I took the rare step of buying Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! on its release date at full price because (1) I expected it to be worth it and (2) I intended to play it immediately. That’s a common Steam rule, right? “Don’t buy it for more than $5/75% off unless you are going to play it today”? Yeah, I logged several hours that first night, as promised. I feel like I owe you an update to that edited note of “you may or may not want to wait.”
I found the game playable and enjoyable at launch, with some limits. There have been three updates in the week since the game launched. In addition to bug and stability fixes, it added mouse support to menus, which is probably a sign that it shipped before being quite done. Additions included some rebalancing, more achievements, cloud saves, and decorative options. Nothing huge. The bigger update coming next month will add a sandbox mode and a mode more like the original Cook, Serve, Delicious!, without changing the two modes that currently exist. That seems to be catering to returning players, without wanting to take away from players who like the newer approaches. The big change that I am looking for, customizable keys for ingredients, is also projected for that update.
Without that feature, I am enjoying a subset of the game. I have found areas I will not enjoy without customizable keys. I am playing with a keyboard, and some of the default keys are absurd. The best simple examples come from the dessert restaurant: sprinkles are P on ice cream and S on cannolis, while chocolate sauce is usually C but O cannolis; Taiwanese shaved ice has mango ice (A), mango sauce (also A, on another page), and mango fruit (M, not A, on the third page); Taiwanese shaved ice also does exciting things like abbreviating “jelly” and “boba” differently between ingredients and giving blackberry boba pearls the letter E, which is not even present in the abbreviation used (“Bo.Blk.Bry”). These are whiny details, but there are a lot of whiny details across 180 foods, each of which can have more than a dozen ingredients, and the whole point of the game is to hit these keys quickly and consistently. When your time limit per customer is counted in the seconds, and you need perfect days to unlock medals and new foods, pausing to check that Texas tea is X not T can be enough to lose your gold medal.
That said, I have been enjoying myself. I am avoiding restaurants and foods where I strongly want to rebind keys. I do not need to pursue all the Chef For Hire levels (yet!), and I can pick whatever foods I want in my restaurant. Those levels range from trivially easy chances to learn recipes to ridiculously difficult. That is intentional. One of the design goals of CSD2 is to let the player pick the difficulty. You can get a fairly even difficulty curve going through the Chef For Hire levels and leveling up. The upcoming modes will provide more customization opportunities. If you have ever wanted a game that will let you pick your own degree of difficulty consistently, CSD2 will do that, while delivering the original game’s fun of very hectic cooking and serving (or you can dial down the hecticness).
I will not consider it fully ready until version 1.1, but it is certainly playable and enjoyable now. And then there will be more updates after that.