Uber Entertainment’s last game had charm. Wayward Sky [Review: 6/10] was an endearing mini-adventure for PlayStation VR that told a touching story and suggested its developer had a lot more to offer this new medium. Cosmic Chef on the other hand is all about character.
The developer’s new game, currently exclusive to Google Daydream, is one of the more colorful, charismatic examples of VR gaming you’ll find out there at the moment. It takes a sprinkling of Fruit Ninja and a dash of Guitar Hero or Rock Band, serving up an enticing dish that could be perfected with just a little bit more seasoning.
In Cosmic Chef you’ll face off against seven intergalactically renowned cooks, preparing their signature dishes by slicing and squashing ingredients. Food is fired at you in time with the beat of a song that your rival sings as you work and you’ll either need to swipe at it with the standard knife or hold down the Daydream controller’s trackpad to morph it into a hammer. The necessary cooking utensil is color coded with the type of ingredient it corresponds to, though you’ll also have to avoid purple skulls that will break your tools for a brief period of time upon connection.
Your enemies are easily the star of the show here. They’re made up of a crazy cast of wonderfully imaginative personalities and vivid designs. Each chef has their own song with three difficulty levels to master. Rex Machina, for example, is an auto-tuned, hip-hop loving dinosaur that demands you cook half roast chicken, half machine that laments that he’s “gotta get me some of those” opposable thumbs when you beat him at his own game. Zarp The Conqueror meanwhile, is a carbon copy of a certain Sith Lord that likes to spend his weekends as a BBQ king.
Lyrics and introductions had me laughing out loud, while your enemies prancing and dancing is entertainingly lively. Cosmic Chef‘s band of characters make for one of the most memorable casts yet seen in a VR game.
You can select each of your rival’s songs individually or compete in a season of the show, where you’ll face each of them in a random order, with difficulty increasing as you go. Seeing through a season will only take around 15 to 20 minutes, though Uber has clearly built the game with replayability in mind. There’s a strong emphasis on score and online leaderboards. All the same, there isn’t a huge amount of content here and we definitely would have liked at least double the number of songs and characters.
Harder difficulty modes will require multiple attempts to master, though. Gameplay here requires focus and reliance on both visual and audio cues. Trying to rely on one over the other is a speedy path to failure; it’s tough to tell when’s the right time to swipe with just your eyes and the music’s complexity can make it hard to keep up if you simply move to the beat. Getting into the flow of things provides that in-tune satisfaction we’ve come to crave from games like Guitar Hero in the past few years, but it never reaches the same heights, something I suspect has to do more with platform than software.
Daydream’s motion controls aren’t the ideal input method, as I longed for the responsiveness and reliability of a button press instead of often misplaced swipes. Cosmic Chef simply doesn’t have the mechanical precision of the games that inspire it, and it ends up feeling held back. That said, it’s probably as good as its hardware allows for.