Dead Hungry Diner is a charming, casual game with strategic elements that has you working a restaurant, fulfilling orders from zombies, werewolves, vampires and other such monsters. Its an easy to play game that involves a bit of strategy to make the most efficient use of your time as you pick up two orders before delivering them, rather than one at a time. There’s a familiar formula here that offers a new twist outside of its monster gimmick in the way that your customers get hostile when seated next to the wrong patron. If you can endure the early first restaurant, the game gets better, more enjoyable and engaging rather than frustrating.
There are fifty levels, each broken into nighttime shifts that tick by as waves of new customers enter. It starts enough with tables for two or one. Customers arrive solo or tandem. You click on the next party in the cue and either seat them or push them to the back of the line. Once they’re seated, you wait as they take their order which appears as a bucket on their table. This means that they want a bucket of brains. What else would zombies and even vampires want?
You click on their order and then click on the brain tree, yes brain tree. Brains grow on trees. You see your selectable male or female character follow your commands in the order that you made them. After waiting a brief moment, brains will be served, where you then click on the table that they go to, but with only one thing on the menu, there’s no way to bring it to the wrong table. After they chow down, they raise a pair of golden moneybags where you take the money. If you’re quick enough, they leave a mess for you to wipe down by clicking and earn more of a tip for doing so. After that a pair of ravens show up to pick the table clean I suppose.
When you seat monster types at a table, the table will then give you a bonus for every monster of the same type that sits there afterward and it adds up. You need to be quick though, waiting in line causes blood to boil, which is why you’ll need to use special abilities like love to cheer them up and a rain check that forces them to return later. You can soon unlock super speed and a zombie substitution that turns a party into zombies rather than something else. There’s a lot to keep track of.
I would appreciate diverse upgrades such as the ability to serve the table behind you, because even if all you need to do is turn around, the game will run your character around to the opposite side. This is just a game mechanic, but visually, it makes little sense.
There is a lot of charm and story that adds to the gameplay, while weighing down the speed of the game. You’ll meet a mysterious cloaked figure that sells you power ups and new abilities. These upgrades can make your character move quicker and reduce the cool down wait between ability usages. You can even purchase ways to keep Frankie awake.
Who is Frankie? He’s your big green bouncer that breaks up werewolf scuffles that murder your patrons. As I’ve mentioned before, the werewolves become the bane of your business and the game in general. They hate vampires and lose their temper quick, before they take it out on other patrons. This costs you two parties as they’re both ejected or one kills the other. They ruin the flow and only add stress, when a game should be fun. To compensate for the werewolves hating the vampires, they love skeletons, because yes dogs love bones. A fight can lose a level for you, even if you need to wait until the end of a shift to see.
It turns into a maddening, frantic and stressful rush as the werewolves get introduced early in the game and start attacking other patrons. These werewolves and their high demand make me question if I want to keep playing after each level. It derails the game, but it does ease up if you can endure to larger bigger restaurants that have more tables to keep the troublemakers apart.
At some point a witch will show up to destroy the your patrons and you need to click each one before she fires her wicked spell. Under normal circumstances, witches in media would side with monsters, but since most witches are bad, this one is just as nasty. While you are running a business on brain trees, it would be nice to one day serve humans, but I suppose that encroaches on a different game’s territory.
The click heavy controls feel cumbersome and inefficient with a game that you need efficiency. With all of the frantic clicks, I think its better suited for a touch screen rather than a mouse. Several times I’d miss a click or perhaps it just never registered and it ruined the flow I had going. There are no hot keys, making it even less efficient.
You can get one of three star ratings for each level. A passing grade means that you’ll unlock the next level.One of the good things about the game is that you can see the stars build up in the top right corner. Like with most casual or mobile games, you can replay any level to get a better score. Its a nice system that seems standardized by now.
As you progress through the game, there are five restaurants each with ten levels. The bigger the restaurant, the more tables you get. Each restaurant starts with a few tables in shambles that make it easier, but before you know it, the diner is fully operational by the final level. Having more tables makes the game far less frustrating, because you can have a werewolf section and a non werewolf section.
Dead Hungry Diner is a fun diversion that gets deeper in bite sized chunks the further you progress. I can recommend it more for a touch screen than a mouse, but its still enjoyable after a bout of frustration early on.