Delicious – Emily’s Tea Garden is proof that a casual game doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel to be a lot of fun. After all, we’ve seen this restaurant-themed time management game mechanic many times in the past, but here it’s pulled off very well for the most part.
As told in the brief introductory sequence, you play as Emily who wants to create her very own tea garden, but in order to raise enough money to do so she takes on work at various restaurants. (Yes, the name of the game insinuates you’re managing a tea garden, but that’s not the case until the end.)
Delicious: Emily’s Tea Garden might be considered a cross between Diner Dash and Cake Mania, because on one hand you’re serving customers and cleaning tables but on the flipside you’re also making specific dishes and drinks based on a customer’s request.
In the first restaurant, a barbeque joint, you’re cooking ribs (with one of two sauces), steak, chicken, chips and salsa (customers ask for red or green salsa), and so on. Part of the challenge is keeping an eye on the food when it’s on the grill: if you leave it too long, it burns, and you’ll have to start again as the customer waits, plus folks ask for their steak medium or well done, and you must cook it to their liking. Oddly, the next restaurant, a beach bar, doesn’t add this timing challenge, so the game actually gets easier.
Some foods need to be replaced when used for a while, such as making new ice cream flavors at the beach bar, by first clicking a fruit – such as strawberry, kiwi and pineapple – and then the ice cream maker.
When patrons stream in, they seat themselves at a table, counter (if solo) or decide to go with takeout. If you don’t make their dishes in a timely fashion they grow frustrated and leave. Assuming you give them what they asked for (shown with a speech bubble above their head), they’ll pay you when finished and leave to make room for new customers. The goal is to make a certain amount of money each day or else you’ll have to replay each of the 50 levels (10 per restaurant).
As you progress, you’ll get an entertainer to keep customers happy, a busboy to clean tables and a telephone (which you must answer) before placing a reservation card on a table for when they arrive. Oh, and if you hear a mouse squeak, look for one hiding in the restaurant and click it to win an extra 100 points towards your score.
If you play well, you’ll unlock a few things. One is decorations for your restaurant – including new tables, chairs, plants and artwork – but it doesn’t affect the game-play at all, therefore I stopped doing this after the first restaurant (why bother?).
Gamers will also unlock a harder Expert mode for each restaurant, so you can replay it at any time from the main menu (in this version, it’s game over if you get three customers angry). You’re also told you’ve unlocked new parts of your tea garden, like a pond, bushes, picket fence and stone pathway you’ll see in the fifth and final restaurant (your dream tea garden serving as the backdrop). Finally, you can also earn trophies for playing well, which you can also view from the main menu.
Delicious: Emily’s Tea Garden is a fun game with a lot of play, but aside from the previously mentioned issues there are a couple other minor ones, like no people of color, no voices in the game and a flaw in the way customers stand behind one another in line to pay instead of beside one another (this gets the person in the back frustrated since they can’t settle up their bill). Overall, though, this time management game is a tasty treat for casual players.