Lyn Reviews: Hunt Cook: Catch and Serve! (Progress Review)

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Developer/Publisher: Select Button inc.
Platform(s): Android, iOS
Price: Free, with IAP
Discovery: Google Play store
Playtime: Approx. 5 hours

Telling my friends that I’m playing a game with four verbs in the title sound pretty weird. But that aside, this cute game is actually quite fun. Hunt Cook: Catch and Serve is a psuedo-restaurant/cooking game in that you don’t really hunt down animals, nor do you really run a restaurant. It’s more so based on mini games and a bit of time management.

You are a young hunter who now works at “Café HuntCook” whose boss is non other than a talking Shiba Inu who nobody seems to question (actually, all of the animals seem to talk in this game). Your job is to scour the nearby woodlands to hunt wild game and serve tasty, semi-exotic dishes!

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We got a talkin’ dog and a Kid Chef who only speaks in emotes.

To hunt an animal, you go to their location and have a set chance at finding them. You then have a choice at either a short, yet guaranteed hunt for some meat, or a full hunt for more meat at the cost of having to pass a mini-game. To be honest, I have no idea how the short hunt goes because I’ve chosen full hunt each time and it’s pretty easy.

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The mini-game is akin to those Don’t Tap games where you have to choose the right lane and not run into obstacles. All you have to do is catch up to the animal – you don’t even have to be on top of them, just in the same lane.

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In the case of not finding an animal, you can encounter either the nice Old Man Veggie, who gives you ingredients and often “Red Cow” to restore your hunt points (so you can keep onnn huntin’) or Rocco, the definitely-not-a-mobster-up-to-shady-stuff who likes to quiz you a lot on hunting trivia. Answer Rocco’s questions right (you really can’t fail) and he’ll award you an exclusive dish for the first encounter or more ingredients thereafter.

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What’s that shovel for, Rocco? Burying bod- Digging for treasure?

The next part of the game is now taking the meat along with other ingredients, and cooking dishes with them. You have your main request, which is like the story mode to the game, and side requests that you can fulfill to earn more EXP and money on the side. There really is no cooking process to it; just make sure you have the right ingredients, choose the dish, and wait for it to cook.

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As you level up and complete main requests, you’ll unlock more ingredients, dishes, and hunting equipment so you can hunt more types of game. The Boss will also assign you Missions that usually require you completing a main request or cooking certain dishes. Completing them will upgrade the restaurant and unlock more features (mini-games) for you to bide your time as you wait for Hunt Points to refill.

The Good

+ Cute art style. Like, no joke. It’s so cute. A very charming and heart-warming game, despite the fact that you’re like a kid going around hunting bears and crocodiles (later on). 😛

+ Simple yet fun. To be honest, this game boils down to a bunch of tapping and pressing buttons. Yet I’m not bored of it at all. It’s definitely meant to be a game that you check in every few hours and spend less than an hour playing.

+ Highly educational. I’m pretty sure this is meant to be a kid’s game, or at least very family friendly. The game gives you a lot of opportunities to learn a lot: about hunting, about the animals, about the dishes you cook, etc.

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The Bad

– Slow progression. The first couple levels in the game were brutal, because there really wasn’t much to do. It also doesn’t help that Hunt Points take an entire HOUR each to refill, and you are capped at 3 max, no matter what. You can, however, stock up on Red Cow, and you do get them pretty often. I’m also at the point where the stuff needed to pass my mission doesn’t unlock until wayyyy later, and leveling is pretty slow.

Another thing; in the shops you can buy ingredients if you really need more quick, but for whatever reason some of them don’t unlock until way later. I guess the supermarket is meant to be a last resort if you can’t get ingredients normally.

– Way too many ads. There were so many ads that I payed $2.99 or whatever the minimum amount was to get rid of them. But guess what? They don’t go away! The game has implemented watching ads as a way to insta-cook your dish, or to earn gems/golden bones so you’ll end up watching commercials anyway. (You do have an option to turn them off, but lose their opportunities, which imo is too much to pass up.) Anyone that cannot afford to pay will probably give up with how many ads are blasted in the game.

Note, I actually don’t mind watching ads that much, especially because I’m willing and choosing to. The problem I have is that it’s the SAME ADS OVER AND OVER AGAIN. /rant

– You need gems for everything. Finish dish faster? Gems. Need more stove tops to cook stuff? GEMS. Limited pantry space? Gemmmsss.

– Share button is everywhere. You can share like 80% of all the moments in this game, from leveling up, to catching an animal, to finishing a dish. It’s a minor issue but kind of annoying to see that share button so often. Also, the only way to play the U Pick mini game is to share a FB post or tweet. There’s no way around it either – you have to actually share a post. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Improvements

• Adding more features, such as being able to decorate your restaurant.  You have a restaurant, but never actually see the majority of it. Being able to decorate is such a staple in games like this that I was actually surprised it didn’t have it.

• Having an option to use up more than one Red Cow at a time. Like, if I wanted to use 5 Red Cows in a go, I shouldn’t have to be forced to use one, go on a hunt, and then use another again; yet that’s the only way to do it.

• Gold to gem conversion. I really doubt they’ll ever add this because $$$ but it’s always a nice feature to have. I can imagine hitting end game eventually and having more gold than you know what to do with…but also really need gems.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for the next Cooking Mama or Diner Dash, this game is…not it. However, it’s cute and engaging enough to stand on its own is definitely worth giving Hunt Cook a try. Thing is, the game is really designed in way in that you’re only supposed to spend a short about of time each play session and check up every couple hours or so – even if you wanted to play more. Best played as a “side game” and definitely for more casual players.

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RATING:

• Gameplay – 5/10 Hunt Cook has just about enough mini-games/stuff to do to make it enjoyable. However all the waiting, slow progression and other details I’ve mentioned make it difficult to enjoy at times. Like I actually want to play for longer but I can’t because how the game is designed. Nonetheless, still pretty fun.

• Story/Concept – 8/10 Talking animals, dangerous child labor, a suspicious yakuza member, and of course, sorta-weird, exotic dishes. Coming to theaters near you.

• Graphics/Art – 9/10 Like I said, it’s very cute. Even better is how much detail is put into the dishes themselves. They definitely look…tasty. Enough to convince me to try out raven stew? Er.. not that much.

• Audio/Sound/BGM – 6/10 Rocco’s theme is hilarious. I think the music and sound effects really play into making the game as enjoyable and zany as it is.

• Bang-for-your-buck3/10 Despite being free this game really, really pressures you into spending gems. They give enough for free to just barely string you along, but it can get annoying – especially coupled with all the ads.

FINAL SCORE: 6.2/10

Will I keep playing the game? Yeap.

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