By: | Oct 2nd 2012
Chefville, the Facebook game, where you can waste time preparing imaginary dishes instead of making them for yourself.
Another title from Zynga, Chefville, is the slightly more austere version of their game Cafe World. The characters are less wide-eyed, the restaurants are now defined eateries rather than refurbished cupcake shops and even the music is a jazz solo away from winning a talent contest.
The premise of ChefVille is similar to the game that was launched on Facebook before it, make food, sell food, enjoy the virtual profits of that food and use the money to make and sell more food.
You first choose your character's appearance, with ChefVille allowing you to decide hairstyles, eye colour and clothing, before getting into the game. The tutorial is guided by Chef Madeline, a character who is tasked with teaching you the basics of owning a restaurant, from preparing your first meal, finding your first ingredients and introducing you to your first ChefVille task.
Meals are easy to prepare in ChefVille, first you select the cooking station and a meal and see if you have correct ingredients for it. Once youve chosen to make the meal, the food has a set waiting time and the more advanced the food is, the longer it will take to cook. Each meal you make uses up ingredients and you need to get more to prepare more meals.
The very first ChefVille task that you play through is provided to you by Madeline's friend Ginger, a smiling hippy who just wants to know where the beef is. Ginger is set to help you gather more ingredients from more sources, allowing you to serve hungry fictional NPCs a larger range of food. Some food, as Madeline showed us in the tutorial, can be sourced from the garden of your restaurant, you scroll across the gamescreen to your patch of vegetables and get basic ingredients. Ginger brings you to a new store that provides bread, cheese, giving you your first taste ChefVille unlockables.
Your restaurant is surround by a variety of food sources, the first is the vegetable patch but there are more to be unlocked. A cheese cellar, a poultry butcher and a range of other food stands and stores are on offer but they require quests and friends. The store that Ginger's quest introduced you to, for example, required an initial unlock, you had to have completed certain tasks for the store to be available, it gifted you with bread and cheese and then, like the worst waiter in history, it yanked your plate of delicacies away and had you invite your friends to the game. Friends are required to staff the shops, after which, you can receive payouts of resources after a certain amount of time. You can pay with the game's premium currency, Chef Cash (which will cost you real money to buy), as not to annoy your friends with even more Facebook game requests.
Not all quests in ChefVille are quite as informative but they do provide you more ingredients and XP. XP is one of the many currencies and sees you levelling up but it doesn't mean much other than more bragging rights. The more valuable currencies are Chef Cash, and coins. Whenever customers buy a dish in your restaurant they pay and leave tips. These coins are important for quests as they can be spent on buying quest items such as decorations and new cooking stations for your restaurant stations. Energy is another currency in ChefVille, it's required to gather new ingredients from stores and vegetable plants but it takes time to refill and should be used sparingly. Hearts are a currency you get from visiting other friends and can be spent on items in the store, but they arent used as often as coins.
Visiting friends in ChefVille gets you more of these currencies. You can do several tasks for them and get coins, ingredients and hearts. The rewards for having ChefVille playing friends are few, but the game is in beta and one of the stores around the restaurant is called "Social Catering".
One feature that ChefVille has that isn't social but is quite useful is that it allows you to email recipes. The more you cook a meal, the higher your mastery level becomes. When you reach level two, you can send the recipe for the meal via email if you want to cook it for yourself. It's something that you wouldn't expect to see in a game, but it's a useful addition.
ChefVille is a well made game and it is enjoyable, but Zynga need to make it more fun. At current, the gameplay elements arent as fun as you would want and it has to change to keep players playing it on Facebook for longer. It's still in beta but the pre-release version of ChefVille gets an 8.