Review: Feasting on the foodie feedback loop in Marenian Tavern Story
There are certain sorts of games that are compelling and enjoyable because of the patterns they provide. Players fall into a routine that is fulfilling because each time we go through this activity loop, we make a little more progress and grow a little bit stronger. Marenian Tavern Story: Patty and the Hungry God is a game that lives and dies by its virtual way of life. Players participate in certain actions, see their world expand, then have an opportunity to keep doing so and growing stronger.
Marenian Tavern Story chronicles the rise, fall, then eventual rise of a once wealthy family. Patty and her little brother Gino come from a family of foodies, as their father is known for his restaurant and skills. Patty is even starting to make a name for herself too! Which works out well, as the story begins with Gino inadvertently knocking down a shrine that sealed the God of Poverty, Coco. When he gave Coco a cookie, he accidentally made a pact that threw the family into ruin. While the kids lost their home and their father ran off to search for new ingredients, there is still hope. If Coco is well-fed and the siblings can turn an abandoned tavern into a prosperous one, the contract can be nullified, Coco can be sent away and the family can become a success again.
People might feel deja vu when going through Marenian Tavern Story, as this is the successor to Rideon’s Adventure Bar Story.
People might feel deja vu when going through Marenian Tavern Story, as this is the successor to Rideon’s Adventure Bar Story. You are going through field and dungeon areas to collect ingredients and fight monsters (who will drop even more ingredients). Once you head back to town, you can use cash you have acquired to get more cooking supplies and visit your farming plot of land to get crops or animal by-products. After you are all stocked up, you can head into your shop to make food either by using preset recipes or free-styling in the hopes you create something people could actually eat. With food in hand, you can stuff Coco’s stomach, create the menu and open the tavern. If you manage to satisfy Coco, make enough money and see enough cutscenes, you can unlock new places that let you go through all of this again.
Marenian Tavern Story can sometimes feel like an installment in the Atelier series. After all, you are spending the bulk of your time searching for ingredients to make better final products and gain fame. Though, at times, I felt like it was almost an easier and more accommodating example of this sort of RPG and management simulation. The turn-based battles aren’t too taxing. You start out with three party members, but recruit more, and can alter your formation to make them stronger. You increase their levels by feeding them food, which means you can have a powerful party without level-grinding. It is very easy to find food and the pacing is handled well, which means you can quickly find yourself getting the tavern up to rank two without much effort.
The transition from mobile to full game is handled well too. Marenian Tavern Story originally appeared on Android and iOS devices in Japan. If you fall in a fight, you can use one of the many jewels you acquire from ordinary fights to completely revive everyone and restore them to full health immediately. I ended up accumulating over 110 of these before I even reached a rank two tavern. There is also a trophy system that rewards you for performing certain actions, giving you free items and equipment. Even Coco gives you rewards for feeding him.
I think the tavern management segment is where Marenian Tavern Story really stands out. With the battles, it is pretty easy to reach a point where you can hit auto-attack and turn up the in-battle speed to quickly acquire items. (Pausing to steal is the only reason to not zip through everything.) But with the restaurant, you have to take the season into account to determine if hot or cold dishes should be served. You need to determine which items should be used for experience or put up for sale. A checklist might be needed, to make sure you are getting items for the products that are most popular. Experimenting to find dishes that boost popularity and go well together is important. You also want to make sure you cook items for Coco that meet his current desire. (For example, he initially wants fried foods, before you reach rank two.) It can be rather complex, which I enjoyed.
Things can be rather bland, which is disappointing considering the premise is pleasant enough and the gameplay can be very compelling.
The only area in which Marenian Tavern Story falters is the translation. There are times when things are awkwardly phrased. It is not terrible. You can understand everything that is being said in the game. The spelling is fine and the grammar is usually pretty good. It is just that things are very straightforward. Things can be rather bland, which is disappointing considering the premise is pleasant enough and the gameplay can be very compelling. I suppose I wish it had a bit more personality to it. Not that it needs to be all that exciting. The idea of getting ingredients, making great dishes, getting enough appropriate ones enough to boost business, then going through it all again in the hopes of unlocking more is reason enough to keep playing.
Marenian Tavern Story: Patty and the Hungry God is one of those games in which I would sit and play for an hour or two, appreciating how many recipes I could make or what new location or character I had unlocked after that session. Preparing my menu and learning where to acquire items for dishes made me think, while the battling was more of a means to an end due to characters growing through meals instead of grinding. It is a soothing sort of game where you see yourself succeed in every play session, which people might appreciate.
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