by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
A hallmark of a solid, fun franchise is being able to do a variety of things with it without it burning out, being boring, or unentertaining. So far I’ve played Holy Potatoes! A Weapon Shop!?, Holy Potatoes! We’re in Space!? and now I’ve played Holy Potatoes! What The Hell!? and I have to say, it’s pretty damn great. From a Weapon Shop Simulator to a Turn-based Strategy Game, and now we have a Cooking Game! I have to say, it’s a far cry from the last cooking game I played (Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit). Despite this one being set in literal Hell, it’s still far more wholesome. The idea behind it is that you’re a Spud (Of course, everyone in this game is a Potato) and you’re in Hell. But since you’re a Chef, you have to work serving the various ne’er-do-wells that come to dine. From Loki, Thanatos and more, they’ll come for your sinners, and you’ll fry them up!
That’s one of the things that made me laugh about this. The Holy Potatoes franchise is known for being clever and witty, and this one has no lack of fun and face-palm worthy puns, but you also have to cook up these sinners in your friers. You have four colored friers (red, blue, green, yellow) and each color is tied to a particular negative trait. Malice, Pride, Greed, Apathy. Each of these colors is a type of ingredient, and the recipes you’ll gain all require certain amounts of them, whether it’s 1 Red 2 Green, 1 of each, et cetera. I’m grateful that you pause the game to fry up your ingredients, and you ideally always want someone frying, so you have a steady stream of ingredients. Your friers can wear down and be in need of repair, so make sure you have plenty of spare ingredients. You can also upgrade them, buying better friers, but as you move through the Circles of Hell, you do not take those with you or your Favor. Favor is used to buy new stuff while in a circle, and between days, you can spend $tarch to buy new, more temporary upgrades.
These Spuds will occasionally try to talk you out of frying them too. When you’re on the Sinner Menu, you’re faced with one Spud at a time, and he’ll say what brought him there. Like Pieter Parkour. He killed his uncle, who was trying to teach him about power … This leads me to something else you should be aware of. Their stats vary wildly, and you should try to avoid frying up someone with a stat under 70-75~. The higher the better. So if a spud has all of its stats very high, you really have to consider carefully where to put it. That next one is bound to have a very low stat where you need it. Sometimes it’s better to simply wait and risk the wrath of the Gods rather than cook subpar ingredients. As you descend deeper, the challenge gets greater, and the need for better ingredients is greater, so get into that habit right away. Keep an eye on what kinds of things Gods want to eat, and upgrade your friers accordingly. Is it better to wait and upgrade them all at once? Or do one or two at a time? That’s entirely up to you. I did find several moments where I had to let a frier stay empty because the stats were simply too low to cook, which will add its own level of difficulty to the game.
Research new recipes, prepare the appropriate meals for your Godly visitors, and as you build up favor with them, they will bestow upon you boons, such as faster cooking. That’s where the challenge comes in though. Having multiple diners means you have to juggle your ingredients and their needs appropriately. That’s also where the temporary buffs come in, being able to make x amount of meals faster/better/have a higher grade. From D to A, you want to have the best possible grade on your meals. After all, if they wait too long, or if it doesn’t meet their criteria, you’ll lose favor and that’s the last thing you want. After all, if you’re going to be here for Eternity, why not make it as enjoyable as possible? The real strategy/difficulty comes in Time Management. You really have to manage your time (the stages are timed, after all), planning what you’ll make when, what ingredients you’ll prepare. I recommend trying to make one or two extra foods if possible, you’ll never know when they’ll be useful. Especially when a God says they want “Something C+ or better”, and doesn’t care “what” it is. Then you’re prepared.
Serve or Save? 5/5
You know, I thought after three games they’d run out of potato-based puns, that showed me. They’re still here, they’re still clever, and it’s definitely a new way to use potatoes, which I sincerely appreciate because potatoes are awesome. They continue to push the boundaries of their IP, using it in a new and exciting way. This game feels unique compared to the other two and was an absolute blast. I’m several hours in, and I still am having a blast trying to prepare my way for each challenge as it comes. It never feels too difficult or impossible to get through, and if you want to keep going on a stage, you can stay there, even if you completed it. The difficulty does get higher past circle three, so be aware that it’s not going to stay easy forever. I really couldn’t find anything that I didn’t enjoy about the game. Failure just meant I had to rethink my strategy. It wasn’t the end of the world. My favorite Holy Potatoes game is still “We’re in Space”, but it’s closely tied by these other two. Another really lovely addition to this game is the full 3D characters! It’s not flat and 2D, but with delightful 3D animations. Are they necessary? No. But are they awesome? Yes. Yes, they are. You will definitely get your moneys worth in Holy Potatoes! What The Hell!?