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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: 2
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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.
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