Schell Games’ newest VR experience is a fun, quick dive into the culinary history of three different cultures.
Lost Recipes taps into Schell Games’ educational history and experience designing fun VR experiences to deliver a unique spin on the cooking game. Though it doesn’t take more than two or three hours to play through its nine levels, Lost Recipes gives players fun reasons to revisit the kitchen.
Set across three distinct cultural and historical moments in history — Ancient Athens, Song Dynasty China, and the pre-colonial Yucatan Peninsula — Lost Recipes tasks players with cooking for a different ghost from each culture. Each ghost’s requests start simple; players might need to boil water for tea or bake a pita. As the levels progress, they begin to fold mechanics from previous levels into recipes, making for increasingly complex and challenging levels.
As you progress through the levels, you’ll also get to know the ghosts you’re cooking for a little better. Each voiced by a person from the culture that the dishes in the game come from, they lend a guiding voice as you explore their culinary history.
Lost Recipes lets players explore each recipe at a deliberate pace with ample room for trial and error by providing unlimited ingredients and giving clear audio and visual cues to indicate when something is done right. While some people looking for intense, sim-like kitchen experiences without a mess might be disappointed, this slower pace leaves room for the game’s best feature to shine through.
The ghosts are undoubtedly Lost Recipes’ biggest selling point. Each voice actor gives an emotional performance that demonstrates a passion for their culture and cuisine. Opening each level with a greeting in their native tongue, the ghosts then provide a brief history about the dish, including some quick lessons in etymology. But beyond that, they shine as characters, not just guides.
Each culture shines in its own way and accommodates what we know about each culture in 2022. The ancient Greek level focuses less on language and more on culture. You’ll learn that a Greek chalice has eyes on it to make it look like a mask when someone drinks from it, or about the history of the Parthenon. The Chinese level focuses a lot on specific traditions relating to the dishes, like that it’s tradition to have leftover fish when celebrating the Lunar New Year. The level set in the Yucatan Penninsula focuses the most on Yucatec words for different dishes and foods from before the region was colonized.
Much as it did with the ghosts, Schell Games put lots of care into researching culturally and historically accurate kitchens and utensils from each culture and era in which the game takes place. Recreations of bowls, gourds, jugs, knives, and other implements that you might find in a museum sit atop counters reminiscent of what might be found in a kitchen from that culture.
Beyond the historical and cultural aspect, Lost Recipes is just an overall solid VR cooking game. Chopping green onions or putting meat on a skewer is as fun as ever, and the promise that you’ll never have to worry about cleaning up after yourself is always fun.
Lost Recipes even makes sure that moving around the kitchen is fun, with a unique solution for moving around a digital space. Players are given the option to adjust their position at any time by grabbing onto a ledge or counter to get a better angle. This doubles as a solution to make playing while sitting down much more accessible, allowing players to reach items on the floor without bending over.
Cooking isn’t quite as intense an affair as it might be in other VR cooking games, nor is it as goofy as it is in Cooking Simulator VR, but Lost Recipes still brings plenty of entertainment along with the learning and culture and will make you want to try the recipes in real life, which these cooking and recipe apps can help with.
Although the act of cooking isn’t necessarily remarkable compared to other VR cooking games, Lost Recipes makes up for it by bringing together engaging historical, cultural, and linguistic lessons that add a layer of depth that lots of other cooking games don’t have. It’s a different experience from other Schell Games releases like I Expect You to Die 2 or Until You Fall, but still worth playing.
Explore historical kitchens
$15 at Oculus
You don’t know what you’re missin’ if you aren’t in the kitchen!
Lost Recipes displays a clear adoration for food, culture, and food history and provides players with nine mechanically interesting and educational cooking challenges.