When I was a kid, I was determined to become a chef. I grew up in kitchens learning to cook and bake. Some of my earliest memories are of kneading dough for my grandmother and helping my grandfather batter chicken. The Food Network played on my TV constantly. I even used to go to the library and spend hours reading cookbooks and autobiographies of famous chefs, daydreaming about when I’d be able to write my own.
A career as a chef never panned out for me, but my deep love for the culinary arts has never wavered. I think that’s what I like most about Cooking Simulator VR: Despite its wacky physics-based gameplay, it gave me just the tiniest taste of being in a proper kitchen again — straight from my Quest 2. It won’t help you become a five – old chef, but it will help you gain a basic understanding of cooking while providing a genuinely engaging gameplay loop.
Cooking Simulator VR: What I loved
Cooking Simulator VR is as pure in premise as its name suggests. It’s a simple concept, but the way you interact with the world makes it feel like more than just a novelty.
If you need to coat something in purified butter, you’ll have to unscrew the lid and be careful not to pour too fast. Knives need to be kept steady when cutting things into quarters or else you won’t wind up with remotely uniform pieces. Unsure if you mixed a sauce correctly? You’ll have to stick your hand in and get a taste to find out.
Most of my time in Cooking Simulator VR was spent in the game’s sandbox mode for this reason. Interacting with your kitchen is fun in the silliest way possible, and I liked not being constrained by a time limit.
I don’t know why flipping raw steaks is so satisfying, but the jiggle physics had me entranced. And yes, I did pick up a pair of tongs and pretend to be a crustacean chef, as any normal person would.
Sandbox mode also lets you make every recipe à la carte so you can go through the steps at your leisure. While I loved playing around in the kitchen and practicing recipes at my own pace, the game’s career mode is just as fun.
Your goal in career mode is to take your restaurant from the bottom to the top. Doing so means building up a reputation for serving quick, high-quality meals. That’s not nearly as easy as it might sound, and it doesn’t take long until it all becomes a hectic mad dash that tests your patience as much as your speed.
You have a set amount of time to prepare each dish a customer orders, and when recipes start to ramp up in complexity, it gets intense. Cooking a seasoned trout is one thing, but soon you’ll be bouncing between different workstations in your kitchen to try and manage boiling pots of sauces, hot ovens full of meat, and sizzling frying pans of vegetables all at once.
Once your cooking is done, it’s a matter of plating quickly and rushing to make sure it’s served before the timer is up. It’s nothing short of chaotic.
Career mode is stressful, but in a way that makes for an engaging gameplay loop. There’s a real sense of relief and satisfaction in making it through another day of customer orders with five-star ratings for each dish.
You’ll earn upgrades and perks throughout the career mode, like increasing the amount of tips you receive or being able to examine the quality of a dish before serving it. You can also unlock decorations to customize your kitchen to your liking.
For as fun as it is, career mode is ultimately simple, and having that sense of progression really helps to add some depth to the overall experience.
Cooking Simulator VR: What I didn’t
If I have one real criticism of Cooking Simulator VR, it’s that there’s a lack of community features, aside from the included leaderboards. Multiplayer would definitely be nice, but I don’t think that’s always as easy for developers to implement as some people might believe.
What I would really like to see, though, is some way to create custom recipes that you can share in a sort of player-made cookbook. Downloading dishes from the community to use in career mode would be fantastic. I love the idea of creating the most chaotic, needlessly complicated recipe imaginable and having another player’s day ruined because their own customers ordered it.
Cooking Simulator VR: Should you buy it?
Whether or not you’ll enjoy Cooking Simulator VR is dependent on what you’re expecting out of it. Don’t go in thinking it’s a hardcore cooking sim, because that’s definitely not the vibe; it’s more of a silly culinary playground. If you’re looking for a more guided experience than the freeform kitchen sandbox, I do think there’s a lot to enjoy in the career mode.
Cooking Simulator VR isn’t as easy to recommend as some of the other great games on the Quest 2, purely because it’s a bit niche. That said, I enjoyed it so much that it’s threatening to dethrone Little Cities as my favorite Quest 2 game of the year. Immersion is such an important part of a VR for me, and Cooking Simulator VR never took me out of its kitchen.