Emily is back in the restaurant biz, and this time she brought someone special to the table: her younger self! Delicious Emily’s Message in a Bottle tells a heart warming tale that begins in Emily’s childhood and continues to her adult years, all while sticking close to the series’ enjoyable time management gameplay. Plenty of levels and plenty of challenge, exactly the kind of top notch casual fun you expect from Emily.

Delicious Emily’s Message in a Bottle takes place in different restaurants at different times, but the basics are always¬†the same. Customers stroll in and take a seat. They spend a few minutes looking at a menu, then decide on a meal, at which point Emily hops to it. Depending on the type of customer, your job might be as simple as grabbing a hunk of bread or as intricate as making a sandwich from scratch. Click fast and bring the order to the table, clean up the dishes, take their cash and get ready for the next hungry customer.

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After each level you’ll get a chance to spend some of that hard earned money on upgrades to your restaurant. Buy better equipment to help Emily gain a little speed, or upgrade tables and chairs so customers stay patient. The longer they wait, the less happy they become, and everybody knows unhappy customers aren’t the best tippers. Playing neatly into this mechanic is the menu builder that lets you unlock pricier food options that deliver bigger tips. Tweak things to your liking, then let the meals commence.

Variety is finely tuned in Delicious Emily, handing out just enough surprise to make each stage something special. The “find the mouse” mini-game is back, offering up extra points if you can locate the little squeaker when he pops his head out. There are also level specific quests you can watch for, things like finding unique ingredients scattered around the screen, receiving packages, or even clicking on little Emily as she plays hide and seek.

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As is always the case with a Delicious Emily game, story takes center stage throughout the experience. Cutscenes happen before and after each level, filling you in on all the characters, their thoughts, plans and feelings. It sets a wonderful backdrop for Emily’s modern life and spins a tale that’s both touching and intriguing. There are some serious warm and fuzzies in Message in a Bottle, so much so that you’ll almost want to speed through the stages just so you can see what happens next.

Delicious Emily’s Message in a Bottle is pretty much standard fare as far as the Delicious series is concerned. The gameplay is solid, the mechanics simple but rewarding, and the dual focus on storytelling and entertainment is the perfect mix to keep you hooked. You won’t find anything radically different from other Delicious games, but sometimes you don’t need an innovative spin on a classic idea. If it works, it works — and Delicious Emily always works!