As an enthusiastic fan of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares (heavily favoring the UK version!) I sometimes feel like I know what it takes to manage a restaurant and run a kitchen.

And then a game like Cooking Dash 2016 comes along and shatters that dream harsher than a classic Ramsay put-down.

Coking Dash 2016 reminded me that I’m just a couch chef, and whatever part of my brain controls multitasking is woefully unprepared to cook the orders for just 3 customers (at a time). Granted, in Cooking Dash 2016, I’m just one person and a prep cook, so it is really easy to get backed up — unless I’m willing to pay upfront.

Cooking Dash 2016 review

Let’s get the vegetables out of the way first, before we get into the dessert: Cooking Dash 2016 is more than happy to really give you a solid nudge towards making in-app purchases by artificially inflating the difficulty to make things particularly difficult for players who have not yet purchased upgrades. You may only have two frying stations open by default, so the game throws two customers back-to-back that require a total of four items breaded up and fried. You might get one of those customers their tray before they lose too much of their patience, but the other customer will be ready get up and leave by the time their plate arrives. Not to mention you have a third customer sitting there who may also need something fried up.

When you’re rated and awarded based on customer satisfaction, a few unhappy customers will really hold your score back.

While you can unlock kitchen upgrades by using the currency rewarded to you for successfully completing the levels, you won’t earn it at a rapid enough pace to keep up with the very steep difficulty spikes that occur. I’m not frustrated that the developers want/expect me to pay for their game, I’m just a bit annoyed as to the way they go about it. Give me things to enhance the game (cosmetic items, for example) but don’t make the game frustrating in order to try and tempt me to buy into making the game easier. That’s not cool.

Apart from that, though, Cooking Dash 2016 is a really great game. From what I can tell, it’s not incredibly different or revolutionary from the previous games in the series (Cooking Dash is a Diner Dash spinoff), but as someone completely new to both series, I found myself actively enjoying my experience in the game.

Cooking Dash 2016 review

Each dish you are asked to cook up is a like a little puzzle, and with three guests asking for three different types of dishes at once, playing Cooking Dash 2016 is akin to trying to solve three different puzzles at the same time. It can get hectic, but with a cool head and some fantastic time-management skills, you’ll go far in Cooking Dash 2016.

I really enjoyed how the game flowed. Guests sit, guests order, you task the prep cook to begin getting the order ready, bring guests their drinks, begin cooking the simple one-item order, then pick up the prepped food, set it in the fryer or the oven, bring guests coffee now that it’s finally warmed up, oops you left the one-item order in for too long and it burned, restart cooking it, take out the first of the bigger orders, realize you accidentally cooked chicken instead of shrimp, put the fries on the heating plate, toss out the chicken, prep some shrimp, make room for shrimp by taking out the second round of order’s already prepped food, go to bring the second cup of coffee out, realize you have no more hands to carry things, go to the trash to throw something away, one-item order is burning already, people are angry, people are leaving, where are you going NOOOO COME BAAAACK!!!!

Cooking Dash 2016 review

As you can see, things very rapidly roll out of hand in Cooking Dash 2016, but with crisp visuals, snappy and responsive gameplay mechanics, and even with a frustrating (almost) need for IAPs, the game hold up very well as a challenging and fun puzzle game.