Recipe for Disaster - PC Early Access Review

Recipe for Disaster
by developer Dapper Penguin Studios and publishers Kasedo Games and Kalypso Media Digital Ltd.PC Early Access review written by Susan N. with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Recipe for Disaster is a hilarious test of micromanagement skills. Players must run an entire restaurant like a true business owner by building and altering the establishment, hiring staff, creating the menu, and managing customer expectations. With all of that, players must complete objectives to advance to the next level.

Let's toss the fish in a barrel and light some kitchens on fire, shall we?


There's a reason that restaurants tend to fail within the first five years of opening. That is because it's one of the hardest professions to have due to the cost. Having worked within the fast-food environment, I'm no stranger to the basic principles of keeping a restaurant running. Unlike other businesses where people can simply return a product for a refund or a replacement, the restaurant business also has to make sure that customers aren't having allergic reactions to food, adhere to safety principles, and manage the high cost of waste. Never mind the fact that your equipment can fail in a variety of ways. It may not seem like that is much, but when you work in the foodservice industry, there tend to be a million aspects that staff have to consider.

Now that we've got that out of the way, Recipe for Disaster is exactly what you expect it to be. Players are tasked with completing various objectives while paying attention to the minutia of owning a restaurant. The game begins with an easy level where the objective is to serve a certain amount of customers. The restaurant doesn't have much going for it in terms of menu options or any of the complicated situations at this point in the game, but your staff are newbs. They set things on fire because they are bad cooks.

After playing the game for a decent amount of time I find myself strangely addicted to the early access game. It is well balanced in terms of the staff personality traits and tasks, your ability to change and add restaurant features with ease, and checking the user reviews immediately after they leave the establishment. These gameplay aspects help the player to create the best restaurant experience possible as they fight fires in the kitchen, decorate their dining area, and fight with staff to complete their tasks. Regardless, I had a ton of fun playing the game.

However, despite the amazing foundation that Recipe for Disaster has, there are some minor flaws and quality of life features that I would personally like to see fixed or added.

Heating Up the Grill (Minor Issues)

For one thing, I'd love to have a little more variety in the build menu. A cooking game that excels at this is the Cook, Serve, Delicious series which rewards players with decorations and upgrades. After every level, players earn money that they can use to purchase recipes or items. While I do really love that players can create their own masterpiece recipes, I felt underwhelmed with the decoration options. Unlike management games like the Sims, Recipe for Disaster only has one toilet option. What the developers have done is opted to allow players to put a stall door on a wall instead of a bathroom stall being its own item. When working with limited space, it would be amazing to have a little more variety in the build menu.

Another minor grievance about the build menu is how unintuitive it can be at times. As an example, I built a customer bathroom because there wasn't one available (a point I'll get into momentarily). It wasn't until much later that I discovered that I had placed the ceiling light outside of the wall! Not only did the customers not complain about it, but I felt that the lack of camera control was frustrating at times. Additionally, in many countries, sit-down restaurants MUST have public washrooms otherwise they aren't allowed to open. Just keep that in mind.

Finally, players can't designate a break area for staff that I know of. There is often a predesignated bench located outside that staff can take breaks at. The problem is that players cannot build additional benches for the staff. Nor can they place a table because the game treats those as customer-only usage. Essentially, I think what the game lacks, in this case, is simply a small menu to create a break room.

Incidentally, the build menu isn't the only minor grievance I have about the game. There were several points where staff idled in the middle of the dining area, without having a server stand or cash register. Furthermore, there were times where the staff would idle in the bathroom! Not only did that not go over well with the customers, but I found that the staff would sometimes return to the same location. Yes, we can move the staff but the customers would ignore the presence of others until after they left. Yikes.

Graphics and UI

Recipe for Disaster is graphically neat with its cartoonish style and relatively easy UI. The characters have different personalities as well as likes and dislikes. At any time, players can view the thoughts of their staff, look at the desires of their customers, and manage their restaurant accordingly. It has a decent variety of wallpaper colors and textures to choose from. Plus, when the kitchen catches fire, it is comedy gold for a short time.

What really makes Recipe for Disaster an amazing title is the UI design. Players are able to switch to build mode to modify features while in the middle of a level. They are also able to designate cleaning areas in and out of the restaurant giving the game a more realistic feel. In fact, there is an adjustable sliding bar that indicates how dirty a location has to be before a staff member will go over the area. But despite that, it was mildly annoying to have to click on individual tables to get staff to clean them.

Pros and Cons

For the pros of the game, I have a list of excellent aspects of Recipe for Disaster.

     Players control everything including the uniform look

     Excellent foundation for an Early Access title

     Graphically pleasing

     Well balanced gameplay that gives players tons of useful information

     Has a roadmap that will include features like a bar area and future Twitch integration (I have horrific visions of this already!)

     Staff level up over time. They get perks based on the most used job function, which is a great addition in my opinion

The cons in Recipe for Disaster are mostly minor issues that are not game-breaking in the least. Among them are:

     Cannot setup a break room

     Needs more item customization

     The physical building of the restaurant is a bit of a pain

     The UI size cannot be adjusted. This can be an accessibility issue

     There isn't yet a sandbox or free play mode however, this is being actively worked on according to this dev update post

Final Thoughts

Recipe for Disaster is a wonderful time sink that I thoroughly enjoyed. It has everything needed to create a fun and challenging gameplay experience. I had a fun time managing the tasks, customizing my restaurant, and puzzling out the needs of customers.

Of all the cooking based simulators out there, Recipe for Disaster is quite high on my list. It is both challenging and enjoyable to play. The UI is well laid out, the game has a great aesthetic, and it is quite entertaining. It is complex enough to keep players invested in their restaurants, and yet the game is rather relaxing to play. It is my opinion that despite the fact that Recipe for Disaster is in the Early Access stage, the game is spectacular. Management sim fans do yourself a favor and grab this game. You will love it!

Score: 9/10