My insatiable hunger for item shop games’ led me to Lemon Cake. Though I may suppress my hunger for such games at first, the slow buildup aftertaste of Moonlighter and Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale will surely burst that bubble eventually. Going back to either aforementioned titles will no doubt sedate my hunger; but I pride myself as a pioneer for new, interesting and innovative indie titles. After getting a bite of Lemon Cake though, my appetite for good item shop games grew even stronger.
Lemon cake is an item shop simulation game selling pastries. There’s no resemblance to any story in Lemon Cake, and the opening is nothing but a facade. Yet it still gives you a goal for you to thrive for and that is to make a lemon cake. But before you can craft the ultimate recipe, you must gain the necessary experience and procure the main ingredient first.
The selection of pastries available to make at the start is humbling and this humble number will grow over time as you rake in more experience. Crafting any of the pastries in Lemon Cake is nothing but a simplification of the actual process itself; grab the ingredient and put it in the batter, mix it well and slide the dough into the oven, and wait for it to bake. Just like that, you have crafted yourself a sweet roll. And now it’s time to open shop and sell your pastries.
Lemon Cake | Eloise Laroche
Customers won’t patronize the store unless you set the shop to open. Until that time, you’re given ample time to make the necessary preparation work. Work such as stocking up some pastry, refuelling the oven, cleaning up the store or even pre-made a pastry or two. This prep work helps in maximizing the shop’s earnings for the day and the challenge you face in Lemon Cake is trying to squeeze as much money as you can, especially during the lunch hour. During then, customers come in droves and it will get hectic as you run all over the shop cleaning the mess your customer made and doing your best to make as many pastries as possible. Once the clock strikes 1600 hours, the tide recedes and the store is now closed for the day.
It’s no doubt shocking to see a pastry store open until 1600 hours and what’s even more shocking is the amount of money earned after a day of hard work. You would honestly expect to rake in tens of dollars for your effort, but reality disappointed you with just $20-$30. But life goes on; you still have to decide which pastry you would like to put on sale for the next day or to save up enough money for new ingredients.
And that’s the entire gameplay of Lemon Cake. No doubt this entire set of routine work is repetitive and the only reason you still plough through is to unlock the allegedly legendary lemon cake recipe. Should you be looking forward to the business management aspect of Lemon Cake, you will end up sorely disappointed.
Lemon Cake provides an unlimited amount of the ingredients needed to make those pastries once you have unlocked them. For those looking forward to handling your funds and min-maxing your profits while trying to avoid a loss, you won’t get that kind of satisfaction over at Lemon Cake; even if you only sell one pastry per day, you are still earning money. There’s no upkeep to pay nor losses to worry about even when you produce more pastry than you can sell.
The only joy to be had in Lemon Cake is strategizing on how to make money efficiently; or rather which recipe shares the same ingredients with each other to be put up in the menu, this is so you will spend less time running around between the kitchen and the garden and spend more time baking pastry. As your level increases, you will unlock more recipes and during that time you’re given the option to select one out of three recipes to learn from for every level. Serious consideration is needed when selecting the recipes; because getting your desired recipe is pointless when you don’t have the ingredients to make that said recipe.
With that being said, levelling up is pretty fast in Lemon Cake, but that can only be said for up to level 10. The experience level threshold increases after every level and it feels like a grind to level up after level 10. This is even more so when you hit level 20. But should you endure and preserve just to unlock that lemon ingredient with the hope of unlocking the lemon cake recipe for your next level up recipe selection is nothing but a fool’s dream. Just because you have unlocked the ingredient, that doesn’t equate to having the recipe related to the said ingredient.
Lemon Cake | Eloise Laroche
What happens next when you have unlocked every single ingredient there is to get and shop upgrades? The slow grind of levelling up just to get every single recipe there is in Lemon Cake. When you have reached that point in the game, might as well grind it out and aim for that 100% steam achievement.
Lemon Cake is ultimately a niche game for an even niche-er community. No doubt it is a pretty chill game though it can be hectic during lunch hour. But should you be looking for a wonderful item shop experience or an in-depth store management game concerning profits and losses, I suggest shop somewhere else as Lemon Cake doesn’t provide that experience.
Platform: PC (Windows [Played])
Publisher: Eloise Laroche
Developer: Eloise Laroche
Rating: 6.0 out of 10
Price: $14.50 (or your region equivalent)