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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Running a cafe using the undead isn’t sanitary, but there’s a game about it

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Necromantic cooking and restaurant manager Bone’s Cafe released this past week, and while that’s not a genre to theme pairing I’d expect it’s pretty adorable, pretty fun, and profoundly concerning if you’re a member of the health department. It’s a quick-moving game for 1-4 couch co-op or Remote Play Together players to get stuck in on, designing and automating their own kitchen and restaurant.

Seriously, isn’t letting a zombie into the kitchen a serious public health issue? All that rotting flesh, all those buzzing flies? A skeleton can’t be much better, can it? The porous bone surfaces are surely a haven for bacteria.

Either way, eponymous proprietor Bone is using necromancy for cheap labor, a brilliant and time-honored tradition.  The best part is that the employees won’t narc on you when you start murdering customers to feed them to other customers: “strategically attract, kill, and harvest customers for fresh ingredients and use their souls to raise an undead army!” says the game page. On a more serious note, having NPC helpers and some automation is a fresh twist on the genre that Overcooked built.

Necromancy aside, Bone’s Cafe has you really digging in to not just the layout, but the format of your restaurant. You can customize where kitchen elements and service is, as well as the menu, letting you decide the concept or theme, from pub fare to fancy eating. You can also buy specialized tools and equipment that let you change how quickly certain dishes can be made, or set up a more efficient skeleton-powered chicken frying system.

Bone’s Cafe has both a campaign mode and a challenge mode. You can play it with 1-4 players in local couch co-op, and you can use Steam’s still-amazing Remote Play Together to allow just as many people to play over the internet using just a single copy. That’s nice, isn’t it? Lets one player focus on murdering customers while the other manages the kitchen.

Bone’s Cafe is available on Steam for $15, and you can also find a free demo there. It’s self-published by developer Acute Owl Studio. 

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