Meat is murder, eat the rich
Sometimes my curiosity gets the better of me. Even if I see something I don’t believe will actually work, I just can’t help but take a peek at the result. Godlike Burger is exactly that. A mix of Overcooked and Hitman, it was pitched. I checked; it’s not multi-player. Okay, I’ll bite.
It also makes sense that I’d move onto it after Cat Cafe Manager hastened my descent into madness. It’s a game about serving customers. By that, I mean you murder customers, turn them into hamburgers, and serve them to other customers. It’s too perfect. It’s sustainable cuisine. But can it satisfy my bloodlust?
Godlike Burger (PC)
Developer: Liquid Pug
Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
Released: April 21, 2022
I don’t know if you’re supposed to be a working-class hero, a victim of a higher power, or just a murderous chef — that might be for you to decide. You’ve got work to do. You need to make money, grow your prestige, and upgrade your apparatus.
You’re on a floating diner, traveling from planet to planet. Your goal is to complete a list of challenges, and that’s where everything goes wrong, but let’s zoom in before we get to that.
Customers come in, place their orders, and you have to feed them. Actually, you don’t. Forget about them being customers; they can offer you three things: money, prestige, and meat. You can forgo any of them, but can’t earn all three. For example, if you want to murder a customer right when they come through the door, you can just follow them to a quiet spot and hack them to pieces. You can wait until they pay you to chop them into mulch. The only way you’re getting prestige, however, is if you let them leave with their lives.
There are ways to decide what to focus on. Money is used to upgrade your chef and kitchen, but you can’t buy meat. If you want to stay in business, you need a supply, which means murder. Random events happen that have effects on your stats. Critics will show up, and pleasing them (and letting them live) gives you extra prestige. Sometimes aliens will try to rob you, but it doubles the cash you make, so it’s a good time to just serve customers without needing to worry about slaying them.
Cooking food is easy. You grill a patty, slap together the ingredients on a bun, then serve. It’s involving enough without being overly complicated. Burning the meat is essentially your biggest concern, as well as whether or not you have the customer’s preferred toppings.
Murder is equally simple. Make sure no one’s watching and slap them with your cleaver. Then teleport the body to the meat grinder and wash the blood off. Oh, and make sure no one saw you. You can also build and upgrade traps, and at their most useful, they’ll both kill a target and dispose of it without you needing to get your hands dirty.
The whole gameplay loop of Godlike Burger is pretty enjoyable. There’s a satisfying element of vindictiveness that ties into the gameplay. If a burger is a bust with a customer, you can always mulch them before they leave to post a one-star review on your Google page. If they don’t leave a tip, aren’t they just asking for the sweet touch of your butcher knife? It really appeals to the… “problem-solver” in me.
But while the gameplay loop is fantastic, the metagame is where Godlike Burger falls apart like an overloaded sandwich. There are three things you need to proceed to a new planet: money, prestige, and the completion of the previous planet’s challenges. But buckle up, because there are a lot of issues to cover.
The challenges are complete butt. Some are obvious, like “kill so many customers in a day.” Others are reasonable; “kill all the visiting members of X species.” Then it gets ridiculous like, “kill three debt collectors with one trap.” It’s really difficult to kill multiple targets with one trap, to begin with. But to get debt collectors to show up, you need to be in debt, which takes days. So, if that task comes up, you might be stuck on a single planet for days. Each day is north of five minutes, which really starts to add up when you aren’t making progress.
However — and I find this absolutely mystifying — you can accomplish any planet’s goals on any other planet. So, you can spend as much time as you want on the easiest planet in the system, grinding to complete as many challenges as you can before proceeding. The only thing stopping you from completing the entire game on a single world is species-specific challenges since certain aliens only show up on certain planets.
Finally, the challenges are random, and they don’t care how much progress you have made. There’s a chance that you could wind up with a task that requires you to have an upgrade that you haven’t bought yet. It’s ridiculous, and it grinds the whole experience to a halt. When you die, you start over. You keep all your upgrades, and it isn’t difficult to make progress each time you play, but best of luck getting to the end without getting screwed over.
I believe Godlike Burger’s biggest problems are fixable, but it will require developer Liquid Pug to take a hard look at the progression. Maybe more reasonable challenges that ramp up in difficulty would be enough. Maybe not making the challenges random, but the planets instead, each with their own fixed tasks, would make the whole game a little less bullshitty.
It hurts that the gameplay loop is so enjoyable, but falls apart when it comes to progression. The whole product has a fun aesthetic, a sense of humor that avoids the pitfall of being too mean-spirited, and an impressive soundtrack. Godlike Burger works better than it has any right to be, but lets itself down when it comes to tying everything together. It’s like having a perfectly good burger that someone has topped with grilled pineapple; it doesn’t matter how good the meat is, you completely ruined it with your horrible life choices!
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]