What games did you play with your family over Christmas? Charades? Monopoly? Maybe even it’s Quiz Time? I went to my parents and we played all of the above plus one more which took centre stage for a few reasons, VR the Diner Duo from Whirlybird Games. In the past, I have enjoyed playing Overcooked with my family and friends and I recently enjoyed playing Dead Hungry on my PSVR headset in single-player – At the time I thought to myself “I wish I could play this in multiplayer or co-op”. Lo and behold, the game already existed yet I wasn’t aware of it as we received it on PSVR a year after the PC got their greasy little mitts on it. So, lets put on our aprons and see if this game is a ‘Masterchef’ or a ‘Kitchen Nightmare’…
As you can most likely conceive from the title of the game, you are working in a diner and there are two characters. You can either play the game with two human players with one donning the VR headset and the other using the social screen or alternatively, you can play the game on your own but only within VR as the (head) chef. The game starts off nice and easy with a small number of customers as well as a small menu of items to serve; however, over time your menu gets bigger, your customers more aggressive and fussy, and things start to get quite manic in your small-town diner. The aim of the game is to co-operate with your partner (the waiter) as you ensure the customers receive the correct food they order in a timely fashion. It’s a nice, simple premise but boy does it get quite chaotic!
**Pictures are taken from the games’ Press kit. In-game may look a little different but obviously better in VR mode**
If you have read my Dead Hungry review then the gameplay is very similar to this mode, albeit without any zombies! You don the PSVR headset and are stationed at a cooking station where you must create edible masterpieces for your paying customers. The differences between Dead Hungry and VR the Diner Duo is that you can’t just make whatever you want, you must stick to the menu and the requests. You have a placemat menu in front of you which shows you the different versions you can/will make for the customers; however, each customer can customise and alter the request – for example, a cheeseburger with no ketchup or a burger with meat and condiments placed in a specific order. In single-player, it isn’t that hard as you see an image of what the customer wants so you are just tasked with the objective to cook and build said food.
The game allows you to change your height and position, which is the key to success, as you will be using items from all around you – I strongly recommend you play this stood up, although it is possible to also play sat down. Unlike a few other cooking games, this one requires you to place a plate, each item in the correct order and then serve, whilst watching none of your food is burning and ensuring you prioritise the food so people don’t get up and leave because you are taking too long.
They say a chef is only as good as his kitchen and in VR the Diner Duo you have no excuse! You have a super fast grill for burgers, fish and mushrooms as well as an area to chop your vegetables for certain meals. Condiments such as ketchup and mustard are available, and easily dropped (luckily they re-spawn) and everything is all within easy reach without having to move about – although my mum looked like a headless chicken when she was playing in VR as she was moving all over the place!
Just like in games such as Diner Dash on iOS, if you take too long or deliver the wrong orders, the customers will get fed up and either pay you less or simply walk out and refuse to pay for anything. So you really need to juggle things around to ensure everyone is happy and if someone is about to walk out and you can’t push the order then treat them as a lost cause and quickly concentrate on the next customer. If only the customers had the patience of a customer of Hell’s Kitchen, as they sometimes have to wait over 45 minutes for their entrée, but alas in this game you have about 30-60 seconds before they get fed up!
In single-player, the main thing to concentrate on is visually seeing what people want and re-creating it – now this isn’t technically true in the…
Boy, do I love the co-op within this game!?! This game does something that only a few games do at the moment yet a lot more should support it as it’s a great feature – it offers a different view on the Social screen when playing in co-op. So, what do I mean by that? Basically, in co-op, the person in VR will play the chef and the mechanics will be the same as above but the person with the controller and isn’t in VR will take control of the waiter! So, on the TV there is a different perspective which shows a 3rd person view of the waiter as the second player goes and takes the orders from the customers. This is a great mode and allows the game to also change another mechanic which you will either love or hate.
The main difference between the CPU controlling the waiter and a human is the order taking. In single-player mode, the chef can see the order and can build the burgers based on that – that would be too easy for co-op and make the second player redundant. So, the devs have decided that in a co-op game, the key to success is communication. The non-VR player can see the orders but the VR person can’t so the non-VR player has to shout out to the chef (in real life) what orders the people want and describe the order of the layout and any customisations like no ketchup etc… This is awesome and so much fun as the VR player can only build what he is being told too and if the diner is full of people it gets really easy to get all confused which leads to hilarious moments where the chef breaks down and ends up just throwing food at you (or it did in my case when my mum couldn’t handle it!).
I have not tried it, but I imagine if one person is on PSVR in their house and another player joins via ‘screen share’ then they will also be able to play the co-op aspect of the game as it’s local co-op only, no online version which is a shame. I can see why they did it as it makes it a lot more fun – but the option would have been nice.
The game also has a Bakery update where you will be serving cakes to the customers instead of burgers. The gameplay is the same but the various ‘food’ types you will be serving are different to match the new theme
Visually, the game looks great in VR. It isn’t the most detailed game and it doesn’t provide realistic graphics like Raw Data but that’s not what this game is about – like come on, you are a floating head (hence the ‘head’ chef) and your waiter is a floating robot who serves burgers to other robots in a diner! It’s bright, colourful and charming with VR that works perfectly with no issues and a nice looking second screen which also provides a lot of charm to the game. The menu also works really well as it’s one you reach out and grab via the VR player and I never had any issues with the detection of the Move controllers.
The sound is also very fitting. Just like similar games, you have a cassette deck in which you can swap out various cassettes to change the music (not sure who came up with this first but I’ve noticed it in a few games so far) and the audio is rightfully alternated between ears. For example, if you have meat cooking on your left and you are building a burger to the front, you will hear the meat burning to your left (if you leave it on too long). There is also a bell on the desk so the chef can tell the waiter to pick up the food, but it isn’t really used in co-op – however, in single-player, it does get the waiter to come over and pick up any food before taking more orders.
Both myself and my mother loved VR the Diner Duo for its simplicity, easy to get to grips with mechanics, longevity and fun factor. It has over 50 levels of increasing difficulty single-player and co-op missions which will keep you busy for hours, especially if you aim to satisfy all of your customers. It’s a very good price point for the amount of content you get and it also offers a great experience to both a VR player and someone else who is watching on. You no longer have to play games on your own if you wish to play a VR game with your friends around! I would have liked an online aspect, but overall I highly recommend it for anyone’s PSVR collection.
VR The Diner Duo£11.99
- - Addictive gameplay (in both VR and TV mode)
- - Easy mechanics to learn
- - Co-op is a great use of the social screen
- - Hours of fun with all the levels and settings
- - Progressively gets harder allowing you to learn and progress at your own pace
- - Would have been nice if co-op was online as well
- - Levels can get repetitive as you are doing the same thing other than with different creations to make