Disclaimer: Elex Inc provided The Geekly Grind an in-game currency package of 2,000 crystals, 500,000 gold, 1,800 soul embers, and 40 beginner seasonings, in exchange for a fair and honest review.
When Food Fantasy popped up as a targeted Facebook ad, prior to its release, I joked to my friends that clearly the internet knows me too well. Cute characters, a seemingly ridiculous premise, and food? Sign me up! So, naturally, when The Geekly Grind was asked to do a review, I immediately volunteered as tribute.
It’s a little difficult to explain Food Fantasy in a way that lets someone truly envision it. I’ve heard it described as a Diner Dash meets fantasy RPG game, and that’s definitely a little bit of it. But alongside your restaurant-running and boss fights, you’ll find a little bit of a lot of other things too. From showdowns with other players’ teams and challenging deep dungeons, to explorations and Food Soul gacha, there’s plenty for players to do. Think more like a high fantasy world in which Diner Dash and Pokemon had a baby that grew up into a cute anime character collection. Honestly I have no idea what demographic Food Fantasy is supposed to be marketed toward, but I also am completely sure that I’m part of it.
Food Fantasy takes place in a rather unique world. I’ll keep the backstory limited so that you can discover it as you play through, but the main premise is that humans developed a way to extract souls from food, to help them in a war against fallen angels. It’s a background that sounds hard to make believable, but somehow it really works. As you start the game, it all seems innocent enough – you collect some food souls, start up your restaurant, and get things running! But as you work your way through the story, it turns out strange things are afoot… and maybe the world is much more dangerous than it seems.
There’s a lot to talk about here, so if you need a tl;dr, I’d say that Food Fantasy is definitely worth checking out! Especially at the low, low cost of “free.” Want some more details? Let’s-a go!
For a story that made my friends and I constantly ask “what on earth is happening in this game?!,” Food Fantasy is shockingly cohesive and honestly so fun that it barely matters. I’ve skipped through a lot of stories in mobile games because they just weren’t engaging, but every new bit of information in Food Fantasy makes me want more, and to see just where this unique tale takes us. There have also definitely been some plot-twists so far, though I’m only at level 28. Sometimes a weird, fresh story just works. This is definitely one of those times.
The main story will make you pace yourself, and force you to do some alternate content for exp to get past level-locks. To earn exp and/or materials, there are several non-story things you delve into. If you want to make progress and earn exp, soul embers, and ingredients, you can keep fighting your way through areas (more of them will open as you continue to level up). The restaurant and showdowns both give you currency that you can use in different shops. There, you can buy miscellaneous items or food shards. These shards can be used either to make unlocked souls more powerful, or (in large amounts) to obtain new ones. Explorations and deliveries will bring you back materials, while delving into the catacombs will grant you fallen angels and experience.
Fights can sometimes feel a little slow, though you can eventually put them on double-speed. Like many similar-style mobile RPGs, battle involves tapping. You’ll have to tap away minions that appear, trigger special linked attacks, and tap bosses to interrupt or weaken their special attacks. In battles where a lot is going on, it can be kind of fun and even hectic. In some of the simpler ones, it can get a little unexciting. You’ll create teams of five food souls, which belong to different roles: defense (tank), magic and strength (dps), support (healer), etc. You might need to adjust roles for different stages – a treasure chest level won’t really do damage, but has a very strict time limit, so focus on high attack, for example. If you’re just going back for some exp and ingredients after you’ve cleared a stage with three stars, you’ll have the option to “sweep” in exchange for three hearts. This gets you any rewards and experience you’d get from actually running the stage without having to spend time on it. Showdown battles are auto-triggered, meaning you don’t have much to do at all. Realistically, you’ll only do a few fights at a time unless you’re trying to deep-dive the Catacombs. Otherwise, you’ll be on timers for deliveries, cooking, etc.
With all kinds of restaurant décor, and even skins for food souls, there’s room for some fun personalization. You can also make numerous teams to carry on different tasks. If you pair up certain souls – Black Tea and Milk, Milk, and Coffee, Steak and Red Wine, for example – you get access to linked skills in battle, which can give you an edge on your opponents.
One of my favourite features is definitely the tutorial that spans across several levels. New features unlock as you keep moving up, which means the game rarely gets boring – there’s always something new to see or do. The tutorial helps break it down quickly and easily, so that you never miss what new things are available. It makes it easy to understand what you can do, and I didn’t feel confused about where to go for things very often.
Now… I will admit my experience playing probably doesn’t match the typical free-to-play player, since I had an advantage with my gift from Elex. However, part of what I wanted to do as I played was pay attention to natural resource accumulation, and how far currencies will take you. I didn’t find myself spending many crystals – you can use them to speed up certain things in-game, and buy restaurant décor. You can also use crystals to get a random amount of gold – I think when I tried it, I got about 20,000. Gold was something I did use pretty frequently, sometimes in large amounts. The good news is that you also gain it back from restaurant sales and some missions, so it’s pretty easy to gain. Overall, accumulation happens at a pretty decent rate, and while I think free-to-play players will definitely have a little more work cut out for them, I didn’t feel like the game was skewed *too* heavily toward “you have to pay or it won’t be fun!”
Players who do feel like spending money will find lots of gift packs with various currencies and resources. At certain levels, there will be a deep discount level up package. New players also get limited offer sets, which were pretty useful and often deeply discounted. Spending between $1-$5 can get you a hefty amount if you catch one of these discounted packs (personally I keep a little balance from Google Play Rewards to use on games like this, and I was really happy with what I could pick up in exchange for limited funds).
Before we wrap up, let’s talk about aesthetics and atmosphere… Food Fantasy is an absolutely beautiful game, with high quality artwork. The food souls have amazing and unique designs, and it’s fun to see how the artists imagined each food or drink. The human characters are also incredibly designed. Backgrounds and maps are lovely, and the art that shows on loading screens is stunning. These are definitely graphics I’d expect in a pay-for game, and I was amazed to see just how beautiful this free mobile game was. The music varies based on map and activity, but it all makes for great ambient background music – especially the first piano theme that we get to hear. Anime and game fans will likely even recognize a number of voices, with some well-known vocal talent behind a number of the characters. There’s no doubting that Food Fantasy is a mobile game when you look at its gameplay, but it’s definitely got a top-quality design worthy of any console.
There’s a chat window on the side of the layout that you can expand to see what other players are talking about – I’ve seen not just conversations, but also tips and tricks, and users helping one another out. Eventually you can unlock and join guilds, though I feel like that should be an earlier feature in the game, instead of all the way after level 30 or so. I have a guild to join and I can’t do it until I level up a little more – being able to join one earlier on would help players feel a little bit more like they’re part of a community, which can be lacking in mobile games and is one of the more fun parts of playing online.
Overall, I’m pretty happy with my Food Fantasy adventure so far and have happily gotten a few people to sign up and join me (and even better, all of them are having fun). If you like quirky games, interesting RPGs, gacha collections, diner simulations…. You’ll probably find something enjoyable here. Even if you don’t, give it a shot if you like quirky games with cute characters! This was definitely a win for me.
- Stunning artwork
- Great option for free-to-play mobile gamers
- Quirky, fresh premise
- Makes it easy to socialize with other players
- Plenty to do and see
- Sometimes unexciting battles
- Guilds are unavailable until several levels into the game
- Having several features can sometimes get overwhelming
- Macaron's voice