Can you imagine trying to navigate the paperwork and interview process that goes along with trying to get an immigration visa? Well, what if you’re also attempting to cook the judges a dinner from your home country?
In Cook Your Way, you’re taken into this very hectic situation.
This alt.ctrl game was at GDC, presenting you with a stove top to play the game on. On the screen, you have your two judges, their conversations, and your recipe. They have selected a dish from your home country – a dish you should be able to make. However, you do need to make the best possible version of your home country dish, all while answering questions given to you by the judge.
In front of you is the controller: a large stovetop looking thing, a pot that you can stir, a knife slot for chopping, some dials for turning up heat or turning on water, as well as a slot for your ingredients and answers. Each ingredient is listed on a plastic card in front of you, as well as the words Yes and No. You will need to place these in the slot when it’s appropriate.
Much like any immigration system, this entire process is intimidating. You’re being given instructions that need to be done quickly, while two people chat over your future. At times, they randomly ask questions that need an answer before the time runs out. You also need to time your cooking, to make sure the dish comes out perfect. Being sure to cut right when the mini-game styled slider on the screen displays will make the cuts perfect. Stirring for the exact amount of time needed, washing ingredients enough, and generally making sure that you make these timers are key to being successful.
At times, the judges comment on your cooking skills or answers to the test, overlapping the instructions that you are given, eating away at your time as well. In the middle of cooking, you might be forced into a video recording bit of the game, where your food sizzles away while you explain to the camera what countries you’ve been to in the last year. This is shown as being recorded, displaying your face as you whisper into the microphone.
As I got to the end of my first dish, and my first attempt at immigration, I saw how well my cooking was. I had a very good score. Then, one of the judges said something that made my heart drop. “And that is why the pot needs to be at a medium temperature throughout the cooking process” – no one had said to turn the pot on. This obvious little mistake, something I should have known to do but didn’t under this stress, had just cost me my visa. My food was ruined.
There are lots of little places that also trip you up, much like this moment, in the game. I watched as someone who didn’t know English as their first language struggled to meet the times, as they needed more time to read. At another point, you are asked to add an ingredient that you don’t have, and you must find some sort of substitute based on assumed knowledge that you might just not have. As an immigrant who has applied for a visa in the past, this game really showcases how stressful, intense, baffling, and difficult the process is.
Cook Your Way is slated to release soon (although without its interesting stovetop controller).