Simulation is no longer the go-to genre for joke games: now it's battle royale. A lot of developers have joked about adding a BR mode to their games, especially on April 1, but some just go ahead and do it. Cuisine Royale began as an April Fool's joke mode for MMO shooter Enlisted, and it's now a standalone game (and will remain free during its time in Early Access) on Steam. And it's fun.
Part of the appeal, at least for me, is the lack of waiting around for the game to get started. Cuisine Royale matches support about 30 players at a time and the matches I played began just seconds after launch. There's no lobby for people to jump around in to kill time, no long plane ride or parachuting onto the map: you just spawn on the ground and begin looting. Less tactical than some other BR shooters, maybe, but certainly much quicker if you just want to get going.
Apart from that, it's standard battle royale: search through buildings for guns, grenades, and healing items as a circle closes around the map, herding players closer together. The wrinkle is that all the armor is kitchenware. Pots, pans, woks, cutlery, waffle makers, colanders: as you find them you strap them to your body (you're clad only in underwear otherwise) until you're covered with cooking instruments.
Armor has level tiers, too: at one point I swapped a level one cooking pot I was using as a helmet for a much more durable level three pot. I can only imagine how good it would be to make pasta in.
Apart from the general goofiness of covering yourself with pots and pans, all this kitchenware dangling across your chest, back, and limbs begins to clank and clonk as you run around. This is good for a laugh and can be extremely useful: twice I heard other players clanking and bonking around nearby. In fact, sound in general is very well done in Cuisine Royale. While hiding in a house at one point I heard footsteps above me. Someone was on the roof. I looked up and saw dust trickling down through the rafters as the other player scuttled around. Doors creak loudly when opening and closing, which tipped me off to a nearby player a few minutes later. No doubt all this noise can work against you, too, which may explain why I came across a player late in the match who wasn't wearing even a single piece of armor.
Movement through the world feels good too: vaulting walls and fences is smooth and natural. I'm not too sure about ballistics at this stage: I was popping players pretty good when firing from the hip, but somehow using iron sights felt less than accurate. At one point I emptied most of a mag at a fleeing player's back while aiming through sights and didn't seem to land a hit. Could be my aim was off, or maybe he had a good strong pan on his back that deflected the bullets, though I didn't hear any pinging.
The loot is, uhhh... a bit ridiculous. Perhaps owing to the fact that you carry your collected gear around in a variety of grocery bags (paper and plastic) instead of backpacks, icing someone can result in a massive loot-splosion, with weapon mags, pizza, ham, sausages, pastries, and the mishmash of improvisational cookware armor appearing all over the floor. Cuisine Royale has loot boxes, too, in the form of refrigerators you'll find around the map. No worries, though: the loot is free, and may even contain a few delicious turkeys.
One concern for some players is the use of the Gaijin.net. You're warned on the Steam Store page that it's required to play and it will install itself to periodically update Cuisine Royale and other games that use it (such as War Thunder). Apparently, the Gaijin Agent can be a bit tricky to uninstall, so I thought I'd better mention it here.
Cuisine Royale is free in Early Access on Steam. There are some skins you can buy if you're interested in supporting the devs.