Battle Royales are coming in all shapes and sizes, all trying to bring their own unique twists to the formula and jostling to get the attention of players. PUBG was the first big one, but that’s been surpassed in popularity by Fortnite and endlessly evolving game, while big publishers like Activision and EA have looked to get into the genre through Call of Duty and Apex Legends. It’s a very serious business, but games don’t have to be series. In fact, Cuisine Royale began life as a joke.
Cuisine Royale doesn’t do anything too different from the battle royales that came before it, but it really leans into its own brand of humour. You’ll select your avatar and launch into a match on either the Normandy or Mexico maps with nothing more than a pair of pants (unless you buy a purely cosmetic costume) and a baseball bat to your name. There’s no battle bus or diving into a map, just a loading screen and there you are, randomly placed on the map. You could find yourself spawning already within the first zone or have to run towards it before the area starts shrinking.
The weapons are what you’d expect with pistols, machine guns, and rifles all distributed across the maps to scavenge, and fixed machine gun placements to take control of which can cut down enemies from a distance. The effectiveness of a weapon all depends on how well equipped your opponent is when it comes to armour; someone in just their underwear is going to fare a lot worse than someone who has some protection.
It’s here that Darkflow Software really give the game a personal touch. You might be on the lookout for tactical vests and helmets, but early on you’ll be much more likely to be grabbing cooking pots and other kitchenware to use as protection, from a colander on the head to strapping frying pans to your body. You’ll have to find gear to protect your left side, right side, chest, head, back, and buttocks. That’s right, Cuisine Royale has specific bum armour. Similarly, recharging your health isn’t done via health packs but has you chowing down on everything from canned goods to whole roast chickens, a throwback to Streets of Rage. If you want to recover you need to find cover and eat.
In addition to weapons and armour, players also have access to abilities that can grant boosts or help in a pinch. These require players to collect souls by killing other players before you can activate them. They include bullet time which slows down time for you so you can place shots and enemies will appear brighter, though time runs regularly for everyone else. There’s also Spirit Walk making you impervious to damage for a while, though you can only interact with doors and windows in the world, and Beast Mode which means you’ll become more powerful but can only fight with your hands. There are other skills as well which can reduce weapon recoil, for example, but that’s obviously far less interesting.
Cuisine Royale lets you play both solo or in a squad of four, always with the goal of being the last player or squad standing. Playing solo is fine, but being in a squad with friends really ups the entertainment level. Cuisine Royale has a ping system so you can highlight equipment to teammates, but that isn’t the only way to get gear.
Dotted around the maps are vending machines which are activated using Aztec coins which you find around the map. Sometimes the prize is weapons or food, or in one case, Tuffcub and I found live grenades. Not grenades that you can equip. No, these are grenades explode if you get too close to them after the machine has spewed them out. One moment we were stood there waiting for a prize, the next our corpses lay by the machine while our other teammates came running out to figure out what happened. Something so random should be frustrating, but it had us laughing at the absurdity.
Perhaps one of the more surprising things is just how polished an experience Cuisine Royale is on console. The draw distance is good on PlayStation 4, the maps are well designed and include everything from open spaces and homes to networks of trenches and bunkers. They’re also large enough for this variety to feel natural, but small enough to get to the action quickly if you wish, especially if you hop into a vehicle. However, with only 40 players in a match, it can take a while to find opponents to engage with, even with the smaller map size.