When I was contacted with the opportunity to check out Startenders, a game coming to genre that is quite populated in the VR market, I was interested to see what the game could bring to make it different.
The title of the game might giveaway the main idea of the game, with the mash-up of Star and Bartending – meaning in the game with you be Bartending in space. Where other games in the genre might mix-up making drinks and food, Startenders concentrates on the drink making side only. Where this might originally make you think, the game is going to lack a little, the team have done enough to keep it interesting.
This is done by including such a wide range of recipes for the drinks, and having to use a number of machines to prepare parts of them. But, it all starts with the need to clear every glass you going to need for the drinks. Then other machines will be used to chop ingredients, blend ingredients or freeze and heat up the glasses. You can only have one machine up on each side of the bar, meaning you will be switching between these machines to get the drinks made in time.
Which brings in the time element that is ever-present in this genre of game, meaning you will only get a set time to make the customers their drinks. So, time management becomes essential, as the drinks get more complicated and the customers becomes less patient. This can see you getting in mad rush, as you clean glasses and make sure everything is right and in each customers drink.
Where all of this is probably sounding similar to what is already on the market, there is some elements the team have thrown in what I like, these are;
- The need to upgrade your machines, to shave precious time off your serving
- The need to buy the additional ingredients and not just being given them as you progress
You need to buy the blueprints and ingredients using the tips you get throughout your shifts. Of course you will receive better tips for the time it takes to serve the customer and the accuracy of their drink. This means the games progression system is a bit more involved than just the ‘complete the shift, here is a new ingredient and upgrade’ – which makes the progression feel a bit more rewarding.
With having this early/first look at the game there is also some features I never got the chance to try, like pass the headset (social party mode) and having the once chance a day to get into the leaderboards – but this will offer more options for players on release.
Also outside of the Bartending, if you need a little break you can play a number of games within your ship. These are anti-gravity basketball, target darts and a reaction based game, or if you want to practice making recipes you can do that too outside of your shifts
From my first look at Startenders on the Meta Quest 2, I can see the game has solid mechanics for the drink making, and also has recipes that will keep you on your toes – especially when more than one customer is wanting a complex drink at a time. I have had a lot fun serving up drinks for the aliens visiting my spaceship bar, and can see the element of needing to buy new ingredients and needing to upgrade your equipment appealing to fans of the genre.