Running a business is a tough job. There are many things to do and so many pitfalls stand in your way. On top of this, you have disgruntled customers to appease and a constant stream of orders to get right. How about if you then add a ruined building to the mix? Well, this is exactly what happens in Lemon Cake. This cute game is hauntingly good and it’ll push you to your limits.

Developed by Cozy Bee Games and published by SOEDESCO, this is a business management title. What’s more, on the surface it appears a simple endeavour. However, once you look a little deeper, you soon realise it has some wonderfully challenging mechanics that’ll keep you on your toes. Sadly, though, this is only a solo experience. Consequently, you can’t run your business with friends, and I think this is a missed opportunity.

review lemon cake

Look after the animals and water the plants.

Lemon Cake is a cute business game. 

The words cute and business game rarely combine. Mostly, this genre is hardcore and time-consuming. Now, Lemon Cake is both of those things, but its story and protagonists are heartwarmingly cute. As such, you’ll lose yourself in this small but hectic world of cafe management and cake baking.

As the hero, you stumble into a dilapidated bakery. As the dust settles, you are faced with a ghost. Instead of running, you stay and listen to this spirit’s tale of woe. Accordingly, you feel equally inspired and sorry for the supernatural being, so you decide to help out. However, you didn’t realise how big the task would be. Unfortunately, every element of this bakery/cafe is ruined, and it’ll take time and money to put things right. Luckily, though, your customers are willing to help turn this business around.

Like a cake, this has many layers. 

At first glance, I thought this would be a straightforward affair. Instead, I soon discovered that the gameplay mechanics are a rich tapestry of minor elements. Consequently, you must balance cooking times, delivery speed, recipes, and cleaning if you wish to succeed. On top of this, there is a mustached ghost who is obsessed with bugs. He will visit you periodically and you’ll complete a small mini-game. This is probably the weakest portion of the game as it’s neither interesting nor is it challenging. Its only saving grace is that it lasts less than a minute.

This aside, the rest of the action is brilliant and has a strategic edge to it. Subsequently, if you are methodically minded, much of the action will appeal to you. Every day comprises the same routine. You prepare your shopfront, water your plants, clean your animals, and stoke your fires. Once you are ready, you open the doors and deal with every customer. However, things are rarely as simple as they seem, and Lemon Cake is no different. With limited seats and a few window displays, you must balance speed over profit as you try to appease everyone.

review lemon cake

What will you upgrade next?

Demanding customers. 

Like other cooking games, your customers have limited patience. As such, once they place their order, you must work quickly. In the kitchen, you’ll combine an array of ingredients from sugar, flour, milk, eggs, or fruit. These will then be mixed together and either cooked, frozen, or served as they are. Understandably, the easier the recipe, the quicker the turnaround. However, this impacts profit margin and slows down your progress. Accordingly, it is a fine balance between complex bakes and a simple sugary treat.

The cooking and serving of goods are great, but I enjoyed the business expansion mechanics more. As your character levels up, new recipes are unlocked. You may select between 3 options and these add variety to your menu. Furthermore, you must purchase new ovens, buy chickens and cows, and plant berry bushes and trees. As you expand your ingredients, your recipes become more varied and complex. At this point, you begin earning the big bucks. In turn, you can then improve the cafe area by adding new seating, encouraging cats to visit and more.

Whatever way you wish to tackle the action is up to you. However, you must balance an awful lot of elements to succeed. Accordingly, you must consider what areas to improve and then stick to your plan.

Lemon Cake is indie gaming personified. 

Indie gaming has come on leaps and bounds. Yet, they rarely compete with their visually superior triple-A cousins. Now, this may seem like a stupid statement but bear with me. What I’m getting at is that Lemon Cake personifies everything that is great about indie gaming. Its animation isn’t perfect, but it works. The backdrops are varied but lack detail, and the colours are rich, warm, and welcoming. In short, it’s nothing spectacular, but it looks amazing nonetheless. With 4 tiny rooms to explore and a range of similar customers to look at, it could have failed. However, I loved the refined approach.

What was also great was the calm and folksy soundtrack. The mellow music was relaxing and suited the game’s core concept. Alongside this, the basic sound effects added depth and realism to each task. Sadly, though, it isn’t a game with memorable audio, but it’s pleasant and enjoyable to listen to.

review lemon cake

Keep on cooking and make every customer happy.

Occasionally wayward controls. 

Mostly, Lemon Cake performs perfectly. The responsive controls and excellent layout make it easy to play. However, occasionally, the controls are clumsy and a little wayward. When this happens, it is really frustrating as it breaks the rhythm of your approach. Fortunately, though, it doesn’t happen often enough to be detrimental to the overall experience.

On paper, Lemon Cake is pretty repetitive. You follow the same routine day in, day out, and this could become tedious. However, with so many recipes to unlock, plenty of upgrades to install, and many ingredients to use, there is no rest for the wicked. Alongside this, there is a tough and demanding achievement list that requires hours of gaming. Subsequently, it has both replay value and longevity.

Lemon Cake is wonderfully relaxing and mentally demanding. 

Cooking simulation games are rarely relaxing. Yet, somehow Lemon Cake gets the balance just right. With a beautiful setting and a fun story, you’ll fall for its charms. But you’ll also be tested mentally, as you must be methodical and calm if you wish to succeed. I adored its simplicity, fun characters, and casually addictive nature. Consequently, I recommend you buy it here! Can you repair the bakery and run a successful cafe? Plan your menu, harvest the ingredients, and keep everyone happy.

SUMMARY

Lemon Cake Is a fantastic but hectic cooking simulator. Can you renovate this rundown bakery? Appease the customers, upgrade the equipment, and make everyone happy. With plenty of recipes on offer and loads of ingredients to grow, you must work hard, plan in advance, and stay calm.

+ Charming visuals.+ Mellow music.+ Easy to understand controls.+ Plenty of replay value.+ A simple concept.- It may get too hectic for some.- The controls are occasionally clunky.

(Rating: PEGI 3 Release date: 30/09/2022 Price: £25.99)

(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on Xbox One, PC (Steam), Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5)

8 Overall Score

Keyword: Review Lemon Cake

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