Speaking from personal experience, it’s tough to be a barista. There’s the grueling pace, constant stream of incoming requests, pressing need to keep abreast of multiple orders and, of course, a never-ending cavalcade of irate customers to address. Oddly enough though, Yummy Drink Factory – which tasks you with manning the controls of a whimsical wonderland’s coffee shop serving counter – makes these tasks fun and enjoyable, if only for a short while.
The ironic twist here: You play a rude woman cursed by a witch to sling drinks to imaginary patrons like elves and dwarves until she’s learned humility and can escape a fairytale land. So while play itself bears vast similarities to dozens of competing time management titles, there’s at least an original setting and colorful array of cartoon visuals to content the average casual game fan.
Even more interestingly, you’re given some added replay-extending options in the form of custom-created drink recipes, which you can share with friends or import onto your desktop for added challenge.
Still, the action’s pretty much what veterans would expect, with little concession made towards innovation or expansion on the standard formula. A wholly mouse-driven outing (it’s actually possible to play one-handed, as those of us carrying newborns while doing so can attest), featured scenarios – spread across a token campaign map – simply require that you fill multiple incoming drink orders. The key to doing so: Clicking on various tasks such as grinding beans, brewing grounds, adding drink flavors and piling on garnishes in rapid succession.
Basically, shoppers show up with one or more requests in mind, displayed on handy notes, and you’ve got to fulfill them before the stars which represent buyer satisfaction levels dwindle.
One’s ultimate goal on every level, however, is to earn enough cash through filling individual needs, or completing gold-boosting combos (earned when several drinks are served in rapid sequence) to meet a predetermined minimum before time runs out. And while it’s simple to do so at first, as you make hot chocolates that simply require a mug and shot of steaming goodness, don’t be fooled. Later levels introduce greater challenge in the form of simultaneous patron arrivals and more complex recipes requiring cherries, whipped cream, warts, peppermint flavor, slug slime and stranger ingredients. Perform well enough, and you’ll even get tips in the form of colorful gems, which can be traded at a general store for shop-enhancing decorations.
Mind you, not everything’s peachy over the rainbow. The action can get extremely repetitive, challenge levels are lax enough that even intermediate-level players will quickly breeze through stages and there’s only so much fun to be milked from the base game mechanic.
Clever strategists will also find it possible to queue up base components for several drinks and stock up on raw materials during downtimes, letting you get ahead of the game (and therefore making things even easier) on occasion. But overall handling’s great, the general level of polish excellent and the variety of drink orders (36 in total, detailed in an interactive recipe book accessible at any time) robust enough to keep things engaging, at least for a little bit.
The highest compliment we can pay the title? With the limitations and drawbacks of current time management titles rapidly becoming more apparent with each passing release, Yummy Drink Factory nonetheless manages to remain somewhat quirky and memorable. Mind you, that’s no small feat in a category where new titles are literally released with every passing day.
Granted, you’ll want to demo the title before buying, to see if the theme and setup differ enough from current favorites enough to really amuse. We’re confident, however, that most aspiring mug-slingers will nonetheless find it a satisfying approach to the (wait for it) daily grind.