Ah yes, couch co-op. What once was so dominant in the 90’s fell flat on its face when the online gaming became popular. But there is something about having a few good friends or family right next to you that online gaming just can’t replicate. Many indie developers have re-embraced this fact and brought local multiplayer back and better then ever. Publisher Team17, known for multiplayer hits like Worms, Moving Out and Overcooked are probably one of the best examples of how to do it right. Speaking of Overcooked, Belgian developer Rocket Vulture has recently released a similar culinary game called Cannibal Cuisine, yet different in a few ways!
Welcome to Cannibal Cuisine. The cannibal god Hoochooboo is hungry and as his loyal subjects, it is your job to satisfy his appetite. That’s it! When you start Cannibal Cuisine, you quickly realize that it was obviously important for the developers to get to the point quickly. If you expect a charming staged story in the style of Overcooked, you are in the wrong place. Neither an intro nor a short prologue explain the gaming experience, because here you are bumped straight into the fireplace. Even a look at the menus or the level selection reveals early on that the staging is not capitalized. But that shouldn’t bother you for now, we are all here for a cannibalizing and chaotic experience and if you saw the trailers you already know that this game has plenty of it.
In keeping with the couch co-op test, I also got the support of two friends to enjoy the culinary journey around the island to the fullest. At the beginning you start in the jungle, which is crossed by rivers and where only floating barrels form bridges to the other bank. However, as the Rocket Vulture announcement videos have already revealed, these locations change as the game progresses, where the gods also want to be appeased on open waters, inside a volcano or a cursed temple. If you cook hard through the 24 stages, you can even contest tough boss levels in which there is always a special challenge. What does not sound too bad in theory unfortunately has a bad catch in reality: the level of difficulty! Despite great experience from games like Overcooked or Moving Out, we as a team of three did not manage to get beyond the half point of the levels. Accordingly, we were unfortunately unable to see more of the game. “Sure, you are just noobs!” – many of you may think at this point, but life as a cannibal is more difficult than expected, believe me.
The fact that cannibal god Hoochoboo is a gourmet means that he is craving meat. It is important to get this first hand in the form of tourists, who have to be brutally butchered by you. With the ribs or hip steaks left behind, you march straight to the fireplace, add chilli, bananas, etc. as desired and the food is ready. To ensure that there is little idling here, it is particularly important to agree and a role allocation is put in place in advance if you wish to succeed. A little bit of game depth gives the character creation, where you can equip not only skin color, headgear and weapon but also a special ability. With the help of the sprint you can, for example, jump over rivers, the breath of fire accelerates the roasting time of your food, the pounder damages several tourists and the totem pole gives you healing. Perfecting these skills is imperative for the passage of a section, because not only the visitors defending themselves ensure you might die just as fast as them, but also the short time limit and the extremely crisp goal make you sweat easily. If you’re hoping for a cozy chat with friends here, you’re wrong with Cannibal Cuisine, because here frustration spreads faster than a cat on linen clothes.
However, it was not only the time limit or the level goals that were to be achieved by delivering the food that caused our failure, but also the lack of performance played a large part in this. The frame rate drops dramatically if there are too many ingredients or people on the screen at some point. Blatant stutters and delays in input sometimes took us almost a minute of a level, which automatically resulted in defeat at a three-minute limit. Although this problem had not arisen in single-player mode, the developers also made tough demands on the victory, which hardly allow mistakes, let alone forgive. From this point on, the Versus mode will no longer remedy where you can compete against other chefs locally or online in four different levels. At least there, in the presence of three friends, there is some fun while you are in action-packed 2 VS. 2 battle happy stages.
Cannibal Cuisine is an ambitious project, but it makes it all the more clear how high the bar of genre king Overcooked was set. With a few updates and tweaks this game might still be a good purchase to have some fun with friends. But oh boy will you be raging when visitors murder you just as easily or gameplay hiccups arise making you lose crucial time.
Cannibal Cuisine is a good game that is poorly served. The fun will be found with your friends but even then it will be a tough bite.