Too much of a good thing?
Adventure bar story has it all. It is a game that sets out to be both a cooking/restaurant management sim and a traditional Japanese Role Playing Game. This sort of game isn’t entirely unique, but there have been so few attempts at the sub genre brought over to Western markets that ABS may as well be a wholly original concept to many who pick it up.
My initial excitement for Adventure Bar Story was unparalleled by any other RPG release on the platform. As a fan of games in the vein of Recettear and Rune Factory, this looked to be right up my alley. For the most part, ABS is exactly what I had wanted, but so much so that it works to the game’s detriment.
Many iOS gamers, including myself, are constantly looking for depth in their mobile gaming experience. The heaping portion of depth served up by ABS, with respect to the amount of choices presented to the player, quickly became paralyzing as a part of a pick up and play gaming experience.
The player’s task in Adventure Bar Story is the upkeep of their family’s restaurant- which requires the constant pursuit of more intricate recipes, many of which have sub-recipes associated with them. Recipes can be discovered through experimentation, but the in game logic associated with what will make a dish doesn’t lend itself to easily guessing a recipe. I felt that I wasn’t on the same wavelength as the developer, so what should have felt like an exercise in player creativity felt more like a constant effort to try any and every possible combination of ingredients and tools. I am sure that there is some intended logic behind the recipes, but I found it much easier to purchase recipes in the town store. As the player accrues recipes, the amount of possibilities feels staggering, and the game’s cramped and fiddly menus don’t suit the amount of data available to players. I would feel much more comfortable playing Adventure Bar Story with a companion spreadsheet.
These recipes require significant volumes of ingredients- which is where the game’s secondary mechanic comes in. Players must scour nearby dungeons for ingredients. The floors of said dungeons are littered with milk, table salt and other such items, as if once nightly a grocery store is upturned over the woodlands. While this is a handy way to avoid paying for ingredients in town, the sheer variety and amount of ingredients starts to make them feel meaningless.
As the player negotiates these dungeons they are peppered by random assaults from hidden monsters. The battles play out in typical jRPG fashion, and players’ options on the battlefield are largely simple and reminiscent of the earlier final fantasy games. There are, however; some interesting moves that allow for manipulation of the ingredients that will drop at the end of the battle. The encounter rate is frustratingly high near the start of the game, despite the fact that battles are both simple and routine. Battle options expand as new players join the party and additional abilities are learned, and eventually these conflicts became my favorite part of the game.
If it sounds as if I am dissatisfied with Adventure Bar Story, it is because it’s redeeming qualities are primarily the same elements that drag it down. It seems that somewhere along the line the creators forgot what every food enthusiast worth his salt should know, “everything in moderation.”
Adventure Bar Story is available now on the App Store for $0.99, and while I didn’t find it worth the time it takes to fully experience the game. It is worth the small asking price to experience something new. If I didn’t mention the in-app-purchasing during my review, it is because they are entirely unnecessary.