The complete recipe to your RPG fix for this month!
There are quite a few role playing games for the Nintendo 3DS, and each one tries to do things in their own fashion. While most follow a standard formula, I was quite intrigued when I heard about Adventure Bar Story. It seemed like a game where they combined restaurant management with a classic dungeon crawling format, which made me want to jump in right away.
Adventure Bar Story tells the tale of Siesla, who has to save the bar of her sister, Kamerina. Their place, located in the Cassel Kingdom, is on the brink of buyout by a man named Gustav. This rich businessman owns the best place to eat in the kingdom and wants to bring Kamerina's place into his chain. Siesla isn't having any of this and must use her exploration and cooking skills to beat Gustav at his own game. While the setup is interesting, Adventure Bar Story doesn't feature many story bits throughout. You have a confrontation with Gustav once in a while, but there isn't much else really there. That being said, there is something charming about knowing everything in the first five minutes.
What isn't so charming are the tutorials that the game gives you. While Adventure Bar Story gave me some basic directions, they didn't do a very good job teaching me the various mechanics. This made going through the menus a quest on its terms, which I don't feel should be quite the case. In the first few moments with the title, I just had a hard time getting things done and progress was overall somewhat sluggish. I had to learn about all the items and needed to grasp what each stat exactly entailed. After a while, it all came together and I navigated myself without a second thought. Those initial moments in the game could have been handled a lot better, however.
There are two sides to the gameplay of Adventure Bar Story. To save the bar, Siesla needs to be a star cook, but every cook needs his/her ingredients. These items, known as ''mats'' in the game, can be either bought in a shop or collected in the dungeons. More often than not, you will find yourself heading for the dungeons, and these can be only visited once a day. The player will head there with a party and exploring them is quite standard fare. You will have to destroy enemies in turn-based battles, collect the materials that you will need and get out of there in one piece. The battles are quite a breeze in the beginning, and you can slaughter them in no time. As time progresses, however, bigger and better strategies are needed to overcome the various foes. At the end of every dungeon, there is even a big baddie awaiting your arrival. It is all a ton of fun and I had a good time grinding my way to the top, even if the maps are a bit on the smaller side.
Unlike most role playing games, it is a bit strange how you level up your characters. They will need to eat the food that you create, which is quite a strain on your resources. You will need to grind a ton more to keep the bar and your characters moving forward, which can form some frustration. It is also a struggle, considering you are restricted by going to one dungeon a day in Adventure Bar Story. Upgrading your characters is worth it though in the long run, and each of them have unique skills that can be seen as useful.
Once your day of grinding has come to a halt, it is time to enter the kitchen. Players are instantly greeted by two options: They can either make something original or get some guidance in the form of a recipe. While making something original can be seen as a gamble, I had a ton more fun approaching it that way. With the recipes, you aren't given a clear direction every single time. Some of them only offer slight hints on what you need to do and it becomes a guessing game. That risk is actually greater than creating something from scratch, because once you use a mat, it doesn't come back if you fail.
With that all out of the way, the cooking itself is quite a lot of fun. There are over 400 dishes that you can prepare for your guests and a lot is at stake while preparing them. You will need to take the projected sales and the consumer reaction into account and offer a compelling menu that people are willing to pay for. The initial days might be a struggle, but as you explore dungeons and understand more recipes, you will have more chances to convince the public. This side is all backed by management options that are easy to get a handle on and are inherently great to use.
Adventure Bar Story is a decent game with an excellent value proposition. The tutorials could have been better and the game's story is a bit bare bones, but it does offer solid gameplay. With fun mechanics for both the dungeon and the cooking sections, I felt compelled to finish it. This didn't go without some frustration throughout, but it didn't make me want to turn it off either. At the end of the day, Adventure Bar Story can be seen as filler before the next big thing hits on the Nintendo 3DS and I am totally okay with that.