Geek It! Ctrl+Gaming Review / Little Dragons Cafe

Have you been yearning for an adventure set in the medieval times? Do you like meeting people and learning about different recipes? Do you want to have a dragon companion? In this Ctrl+Geek Gaming review, we share our thoughts on a quaint stimulation game called LITTLE DRAGONS CAFE.

Created by Yasushi Wada — also known as the creator of the HARVEST MOON series — LITTLE DRAGONS CAFE revolves around a Mother and her twin children, Ren and Rin, who owns and lives in a cafe together. For the longest time, it was just them three and the siblings took every opportunity to help their Mother.

Little did they know that disaster would strike when they least expect it — their mother didn’t wake up one morning. Suddenly, a strange man magically appears and tells them that they must raise a dragon called Draco to save their Mother. With little life experience and no manpower, how can they possibly achieve this impossible mission in addition to operating the cafe?

In Little Dragons Café, players can choose to play as either Ren or Rin. In this story-driven gameplay, you are ultimately required to manage your cafe whilst caring the little dragon until he is mature. While it all seems exciting to have a dragon companion, you have to mentally prepare yourself for the hard work ahead. As the gamer, we’re not just vicariously watching Ren/Rin’s lives fall apart — we now have to step up and take action on behalf of Ren and Rin.

Just like any cafe in the real world, the adventure comes complete with extremely eccentric and difficult guests. We’re talking about ghosts wanting revenge; an idol cat who has lost all hope; and a fortune teller who speaks of an impending doom. As these guests trouble you with their worries, only your cooking can help them overcome their problems. From a menu of savoury and dessert dishes, you can cook recipes (via a mini game) such as Udon, Bagna Cauda, Shrimp Au Gratin, Pot-au-Feu, and even weird dishes like a ‘garlic-filled stamina bowl’.

The game may seem chill and happy-go-lucky but Little Dragons Cafe‘s game format is very rigid: you have to collect recipe fragments and ingredients; cook dishes by playing a rhythm game; and serve customers. As you complete these mini quests on a repetitive basis, this enables the main story to progress and you get rewarded with new recipes and unlocked areas of the land.

Despite being a story-driven plot, there is little ‘interaction’ with other characters and time literally flies in this game. One minute you could be collecting ingredients and hunting dinosaur-like beasts; and the next minute you could be required to help out at the cafe due to an influx of customers. And also, with the amount of gameplay glitches and slow loading screens, it tests the gamers’ patience to a certain degree. There is no gaming flexibility whatsoever and sometimes we are forced to choose between ~leisure time and keeping up with the cafe’s demand.

But don’t let the above criticisms deter you from playing Little Dragons Cafe.

For us, the best highlights of this game is Draco and the design creation of Poato Island. As Draco physically grows, Draco gets to destroy obstacles, collect ingredients, hunt sea and land creatures, and of course, explore areas where no mankind has visited.

There is something about Poato Island that makes it quaint and magical. From the magical ponds to the mysterious Volcano mountain, it is always an exhilarating experience to spread our wings and explore this picturesque world. Of course, the design of Poato Island wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for the game’s use of traditional art style. The combination of harsh and pastel colours is somewhat charming and the rustic sketchiness suits the fantasy-medieval setting very well. Accompanied by a wondrous soundtrack of piano and string compositions, Little Dragons Cafe evokes strong nostalgic memories of picture books and adventure cartoons from the ’90s — a win in our books!

However, we must express our disappointment in Poato Island’s lack of human villagers — it’s as if cafe guests are coming from another portal. And also, for a game that involves dragons, one would think there is a hidden dragon village somewhere on the Island with hundreds of dragons! With these extra elements, we believe the game could’ve offered further exciting opportunities for the gamer. But alas, it cannot and did not.

— SPOILER ALERT — One of the biggest disappointments of this game has got to be THE mysterious bridge. As each section of Poato Island gets unlocked, we held out hope that the bridge would be accessible once we completed the story. To continuously tease us throughout the entire game just to be sorely gutted, the game left us on a sour conclusion to our journey.

RATING: 7.5/10

Overall: For a RPG game, LITTLE DRAGONS CAFE isn’t a bad game nor is it the best game. It delivered what it wanted to do — to be a niche game that comfortably allows gamers to escape from reality and immerse themselves in this world.

Although the majority of the gameplay was rather repetitive to the point that it felt like a bunch of chores, we wish there could have been better engagement with villagers and guests; and perhaps more locations and side quests (involving dragons and dangerous creatures!) for us to enjoy.

Ironically, thanks to the monotonous nature of this game, this game personally got us through a difficult time ❤ If you’re thirsting for some good adventure and nostalgia vibes, we highly recommend you to check out LITTLE DRAGONS CAFE in your own time (or when it’s half price). Have fun!

— ENDS —

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