Indie Quickie: Chef Solitaire: USA

ChefSolitaireUSA_1

What is it and who made it? Build a nationwide restaurant empire in this latest solitaire card game from The Revills Games, makers of the also excellent Legends of Solitaire.

What platforms is it on and how much does it cost? It’s out now on PC for $4.99. I played the latest version that just came out on Steam last month, but it’s also previously been available on casual portals like Big Fish Games.

How much did we play? A little over three hours. Enough time to complete 80 hands of solitaire and establish restaurants in eight states across the USA.

Any technical concerns, hardware requirements, or other details you should know about? I haven’t encountered any reasons to call the waiter over and have the chef re-fire the dish.

ChefSolitaireUSA_2

Why should you play it?

    • Put Your Chef Hat On: Chef Solitaire: USA takes the standard, casual rules of the card sequencing game and sautés them to a tasty golden brown and delicious serving of solitaire. The objective is to set up a restaurant in each state, with each state consisting of 10 hands of solitaire that must be completed to the provided requirements, which are to earn up to three gold stars and match all of the cards marked by a chef hat. Clearing the board of all cards results in a perfect rating, but you can still advance with cards left on the board as long as the chef hat cards are cleared before the last card in the deck is drawn (otherwise you have to re-deal). This adds some strategy that can get you in trouble if you match cards to go for a clear board rather than focusing on just the chef hats. The game also features other thematic elements, including blocker cards that can only be cleared by finding a special utensil card buried in another stack elsewhere on the board (the tongs card grabs strips of sizzling bacon, the spatula flips off a fried egg, cleaning spray removes grease splatters, etc.), as well as a kitchen store where money earned from successful dinner services can be spent on special utensils and restaurant features for bonus effects during play. For example, buying a mixer shows how many cards are in the deck. Adding a menu board grants access to one wild card per service. The microwave reduces the combo starting point from six cards to five. And the onion goggles somehow work like x-ray vision and allow you to see through the top card of the deck before turning it over. The only foreseeable problem with the shop is an imbalance with the limited number of items compared to the vast number of levels. I’ve already unlocked nine of the twelve perks with 400 levels still to go. Before long there won’t be anything new to unlock or look forward to, and the currency will be devalued beyond saving up for certain money-based achievements. Not a huge deal, just something that could’ve been balanced out a little better.

    • Mini-Game Sampler Platter: While going through the deck, occasionally you will draw a challenge card triggering one of a few different mini-games. Burger Run involves taking burger orders and quickly assembling the requested toppings in the correct order. Dessert Bar is a simple match-three puzzler in which you’re given a listed number of different confections to match. Kitchen Leak is a simple tube puzzler in which pieces need to be placed on a grid in order to connect the open ends on both sides to complete the piping and allow the water to flow through. These mini-games are very simple and appear completely at random, and they’re so quick that they effectively serve their purpose as fun opportunities to earn some bonus points without overstaying their welcome or distracting from the card play.

    • Extra Value Meal: This isn’t some fine dining take on solitaire in which you spend a fortune for a dish that is finished in two bites. Chef Solitaire: USA serves up enough content to satisfy one helping and then fill up multiple doggie bags. The main story mode consists of 480 services (i.e. hands) and the only reason it’s not 500 is because the game’s world map only includes the lower 48 continental states and not Alaska or Hawaii. If my math is correct, that should extrapolate out to upwards of a couple dozen hours. The game also includes a freeplay mode for endless replay of Tri Peaks and Five Peaks solitaire variants. All of that for five bucks is a way better value than any dollar menu. Eat that, Mickey D’s!

Parting Thoughts: If nothing else, The Revills Games certainly proves its range when it comes to solitaire themes, going from the epic medieval fantasy setting of Legends of Solitaire to the more charming and colorfully presented Chef Solitaire: USA. At this point, solitaire is solitaire is solitaire, and there’s only so much variation that can be applied to the universally recognized card game. Chef Solitaire: USA does enough interesting things with the restaurant and cooking-themed elements to make for a refreshing casual solitaire experience that you’ll be snacking on for a long time to come.

What is Indie Quickie? It takes a lot longer to fully review a game than it does to get a good sense of what a game is. Even with a full-time staff of writers it would be impossible to fully review the thousands of games that are released every year. Indie Quickie is our way to offer snap impressions of the countless indie titles small teams and one-man game studios are releasing literally every single day, and to help guide players to worthwhile games they may not have heard about before.

Disclosure: A Steam review key for Chef Solitaire: USA was provided to VGBlogger.com by the game’s publisher.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!