Played on: PC
Like its name, Enlight’s Restaurant Empire allows me to run a virtual restaurant. Like most simulation games, I can play in either the story mode or sandbox mode.
In the storyline mode, I am a novice chief named Armand Lebeof who is learning the ropes from his French uncle. The Uncle has decided to pass his restaurant to me if I can run the restaurant to his satisfaction. The town is Paris and the independent restaurateurs (of which I am one) is being squeezed out of business by franchise giants. I start with a small restaurant and will eventually branch out to other branches in the city – or even in other cities (Rome and Los Angeles). In sandbox mode, I can run a restaurant in any way I choose from a selection of restaurants in various cities (steakhouse in the USA, for example). Options in choices of restaurants are Seafood House, Italian Restaurant, French Cuisinade, Music Café, and the Steakhouse. Decors will differ according to each restaurant I choose to run.
Graphics-wise, this game is very similar to The Sims. In fact, the animation of the waiter clearing the dishes on the restaurant tables is similar to a Sim character doing likewise. Take note of the high requirements of this game because there may be a chance that your PC cannot run the game due to the stringiest image card requirements.
First, I must build a restaurant building. If I am playing in the storyline mode, the restaurant is already built and partially furnished. Furnishing is similar to that in The Sims, involving choosing of tables, chairs, and various decors that cost money. Wallpaper and floor tiling are available for the kitchen, the toilets, and the rest of the restaurant. A waiter, a chef, a captain (maitre’d), and a fellow to clean-up have to be hired. Additional recipes have to be “earned” by completing levels and taking part in cooking tournaments (available only in storyline mode).
On the bright side, this game looks cute. On the other hand, I find myself getting bored with the game easily, mostly because there is no option to speed up the game. The accelerated gameplay causes everything to skip a few frames of animation so everything looks weird on the monitor. The second fastest speed takes place at the rate of one second in real life being the same as one minute in the game. Which is to say, a day in the game is a long time to play. Gameplay is on the tedious, too-realistic side, which means once I have the restaurant set up, I have nothing to do but to try and placate customers annoyed with the staff while watching the characters on screen replaying the same animation again and again (walk in, sit, eat, stand up, repeat). I find myself thinking that it will be interesting if I am allowed to create my own weird recipes but this game has no such flexibility. Everything is determined, straight down to its algorithm which becomes very predictable after a while.
Restaurant Empire looks nice (although the characters all have strange constipated expressions) but when it comes to gameplay, this one isn’t going to win itself a kingdom anytime soon.