Trevor Chan's Restaurant Empire Review (PC)
Let me take a moment to drop in a quick little ditty about myself. Think of this as an intimate moment between you the reader (I would hope there are at least a couple out there) and I, the reviewer. Another step in the dance of the game review, so to speak.
When Restaurant Empire by Enlight Inc arrived at my door, I have to say I smirked and raised that eyebrow, thinking; “Oh great, this should be good” in a most nonobjective tone. However, as I began to get into the game I quickly began to feel something in that lump of coal that passes for a soul…a tingling sensation called “fun”.
The game is strictly a solo affair with no multiplayer action but I am not sure how well another player would fit into this type of game. As a single player game, it excels at engaging the player to aim for challenging goals while giving an almost unlimited number of options in achieving them.
Now for some this may not be a lot of fun and until I played this game, I have to say I would have agreed with them but I found the challenge of trying to attract and keep customers happy in Chez Capt very interesting and engaging.
Once built, the Restaurant needs to attract and keep customers happy. This is not an easy task as the people in this world are fussy and generally ungrateful. Mark my words, you will hate those digital little whiners as they complain about just about everything from noise and food quality, to how hard the chairs are on their pampered fat little asses!! Ahem…nevertheless, keeping them content will drive up the star rating of your place, which in turn will guide what you can charge and how fancy you can look. You also have to keep employee training, marketing and menu prices in mind, in what amounts to a very fine balance. All of this puts pressure on the bottom line and making money to buy better recipes, hire better staff and eventually open more restaurants, which is the name of the game.
The game runs in real time but during slow periods it has a handy dandy time acceleration function which you can employ to keep things moving along. You will have to “pop out of warp” quite often as random events and complaints will set off an in game alarm which you will have to check out to ensure that you aren’t headed towards disaster.
The RPG is very good at setting challenging goals and giving a player a reason to keep playing. Each scenario lasted about 1 hr or so for me so the RPG give a solid 20 hrs of game time which is pretty decent in this day and age. All in all, I found that this element enhanced game play, even though it was somewhat ham-handed at times.
Restaurant Empire ships almost bug free. It only crashed once on me and a robust quick game save capability helped ease that pain.
The graphics are fair and more functional than inspired. The RPG cut scene animations are amateur and can be excruciating to watch. The camera system takes some getting used to but once you have it down it is actually quite flexible and easy to navigate. The view is 3-D isometric but you can zoom in and pan with a moderate amount of freedom. As most of the “world” is in fact inside your restaurants you will find your camera quite adequate to the task.
Overall, it is the actual mechanics of game play that carry this game. The producers would do well to look hard at their visual and auditory production values if they want to release a sequel.
In conclusion, Restaurant Empire provides a classic brunch overall: not quite breakfast and not quite lunch but still a good meal with a slice of melon. The requirement to maintain a fine balance of many conflicting factors in a very flexible and “malleable” world opens the door to a very fun gaming experience in the tradition of SimCity or Ceaser III.
If you like hands off/“ant farm” strategy games and are tired of all the killing, Restaurant Empire may very well be for you.