walkthru gave me "I don't suppose the lobster would care for that.", which is strange, given the circumstances.
Had the pacing been better and the bugs been squashed, this would be a must-play comic piece. As it is, it is still recommended.
I really enjoyed playing this, especially once I realised that (despite the well-managed sense of urgency) I wasn't going to be forced to start over just for taking a while to figure out any of the puzzles. I also liked the fact that a fair few of the "silly" things I tried when I was stuck gave me amusing responses.
I couldn't find a way to put the game in an unwinnable position, and the bugs noted in the competition release seem to have been fixed in the latest one (apart from a couple of output bugs that don't affect gameplay at all). Very few typos, if any.
Gourmet is an enjoyable little evening in a gourmet restaurant that has you preparing dishes, dealing with customers, and generally having a great time. It's a game that, initially, I thought I wasn't going to enjoy. I thought I would find the tasks mundane, and too much like real work for my liking, but that turned out not to be the case.
There are a few oddities with some actions taking place behind the scenes, as it were, or fairly innocuous actions triggering a whole bunch of other things to happen. That wasn't too bad once I got used to scanning the text carefully to be sure I didn't miss everything that had happened.
Another oddity was the stack of first aid kits in the supply cupboard, which can't be referred to as 'kit' or 'kits' but only as 'bandages' or 'stack'. It led me to believe they were just scenery for quite some time.
And then the syntax for getting the sheet music out of the glass frame in the toilet was a little frustrating, as the game didn't recognise the word 'frame', so I couldn't 'smash frame'.
A few other line break oddities showed up as well, and the endgame looked like it was missing an rtrue to abort a default response, but otherwise, this was an enjoyable little game.
I don't have a lot to say here. I think a little more beta-testing would be good, and would iron out a few of the formatting and synonym irregularities, but overall, a very enjoyable and well-written piece.
The writing was great, with a good sense of how to impart the comedy of various situations without being heavy-handed. A nice treatment of the action scenes as well, which seem to fall flat in a lot of IF.
I really loved going through the tasks required in this game, and really got the feeling I was running my own restaurant. I could feel the danger of having the whole evening crash down around my lovely chef hat.
The score is a little lower here, just for a lack of extra synonyms and verbs, as well as the linebreak and formatting issues. I also had a little bit of an issue with the extended actions triggered as a result of some of my actions.
I loved this one. Definitely one of the best I've seen so far. I think shadows on the mirror just, and only just, edges Gourmet out because of shadow's more polished feel.
WABE score: 7.75
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