The way back home is lined with hungry customers
While summer might mean endless days of lounging in the sun for the more affluent among us, one pair of siblings, Katy and Bob, are learning the hard way that money doesn’t magically appear out of thin air. In Katy & Bob: Way Back Home, these spoiled young adults are tricked into taking a “relaxing vacation” that turns into more of a glorified work camp, as they’re stranded on a island where credit cards mean nothing, and must work for their money to get back home.
Katy & Bob: Way Back Home offers standard time management gameplay that’s incredibly similar to Diner Dash. You’ll be placed in charge of a tropical restaurant on the beach, serving cocktails and other refreshments, ice cream and more. A variety of customer types will flood the restaurant on each level, and combo points are earned by completing similar tasks in rapid succession without breaking the chain (serving five menus in a row will earn you more cash than serving two menus and then a dish, for instance).
Katy is placed in charge of the waitressing, while Bob makes cocktails at the bar, but you can upgrade both to become more proficient at their tasks. Katy, for instance, starts with a carrying capacity of two items, but that can be upgraded to three items as you start to earn money (interestingly, her character model never actually changes to “hold” these items).
Other upgrades include additional cocktail making stations, juice stations and more, with each giving you an increased level of productivity. Most upgrades are purchased with the cash you accumulate on each level, but you’ll also be able to use special golden coins to purchase Artifacts that have overarching changes on the gameplay, like increasing Katy’s walking speed or increasing customer patience. It’s just unfortunate that many of these items are locked to a specific level and not available from the start.
You’ll need all of the help you can get as the game progresses, as many of the standard customer types (surfers, scuba divers, lifeguards, etc.) are incredibly impatient, making racking up the aforementioned combo points and cash equally difficult if you’re not experienced with the genre. Luckily, you’ll be able to choose between two difficulty settings if you’re really having trouble meeting each stage’s monetary goal.
While most of the game works as designed, there are a few problems that crop us as your restaurant becomes increasingly full of cooking stations and gadgets. Once you’re given the ability to garnish drinks, you’ll need to make sure to only carry one item around at a time (obviously slowing your productivity a great deal), or else the garnish will accidentally be placed on the wrong item. Furthermore, when customers start ordering more than one item per person, you’ll have to serve these items in a specific order, regardless of what you might be carrying. For instance, if a customer wants an ice cream cone and a pink chilled cocktail with a lemon wedge, that’s a three-step process (make a pink cocktail – chill it in the freezer – garnish it) that must be completed before ever handing them their ice cream cone. If you accidentally pick up items in the wrong order, you’ll simply have to trash them and start again, wasting precious time in the process.
For all that can be said about the game working against you, these issues are mostly balanced by the multiple abilities to raise all of your customers’ patience levels before they bail entirely. One customer type will automatically refill all others’ patience levels when they leave, and you can set off fireworks after you’ve pleased enough patrons that will achieve the same end. Still, both of these require either luck or skill to achieve, so it’s not a perfect system.
For the most part, Katy & Bob: Way Back Home is an enjoyable time management game, but it doesn’t contain any elements that really make it stand apart from the countless other restaurant-themed games in the genre. Furthermore, the story makes little sense, as these two should be able to make it home after just one level, as you can easily walk away with over $3,500 in a matter of minutes (just how far away from home are they stranded anyway?). Still, the game contains dozens of levels that will take you at least a few hours to complete, so if you’re looking for a way to spend an afternoon, you could definitely do worse than this.