Ever dream of running a restaurant exclusively for monsters? Well, if this happens to be an aspiration of yours, let me introduce you to the latest offering from Black Market Games, entitled Dead Hungry Diner. A dangerously addicting time-management PC game aimed at the casual market, Dead Hungry Diner puts you in the shoes of one of two characters tasked with running a restaurant for various monsters, such as zombies, werewolves, and vampires. Pitching itself as an “action-puzzler”, and rightfully so, it’s a non-stop action game that requires your utmost concentration.

The basic premise of Dead Hungry Diner is to manage your monster customers by seating them in your restaurant, serving them their food, keeping certain kinds of monsters away from others, and, ultimately, doing this in the fastest, most efficient way. Monsters will line up outside your establishment, and you must seat these monsters depending on whether they are alone or in pairs. You’ll need to grab their bucket, fill it with berries, and take it back to their tables. When they’re finished, you’ll need to clean the table, and they will leave. Things are just that simple to start with, but get increasingly difficult rather quickly. Dead Hungry Diner does a fantastic job of teaching players the basics and gradually increasing the difficulty. As the lines grow larger, certain monsters become angrier than others, and you’ll need to manage priorities by moving the less patient customers to the front of the queue. This will get them seated and fed quickly so you don’t lose a sale. You’ll only need to deal with zombies at first, the least fussy of the customers you’ll have to worry about. However, as you advance through the levels, vampires and werewolves will start coming to your fine establishment and want some berries for themselves. The only problem with this is vampires and werewolves don’t get along, and you’ll need to take this into consideration when seating them. Make sure they’re not seated next to each other or they will fight, making you lose out on both sales. This is where your new buddy Frankie the Bouncer comes in handy. When things are hitting the fan, you can order him to break things up. You will receive other power-ups as you progress to the later stages, but we don’t want to ruin the surprise.

This game does share many similarities to Plants vs Zombies. It is aimed at the same audience and shares a very similar art style. While the gameplay is quite different, they serve the same market, and people may opt for the multi-award winning Plants vs Zombies, which is the same price and ultimately has more content to offer the player. This isn’t to say Dead Hungry Diner is lacking in content; there are 55 levels across 5 worlds and two modes of play. The story mode provides a nice narrative, some funny moments, and new elements thrown into the mix. The other mode is a survival mode, where monsters will turn up faster and in greater numbers. The game continues getting harder until you ultimately fail your goal of serving everyone. Dead Hungry Diner features the ability to buy new abilities from a shop between levels. Items, such as a spell that calms down customers who are close to breaking or the ability to transform a werewolf or vampire into a zombie, can be purchased here. These power-ups are quite helpful and certainly worth buying when you can afford them.

While Dead Hungry Diner is a fun game, there are a few points that leave something to be desired. Strangely enough, all you’ll be feeding these monsters are berries. While it doesn’t matter much, it would have added a little more variation and made things more interesting if there were more foods that had different functions. Dead Hungry Diner is the Quake of puzzle games; you will need to be quick, accurate, and aware of everything happening on the screen. Failing to have any of those three attributes will lead to your demise. While this makes things very exciting, it exposes its shortcomings and causes some frustration. Organizing the queue can be a pain when under pressure. It is not because the action is flawed, but rather the game itself slows down and becomes unresponsive. The familiar “right-click to cancel” feature is lacking in this game, and it is frustrating to not have the ability to cancel an action you made by mistake. More often than not, it will ultimately end up costing you valuable seconds, and it may even cause you to fail the entire level. You may be asking why you need to be so quick and accurate. Well, it’s because if you don’t earn enough money or serve all the customers in the given time limit, you’re probably going to fail. Things can get surprisingly tough early on, and you’ll feel as if you tried your best, made no mistakes, and yet still managed to fail. However, if you do manage to stick to it, you’ll find that when you do finally beat a level, it is incredibly rewarding.

Dead Hungry Diner looks brilliant and has a charming art style and catchy soundtrack that fits the mood perfectly. It’s as addictive as any other game in the genre, and you’ll get a thrill out of the frantic and exciting gameplay. The game looks polished, and it’s a joy to look at and play. There are some frustrations here and there, and you’ll most likely need a break from the frustrations this game creates, but what game doesn’t have these moments? If you’re a fan of the genre, a fan of Plants vs Zombies, or looking for something casual and addictive, there aren’t many better things we could suggest for the price than Dead Hungry Diner. You can pick it up from Steam here or the developer’s official page here.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ 

This review is based off of a review copy of the PC version of Dead Hungry Diner by Black Market Games

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