Have you ever looked at one of those super cute slimes in an RPG and thought, “Dang, that looks delicious”? Or maybe you’ve looked at a giant mushroom enemy and wanted to throw it in a meal? While you may not actually be able to eat them yourself, you can sure cook them up in Marenian Tavern Story: Patty and the Hungry God!
When your little brother accidentally becomes cursed by the super cute God of Poverty, your family loses everything, including your five-star restaurant in the big city. Luckily you’ve got an unending sense of optimism, some terrific skills, a growing assortment of friends, and an abandoned building you can use to start up a restaurant of your own and build back up. Sure it’s smaller, dirty, broken down, in a much smaller town, and needs a lot of work, but what would you expect out of a free restaurant?
Title: Marenian Tavern Story: Patty and the Hungry God
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Game Version: Final
Review Copy: Provided by publisher
Interface: Handheld Switch console as well as docked with Joy-Con Grip controller
Available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, iOS, Google Play (trial or premium)
Patty’s brother has been possessed by the God of Poverty and the whole family has become poor, with huge debts… This is the beginning of Patty’s struggle! To pay back the debts, let’s open a tavern in Marenia, gather ingredients, and start cooking!
Run the adventure tavern how you like! Collect ingredients and cook new dishes above 600! You get level ups not by defeating monsters, but by eating food. Train your characters, conquer new dungeons, and aim to get new ingredients through exploration, farming, fishing, and many more ways!
What will your tavern be like?
Marenian Tavern Story: Patty and the Hungry God (which I’ll refer to as Marenian Tavern Story because the full title is a mouthful) is a game of many possibilities. While it’s an RPG at heart and you’ll spend plenty of time in turn-based battles, you’ll also be farming, gathering supplies, fishing, cooking up 600+ different recipes, buying supplies and selling your creations in your tavern. Your goal is to turn your tavern into a 5-star restaurant, and each rank (there are 2 per star) requires achieving three tasks: reaching a certain total in sales, weakening the God of Poverty by offering it delicious food, and completing a specific story quest. This quest typically involves completing a newly unlocked area and defeating the boss, and by the end of the game your map will be packed with places to go!
Each day is made up of similar events: you start the day in the tavern with (hopefully) lots of money from the previous day’s restaurant sales. When you leave Marenia you can go to any single location you’ve unlocked, spend as much time there as you’d like, and then go back home. Whether it’s before or after going somewhere else, you can buy items at the local shop, cook up food, eat food, and stock the restaurant’s menu. Once you open the restaurant for the day, the day ends and you get to do it all over again! Out of all the things you’ll do in Marenian Tavern Story, the game is made up of 5 main components: shopping, eating, exploring, selling food, and cooking.
Shopping can be done in Marenia or one of the other various towns you’ll discover throughout your time with the game. While going to one of these other towns uses up your one trip outside of Marenia per day, it’s often worth it to get rare ingredients or to stock up on things you need. Other towns also sell better equipment than what Marenia has, as well as new recipes and better cooking equipment like ovens and fryers.
Eating is the only way to level up. Each day every character gets a freshly-empty stomach which you can fill with delicious food! Each cooked item has an EXP value and a fullness value, and many also give you a bonus perk for the day like +25 HP or the ability to see hidden passages. Only the most recently eaten food’s bonus applies for the day, so choosing a proper order for a day’s meal is important!
Exploring is the bread and butter of the game. Choosing a location with enemies throws you into the beginning of the area, and you’ll fight random enemies as you walk around. Enemies drop up to three items each when defeated, and you’ll also find gathering spots around the maps as you go that give you an assortment of supplies from the area. Fishing spots are similar: once you get a fishing pole you can fish at the various spots on any given level. Each time you fish uses a piece of bait, and while there’s no minigame or anything, you can either get nothing, some type of item, or a difficult battle out of it. You could theoretically spend hours during a single day’s exploration if you really wanted to battle a bunch of random enemies forever, but you can leave any time with an escape rope item or by exiting from the beginning or end of the map. But beware, every area has a boss you’ll have to defeat once before you can use its exit.
Combat is simple enough: you bring your party of up to 3 people along and take turns battling up to 6 enemies. You’ll see the order of turns in the bottom-left corner, and on each character’s turn you can attack, use a skill or an item, guard, or try to run the heck away. I found that most battles went perfectly fine using the auto-fight option. In addition to getting items from battle, you’ll also earn various types of EP (physical, fire, water, wind, and earth) depending on what enemies you defeated. These various EP values are what unlock new skills for each character, and you can see how close you are to unlocking them all at any time in the menu, which made for an interesting balance between eating and fighting. Some of these skills are even passive, like Erika’s (my favorites) that make it more likely enemies will drop items, make it so that you gather more items when you check gathering spots, and even increases the effectiveness of supplies (such as making your revive items restore 100% of a character’s health from death instead of 75%!).
Selling food is how you’ll earn about 99% of your money, and each tavern rank up requires hitting a total sales goal. You can have up to 10 different items on the menu, but you can have as many of each item for sale as you want. Each item also has two icons that show how well it’ll sell – a sales rating and a tedium rating. The higher the sales rating, the more likely you are to sell lots of them, but the more of an item you sell the lower the tedium score goes. Basically, you should try to fill your menu with recipes that have high sales meters and big red smiley faces on them! At the end of each day you’ll get a report of how many of each item sold, along with the total amount of money earned and the status of your goals toward the next restaurant rank up.
Finally, cooking is what makes Marenian Tavern Story quite unique. I’ve played lots of games where you could run a business, cook food, and/or sell things, but this is probably the most deep-yet-simple of them. As I mentioned previously, there are over 600 recipes in the game, which sounds kind of frightening at first. 600+ recipes, each with a price value, EXP value, fullness value, sales rating, tedium rating, and a potential dish effect sounds very overwhelming! Luckily the game has lots of filters and sorting functions to make cooking whatever you want easy as pie.
You have three options to begin cooking: recipe cooking, original cooking, and lookup cooking. Original cooking allows you to put together any ingredients you want, choose which cooking tool you want to use to make the food item, and then tells you the result! You’ll usually get a “Failed Dish” that goes straight in the trash, but if you get inventive or cheat and look up recipes online you can come up with things before you even get an official recipe in the game for it! Lookup cooking allows you to select any single item and it’ll display all the recipes you’ve found for it. This works great if you’re close to the max limit of a certain item or want to find out which recipe to make with a super rare item.
This leaves the main cooking menu: recipe cooking. Here you’ll see every single recipe you’ve found thus far. You can sort these recipes by type (fruit dishes, alcohols, or rice dishes for example), ingredient recipes (items that can’t be put on the menu but are used in other recipes, like bread or riceballs), or by the most valuable or most EXP. You can also remove all recipes that you’re missing any ingredients for, leaving you with a list of only the items you can actually make with what you currently have.
I was surprised at how often I used different methods to sort and find what I wanted, and how naturally these came to me throughout my 40+ hours with the game. Want to make lots of money? Sort by value, get a shopping list of what you need to complete some of the most valuable ones, and make a good 10-20 of a bunch of different things. Want to level up your characters? Sort by EXP, try to find recipes that have a good EXP to fullness ratio, then make a bunch and eat it all up! I would’ve LOVED an in-game option to mark items I wanted to buy, but a notepad file worked pretty well.
While sorting, you’ll also see all “hint recipes”. These are recipes that you’ve found part of the recipe for, but there’s at least one unknown. Maybe you know Salmon Sashimi requires Sashimi Garnish, Soy Sauce and Ice, and the tool required is a knife, but there’s something missing… Oh hey, maybe it’s Salmon! Other recipes are trickier, such as knowing you need a bottle and sugar for deluxe lemonade, but the recipe shows there are two missing ingredients. One has to be lemon since, well, it’s lemonade… But what could that second one be? Water results in a regular lemonade, so maybe there’s a more “deluxe” version of lemon or water? You can certainly complete the game without ever using one of these hint recipes, but they give you way more options in the long run and it’s kinda cool being able to mess around and figure them out. I’ll admit I was scared to try out the hint recipes with super rare, expensive ingredients though, since items are lost even if your recipe is a failure, just like real life.
With all of this said, all this ended up being rather repetitive. I enjoyed the game quite a bit when I played just a few days at a time, but when I sat down and played 4-8 hours in a row I found myself more bored than anything.
Toward the end of the game you make enough money each day to simply run to another town each day, buy lots of supplies, come back home, make food, sell it, and repeat. The sales goals got MASSIVE toward the end of the game, and the game only checks for your success on the last day of each four-day week. This means that if it takes you 9 days to hit your goals you’ll have to wait another 3 days to get your next rank up. You can totally just zoom through days by throwing items you already prepared on the menu (or leaving it blank!) and opening the restaurant, but that often feels like a waste of time.
For a game with so much going on, and with all of the systems balanced together rather beautifully, it was a bit disappointing. But hey, playing on mobile or handheld on the Switch is a great distraction for an hour or two at a time, and being able to save anywhere is a blessing for any portable game.
Above all, my biggest takeaway for Marenian Tavern Story is the developer’s love of food. It shows us that food is a treasure, not a necessity to become stronger or as a way to make money. Learning new recipes and discovering new ingredients is a form of adventure! Not only that, food manages to bring the people of Marenia together, make people happy, create friendships, and unite races that once hated each other. Even the adorable God of Poverty is seen as a blessing as the game goes on, and if value and redemption can be found in a creature that brings bad luck and misfortune to those around it, they can be found in anyone!
Finally, those who enjoy playing a game forever will be happy to know that you can continue playing after completing the story. In fact, there were at least 2 points when I figured the game was over and was proven wrong. Without spoiling anything, there are numerous unique goals to complete before the game’s true ending. Once it’s all over you’ll have numerous optional, incredibly difficult bosses to take on and all the remaining trophies to earn in the game – specific multi-tiered achievements, not PlayStation trophies. After spending 40+ hours to complete the game I still have around 40% of the trophy stars to earn, 35% of the equipment items to find, a single ingredient to discover, 44%(!!!) of the game’s recipes to learn and a bunch of new enemies to encounter, including most of the optional bosses.
People who really love to challenge themselves can try to complete the game in as few weeks as possible or take on dietary restrictions like never using dairy or only making pizzas or salads or soups or rice dishes!