Please note: This game is not suitable for children or those who are easily disturbed. As someone who thrives off all that is unsettling, Cooking Companions made me feel extremely uncomfortable. Please take the time to look over the developer’s warnings before playing.
I remember the first time I played Doki Doki Literature Club; the visual novel messed me up in a way that I never thought was possible. During my hunt to find a similar experience, I found Cooking Companions. The graphics were bright, the warning was dark, just like DDLC. After playing, though, I felt bad comparing the two. Cooking Companions messed me up in its own special way — without the use of file manipulation and orchestrated glitches.
Welcome to the Tatras mountains, where the harvest is bountiful. You spend your days cooking delicious meals alongside the mischievous Chompettes. One night, a storm hits the cabin. Floods prevent you and your companions from foraging, and the food supply starts to dwindle. Hunger sets in, and everyone starts to lose hope. They look to you for help, but can you save them all from starvation?
“The writing is so good that the dreaded feeling of ‘something’s wrong’ builds even without the use of jumpscares and gore.”
Cooking Companions is a very successful horror visual novel. Sometimes, I find visual novels too slow for my liking. However, the pacing is brilliant. The writing is so good that the dreaded feeling of ‘something’s wrong’ builds even without the use of jumpscares and gore. Players get the option to deepen companion relationships, and in turn, are rewarded with deep backstories. There are different choices to make and plenty of goodies to unlock. Cooking Companions is a traditional visual novel, so don’t expect any scares outside the writing.
Regrettably, such concise writing makes for a short game. Beating Cooking Companions only takes about an hour and a half, while achievement hunting takes roughly four to five. Despite the multiple choices, there isn’t much replayability; text varies depending on certain answers, but the ending ultimately remains the same. Luckily, a handy function allows players to skip and rewind text, making full completion a little less tedious.
“The story is disturbing, amazing, yet sadly, very short.”
The graphics are consistently gorgeous throughout. Portrait art is clean and colourful, there’s a variety of emotions for each character, and the Chompettes are all adorable in a Danganronpa kind of way. I didn’t find the horror elements terrifying like the narrative. However, they’re still delightfully creepy. Lastly, the music and ambience are spot-on; a perfect balance of upbeat and down-trodden set the mood just right.
Overall, I found Cooking Companions to be a good horror visual novel. The story is disturbing, amazing, yet sadly, very short. There are multiple choices to make throughout the game, relationships to deepen, and things to find. The graphics are nice, and the ambience is superb. But unfortunately, CAD 17.49 feels too expensive for a game that only takes an hour and a half to beat. Wait for a Steam sale, read the disclaimers, and then play—if you feel like you can stomach it.
Cooking Companions is available on PC via Steam.