The Other 'Mystery' Meat
Cooking simulators are an interesting genre for video games as they range in various types. You, of course, have Cooking Mama, which lets the player make a dish through a variety of mini-games. There are also games like Overcooked which has a multiplayer focus and Sushi Striker, which bends it to a different genre altogether. Then there's Ravenous Devils, a game that takes simple gameplay mechanics but flips them on its head in a macabre twist. From the moment the player starts the game, they are playing the role of the villain. While the two protagonists are obviously evil, being evil never tasted so good.
Ravenous Devils places the player in control of Percival and Hildred, a couple who runs a tailor shop and a pub that shares a dark secret. The couple fled town and set up shop in a new town with the intention of starting a new life. Hildred is a famous chef known for creating delicious savory dishes. Percival is an esteemed tailor, designing outfits that rival designer brand clothing. The catch? Hildred's food is actually 100% Not-USDA Certified Human Meat. Percival's custom couture is the result of many victims' torture, stealing their corpses' clothing, and sewing them into something unique.
Dishes So Good They Put Their Foot In It...Literally
The game is a business management simulator where players will need to keep track of two different facilities as they correlate to each other. The tailor, as mentioned, is the main source of "meat" for the pub as Percival kills the customers in a private fitting room. Clicking on the corpse will cause Percival to rip their clothing, which can be used as scrap to sew new articles of clothing. Those articles are then added to the mannequins in the storefront which adds to sales. The corpse is then thrown down a chute, which Hildred over from this point. This is, of course, not before cleaning the blood-drenched evidence on the floor with a mop.
Carrying the corpse, Hildred can turn the body into ground meat. Later on, other options are available for purchase as upgrades including sausages and steaks. After the meat is processed, she prepares the plate in which she can add flour if she chooses, and sets the plate in the oven. Once prepared, she'll serve the food to the customers who enter the pub. At first, the player can only create a "meat pie" and a "hamburger," but as the player upgrades the facilities, more creative dishes can be created.
Micromanaging Starts Simple At First But Gets Hectic Quick
In the beginning, the pub is the most important asset of Ravenous Devils as there will be more of a customer turnout than the tailor. The tailor, in turn, is the most important source as without Percival killing the customers, there will be a limited supply of meat. At some point, the player will need to upgrade the number of mannequins on display to attract more fodder to the slaughter---I mean loyal customers. Players can gauge how well they're doing by seeing the general reaction. Customers can leave positive, neutral, or negative reviews and the higher the reputation, the more the player attracts special customers.
Shortly after the first few days, the couple will receive a letter from an overzealous fan known as "J." J is a connoisseur of the human delicacy as well as having a grudge against several people in town. He asks the couple to slay the targets issued to them while preserving their corpse for J to feast upon. The first target is introduced shortly after and he's not likable in any sense of the word. This is the beauty of Ravenous Devils's story-telling. Despite how vile the couple is, there are those far worse who get their "just desserts," pun intended.
An Extra Pair Of Hands Never Helped (As In Help, Not Hands As An App)
After the first target is dealt with, the reputation of the shop increases further as new elements are introduced. The couple can now set up tables as an alternative to simply having a "self-service" model. These tables have patrons request "fresh meals," in which the player must have on the ready. Failure to comply with their orders will cause the customer to grow impatient and they are less likely to stay and enjoy their meal. The "table serving" mechanic reminded me of the Hostess minigame from the Yakuza series, yet more fleshed out (no pun intended).
Eventually, it becomes a hassle to be both the chef and the server, so why not hire one? Players can hire a server after the first target and he does the work of tending to the customers. This means the player simply has to send the food upstairs rather than carry the food themselves. Other important upgrades include increasing the number of plates, ovens, and efficiency of food generation. Ordering "Gin" also helps in ensuring the customers are satisfied should they have to wait.
Ravenous Devils Is More Than A Horror-Laced Dark Comedy
What surprised me the most is how lore-intensive Ravenous Devils can get. Reading the mail that "J" sends you offers a bit of backstory surrounding the couple, what they were doing before moving into town, and the town itself. There are various regulars who each have their own story. Some seek death while others are arrogant. The town doesn't seem to be under the "terror" of Percival and Hildred, rather they are both two peas in the same pod.
While the sense of speed adds to the challenge, sometimes I wished that the couple moved faster when it came to performing actions. They have a bit of The Sims element going on were pressing an action too fast will cancel the current one. There is an invisible queue that takes place, for example, dumping a body down the chute while queuing to grab a piece of cloth can be done with minimal fuss. At one point my game glitched and I somehow found Hildred warping herself up a floor while holding a plate. I couldn't replicate it but it took me off guard.
Ravenous Devils, for the generous price tag of $5, is a fun title to sink one's teeth into. The gameplay is very "What you see is what you get" and it can get repetitive. The world-building that the game provides, as well as playing as a couple whose morale compass is shattered, makes this an enjoyable addicting treat. Just be mindful of the floating human eyeballs.
Ravenous Devils is currently available on Steam. This review was made possible thanks to Bad Vices Games.