Saturday , 18 May 2024
Meta Quest GamesReviews

Startenders Review

When taking a first look at Stantenders I was impressed with what the game was offering. I have now had chance to play the full game and serve up a large number of drinks, so, does it hold it’s appeal I felt in the first look?

Story

The game surprisingly does come with a story, which is different for these sort games. The story sees you being beamed up to be a Startender in error, as they were meant to take someone from the planet Arth. Now, you need to just do the job of a Startender while creating a device to warp you back home, but, can you escape?

Gameplay

As you might be able to tell from the name Startender, you are taking on the role a of bartender in space, serving up drinks in a number of clubs in the galaxy. Where the game only involves drinks and not a mix of food and drinks, as you find in most games in this genre – the team at Foggy Box have made sure they bring in other elements to keep to fresh.

Firstly there is a load of ingredients and combinations of drinks that can be made. But, in order to get the more complex drinks, you will be using the money earned to buy new ingredients – yes, you don’t get paid as a Startender. Adding more and more ingredients introduces new cocktails to make and they get more and more complex. You know what each customer wants and the order they want it creating in by using the television above each of their heads – these will include the ingredients and the machines needed to make to the drink, and if they want them cold, hot or shaken.

But, this is not the only thing you will need to spend your earnings on, as the drinks get more complex you might need to save time on the drink making process. This introduces the need to upgrade the machines in your bar to make cleaning glasses, juicing and slicing fruits, and freezing or heating your drinks quicker. Each machine can be upgraded twice, and your fridge once, and these can become very important once you are moving through the campaign, getting more people at the bar and bringing in more ingredients.

With the final use of your money, being buying the parts needed to create the machine to help you escape. So, there is plenty of money needed to be made in order to get all ingredients, upgrade your machines and escape.

The next little touch is the need to build your upgraded machines and parts to escape. This is done by approaching the work bench, placing the parts on and welding them together, then once the frame is made, set the rest to print – adding a little more to the game. Then if you want a break from Startending, you can go into the lobby and play some mini-games like anti-gravity basketball and a reaction game.

Presentation

Visually the game takes a cartoon approach, and this allows for the game to look nice and clear, have colours that pop and allow it run on the stand-alone device – while being detailed and clear enough to give you that immersion.

Each alien type in the game has its own voice actor, and all of the voice acting is well done – but it does mean every alien in that race sounds the same, despite sometimes varying in appearance – but, this doesn’t take much away from the games experience. Most of the game you are accompanied by Riley, an AI that seems to praise you on your Startending skills, and every now and then a rouge-AI that takes over Riley that is helping you escape, both of these again are well voice acted and have some funny lines. Outside of this you have the general noises of being in a club and the hustle and bustle that comes with that.

Comfort/Controls

The game can be played seated or standing, and then you can move each station and the bar in the game to a height that is comfortable for you. With you serving at the bar as the main gameplay, the area is small, so you can just turn to get the glasses or ingredients around you without needing to move to each area. When in the ship between serving, this movement is done with set points you teleport to – so the game is comfortable for all players.

All that is needed for the controls is the grip buttons, as you will just be switching between your machines with a lever, grabbing glasses and all the types of ingredients, and then the A button to teleport between the points – again making the game easy and accessible to anyone.

Longevity

The campaign mode, buying all upgrades and parts took me around three-hours. Then you can return to the ship and complete more shifts in campaign mode, or use Free Mix mode to make up your own drink mixes, and these could then turn up when completing shifts. Then there is some multiplayer options in Daily Shift, that will see you competing to get the most tips with other players, or Pass The Headset mode, that gives you a local multiplayer option as well. So, even when completing the campaign you can keep the game fresh adding your own mixes or completing with others online or locally.

Reviewed using Meta Quest 2

For the purposes of transparency, this review was created using a review code provided by the company or their respective PR company. The use of a press code does not affect my judgement of the product.

Review Overview

Startenders enters a genre that does have a lot competition, but it brings little extras that make standout, despite only being based on making drinks. The touch of needing to upgrade your machines and a story-driven campaign mode, bringing with it a progression system, that is nice to see in a game like this. Adding to the this the solid mechanics in the place for making the drinks and the amount of ingredients keeps you entertained while saving up those funds. But, the drinks only approach could put off some players, who like the combination of food and drinks others in the genre offer. Another missed opportunity that seems to be popular in this genre is the co-op experience, having two people working together can bring good laughs and stressful moments. Despite these few issues, if you like these games, Startenders will keep you entertained and brings some extras that are fresh to the genre.

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