Out of curiosity alone, I recently purchased Cooking Mama Cookstar. The controversy surrounding it made me interested to see how the final product fared – it isn’t every day a big-name release is yanked from the eShop. Turns out it was harmless, if a little soulless. Now, another curious cooking game lies before us – and it’s a case of morbid curiosity this time, considering the violent themes.

Featuring a premise paying homage to Sweeney Todd, ergo the 2007 Tim Burton movie, Ravenous Devils is a relatively simple time-management game. The action takes place across a handful of screens and is controlled using a cursor interface – with one button taking care of most actions.

After acquiring a large multi-floored building in a bustling town, Percival and his wife Hildred open for business – and they’re about to make a killing. Motivated by greed, Percival sets up a tailor shop on the top floor while Hildred runs a small restaurant below, complete with a grime-coated basement kitchen.

Percival’s trusty scissors are used for more than haberdashery, ready to be plunged into the neck of whoever dares enter his backroom. Fresh corpses are then sent down a hatch to the basement, ready for Hildred to cook up into pies, steaks, sausages, and other fatty treats for the ravenous townsfolk.

Their business runs like a well-oiled machine, and nothing is wasted. Not even the clothes off the victim’s back, which Percival is able to use to create something new. It’s your job to keep this ‘machine’ ticking over by assigning tasks, keeping counters well-stocked, and choosing which upgrades to invest in. It’s vital to pay attention to Percival’s tailor shop, in particular, as there’s only a small window to ‘deal with’ a customer – miss this opportunity, and you risk running out of meat. Disgruntled customers will impact your reputation, leading to less money at the end of the day.

Upgrades introduce more to interact with, including a greenhouse that produces vegetables. This allows for more elaborate and lucrative meal types, provided by a recipe guide. The most significant upgrades come in the form of restaurant tables, adding a touch of Overcooked to the proceedings – customers will demand certain meals and expect them in good time. If your hands are tied, a complimentary bottle of gin will raise their spirits.  

Time-management games tend to be quite chaotic, forcing you to juggle numerous actions at once. Ravenous Devils is the exception, being quite laidback – the only punishment for poor performance is the sight of a customer storming out the shop. Hot meals can be kept in the oven or left on the sideboard without fear of them burning or spoiling, and there’s an infinite amount of downtime before opening which can be used to replenish stock and tend to the greenhouse.

Adding to the relaxed vibe, the focus isn’t on meeting targets and completing objectives. Instead, it’s the story that propels the game along. Cut-scenes occur every few days, with the conclusion taking around 3-4 hours to reach – although you can continue playing after.

This easy-going nature makes for an instantly gratifying experience that never frustrates. It’s a decent entry point to the genre, but those hoping to play hot potato and juggle numerous actions at once, pushing their time management skills, will likely find the lack of challenge disappointing.

But considering the mere £4 (approx.) price tag, the presentation is for the most part impressive. Zoom the camera in and you’ll notice some intricate detail within the backdrops, and while the character animation is a little wooden, characters still move seamlessly from one activity to the next. There’s quite a bit of humour present too, including some daft achievements and an unexpected movie reference.

Bearing in mind that most games within this price point tend to be simple pixel-art platformers and arcade-style shooters, this is a surprisingly accomplished budget buy.

Bad Vices Games’ Ravenous Devils is out now on Xbox One, PS4, Steam, and Switch.  

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