Delicious: Emily's Childhood
One of the best-looking and most thoroughly engaging time management games is back with a brand new installment! Delicious: Emily's Childhood Memories follows the gameplay outlined in previous games, such as the winter-themed Delicious: Emily's Holiday Season, but offers players a peek into Emily's past, taking you through a tour of different sections of her life. As before, story is a big part of the experience, and the way the Delicious series weaves fun diversions into the time management portions is perfectly balanced to keep your brain entangled for the entirety of the game.
The core of Delicious: Emily's Childhood Memories will be immediately familiar to anyone who has ever played a time management game. Customers come in and either sit down or step right up to the counter. After a few moments, they make their decisions and a thought bubble shows the foods/items they want. Gather everything as quickly as you can and deliver everything to the appropriate customer. Once they're finished, take their cash and send them on their merry way. While the basics are certainly standard offerings, it's all of the extras that makes the Delicious series such a winning experience.
Clicking and delivering isn't all you'll need to do, however. In a very simple and casual manner, Delicious: Emily's Childhood Memories tasks you to cook/create certain dishes, adding a few steps to many orders. Sandwiches, for example, must be assembled one piece at a time, and working the honey machine requires a few well-timed clicks. None of these are overly challenging, yet they're interesting enough to feel like a relevant part of the game. Also, the queuing system and serving tray are smart enough to let you chain events together as you please, so you can take advantage of small gaps in preparation times to pick up additional items.
Delicious: Emily's Childhood Memories takes place across five unique locations, each taking place in a part of Emily's past. You start off at the farm where the young Emily helps her father serve customers as their small restaurant. As with previous Delicious games, diversions appear in almost every level, and they're just as fun and engaging as ever. Early on, for example, you'll have to help Emily learn to ride a bicycle and help find daisies for her grandfather. You'll also need to keep an eye out for mid-level bonuses, such as the mouse that pops up from time to time.
Analysis: If you're a fan of Zylom Game Studio (and you really, really should be), devouring previous releases in the Delicious series as well as Heart's Medicine: Season One, you don't need to be convinced of how high-quality Emily's Childhood Memories is. A quick peek at the game's artwork, a short video showing off the gameplay, or a brief description is all that's necessary to let you know to expect great things from this time management series. The latest game never fails to disappoint with its blend of story-centric gameplay, beautiful visuals, and simple but well-tuned time management gameplay.
Moving through Emily's life is surprisingly poignant, as you get to see key moments that mirror many memories adults carry from childhood. Learning to ride a bicycle, catching fireflies, and going to the prom are just a few pieces of story you'll gobble up as you run restaurants in Emily's memories. Capturing photos of these key moments adds a strong punctuation mark to them, and unlocking trophies creates yet another long-term goal for you to work towards.
It would be difficult to pin any sort of improvement requests on a game like Delicious: Emily's Childhood Memories. It's a long game, running approximately six hours from beginning to end, with variable difficulty you can change from the main menu. The story pulls you through in the long run, the upgrades and mini-games distract you during the main game, and the time management core is very well-tuned. Once again, the Delicious series comes along to teach everyone exactly how stunning a casual time management game could (and should!) be.
Note: Currently, the only version of Delicious: Emily's Childhood Memories is the Premium Edition, which features bonus content like concept art, extra levels, additional upgrades, and an in-game strategy guide.