Alright, normally I like to make some joke about how Papa Louie of Flipline Studios' Papa's series is some big shyster who cons everyone into working for him, but this one is sort of your fault. In Papa's Pastaria, the latest installment in the addictive simulation series, you're desperate to book a hotel in exotic Portallini to attend a friend's wedding, and you're so excited to see that there's just one room available that you book it right away... without bothering to see what all those terms you didn't bother to read entailed. Now you're stuck working overseas for Papa in his latest venture, slinging pasta to order for some of the pickiest customers around. What's that? You want exactly three pieces of chicken on your linguini and you won't tip me if its a degree over al dente? Geez, it's like everyone in this town is LARPing as Gordon Ramsay.
If you've played any of the Papa games, then Pastaria's formula will be pretty familiar. Customers will arrive throughout the day and you'll take their excruciatingly particular orders, making sure not to keep them waiting too long, and cook everything just the way they like it. This time around, that involves cooking whatever type of pasta they wanted to the firmness they wanted, making sure to stir at certain points and then drain all the water, and then dress it with the sauce and toppings they want as cleanly and accurately as possible. Most of them will also want some sort of breadstick, toasted to perfection. Get everything done as fast and tidy as you can, and they'll give you a big tip you can spend towards upgrading the restaurant, with everything from faster cooking to decorations. Because every underpaid server loves to turn around and spend their tips on their employers. But here's a new twist you might not expect... this time around, you've also got a dining room to contend with, which means you'll have to hire servers as help who will bring you orders from customers seated there!
The dining room actually feels like a weird addition since the only thing it really adds is an extra layer of difficulty just by adding more customers without really noticeably changing the gameplay. Here's an idea... when are we going to see a "wipe the edge of the plate" option for those of us who know accidentally spilling some sauce or cheese is only a tip-killer if you haven't mastered the art of swiping a paper towel around the rim? Papa's Pastaria potentially already feels a bit more challenging than the others just because of the extra fiddliness added to everything... bread will cool off if you leave it too long, pasta takes time to drain and shaking it too hard to speed that up deducts points, throttling customers because they wanted their precisely four mushrooms evenly spaced deducts from your tip... oh wait, that last part was just in my fantasy. All of this will be familiar to fans of the series, and while some people have bemoaned the lack of serious change to the games since it first came out over six years ago with Papa's Pizzeria, many fans will appreciate the way Flipline has continued to tweak, refine, and subtly enhance the games without losing that addictive gameplay that brought them in the first place.