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I love that games now have a totally narrative focused genre and that its becoming more prevalent in gaming. It allows experimentation and an insight into stories not often told. Hot Pot For One falls into the experimental category as a short 15 minute visual novel and mini cooking game. That sounded right up my street but sadly it just doesn’t do either in great detail.
You play as a character whose had their two friends cancel for a communal hot pot just after you (the player) orders a selection of ingredients. You’ll then spend time moving between your phone reading messages, clicking around the small kitchen around you for environmental story cues and using the mouse to pick up ingredients and drop them into your hot pot. Stir them around and turn up the heat, its a nice little mini game with no real error factor. Think Cooking Mama and you’ve got it.
Sadly, the story doesn’t really come together. Clicking on kitchen objects reveals childlike drawings that are a little too abstract to draw much meaning from. The text messages are fine but run of the mill and the cooking is so basic you can’t go wrong. You then get to eat it complete with gobble sounds before deciding what to keep in your fridge for leftovers. This is where my utter fury kicked in – and I apologise in advance is its very specific to me.
The leftovers mini game is horrible as the ingredients spill out over the floor, don’t fit in the box and couldn’t be less convincing if it tried. Then when the game decides the box is full, the credits roll as you see the rest of the massive amounts of food you ordered and cooked is put in the bin. Just no! Your fridge wasn’t full, the box wasn’t full… I wasn’t full! Its all fresh, you could just pop some film over it for the love of recycling. So as a melodramatic outro vocal song sings at you to tug your slice-of-life heartstrings, I was left questioning just how wasteful everyone is with their food.
Whilst there is some replayability choosing different ingredients for future playthroughs, the gameplay and ending will always be the same and collecting the 20+ pictures does little to add to the story of your lonely life. I’m delighted that Hot Pot For One exists. It tells a different story to anything else out there but its also very barebones and clunky, even for its price point. I hope the duo that developed it has another go at something similar in the future as there is something here, it just needs some meat and polish.
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