Let me preface this review with a little-known fact about me: of all the types of meat that can be eaten by humans, chicken meat is the crown prince of my mortal taste buds. From McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets to Slow Cooker Chicken A la Roi; white meat or dark meat; grilled, baked or fried, everything is fine with me!
So when Flipline Studios announced the development of Papa’s Cluckeria a few months ago, I just couldn’t contain my excitement. A game where you make juicy fried chicken sandwiches and mix up delicious slushies for a cornucopia of colorful characters? Why not get angry?
In terms of basic mechanics, Papa’s Cluckeria works like all other games in the series. You have four stations through which the order must progress: the Order Station, the Frying Station, the Build Station, and the Slushie Station. Once you’ve copied the customer’s order to the ticket at the order station, you then need to go to the fry station to coat their choice of meat in batter and flour and drop it into the fryer. Once that’s done, you take it to the build station to put it on a bun and give it the toppings the customer wants. You then take it to the Slushie station where, you guessed it, you make the customer their slushie.
So far, so standard. But what made me want to play Papa’s Cluckeria more than any other entry in the franchise was the plot.
The latest installment in the beloved restaurant management series is set in the isolated desert town of Oilseed Springs, where protagonists Olivia and Wylan B. receive information about their new job from Papa Louie himself. According to him, this borderline ghost town is the perfect place to settle for two reasons: the abundance of resources and the glaring lack of competition. Dad doesn’t realize that not one but three rival restaurants have moved into Oilseed Springs, ushering in the Chicken Sandwich War. Only one restaurant can come out on top, so it’s your job to make sure Papa’s Cluckeria outperforms Mortadello’s Bird Meat, NuCoop Fry Labs, and Crumple Family Chicken by any means necessary.
The idea of having to deal with other restaurants was the biggest selling point for me, as it was something Flipline Studios had never done before. cluckeria. The Flipline Studios blog had teased the information as early as November 2021, so I was eager to see what new challenges would arise.
Unfortunately, in the end there were none.
Aside from the player being shown an occasional cutscene detailing what other restaurants have been up to, their presence ultimately had no bearing on gameplay. To be fair, though, I can kind of understand why that is; the Papa Louie series as a whole is challenging enough, requiring the player to have some degree of multitasking and memory skill. Adding a new segment involving battling a rival might make the gameplay more stressful than necessary, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t have worked.
However, the concept of rivalry is not the only thing that Papa’s Cluckeria brought to the table. We now have a Free Play mode in the form of the Food Truck!
If you need a few extra tricks, you can switch to Food Truck mode to whip up whatever your heart desires and serve it to the public. In this mode, you don’t have to keep an eye on what’s in the fryer as all meat is cooked automatically and perfectly, so you can get creative with the sandwiches and slushies you make. There’s no time limit or pressure, but the main downside is that you don’t win as much money as in the standard game. Also, the customers you serve don’t offer you any other rewards like special recipes, so it’s really just a way to earn a few extra bucks while honing your cooking skills. It’s a practice mode, basically, but one that I feel is absolutely necessary in a series like Papa Louie.
Overall, although I was somewhat disappointed with the lack of new challenges, Papa’s Cluckeria is always great fun and definitely worth a visit if you like serving up smiles!