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Foodie Roguelite ‘Cuisineer’ Promises Plenty of Cute Girls Doing Cute Things

The best catgirl of PAX East 2022 has arrived.

Pom from Cuisineer stars with bubble tea.

I am a simple woman of simple needs. I like roguelites, I like food, and I like cute girls doing cute things. When I set out for PAX East this month, I figured BattleBrew Productions’ Cuisineer would hit the metaphorical spot. After all, the game promises to combine all three things into an easy-to-learn dungeon crawling experience.

But what I wasn’t expecting was to find Cuisineer’s character design so utterly adorable. After a few minutes playing the upcoming indie title’s demo on the showfloor, I was hooked on the game’s female cast — especially its memorable lead.

What is Cuisineer?

Cuisineer tasks players as Pom, a white-haired, happy-go-lucky catgirl dungeoneer who runs her own small-town restaurant. Pom sources ingredients for her meals by battling random food-themed creatures right outside of town, from chickens to fiery peppers. Then when she gets home, Pom can take stock of her spoils, open up shop, and serve all sorts of meals to her hungry customers.

Part restaurant management sim, part life sim, and part roguelite dungeon combat experience, Cuisineer reminds me a lot of 2010’s sleeper JRPG hit Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale. In that game, players go dungeon crawling as Recette Lemongrass, a moe anime girl who runs a gift shop in her father’s absence — all to cries of “Capitalism, ho!” as she tries to turn a profit despite her father’s debt.

Like Recettear, BattleBrew’s life sim delivers its gameplay through an adorable female character that unquestionably steals the spotlight. But if Recettear merely leans into its cute-girls-doing-cute-things business sim aesthetic, then Cuisineer owns it.

Pom gleefully adorns Cuisineer’s loading screens, promo art, and in-game UI. For example, when players open their restaurant, a brown sign appears on screen with a massive “OPEN” label; underneath, Pom juggles meals while entertaining her eager customers. When the player closes shop for the day, Pom appears once again, this time sighing joyfully to herself as she sweeps, as if she just enjoyed a busy day at work.

If there’s a poster girl for a cottagecore catgirlboss who loves her job, it’s Pom.

Pom is just as cute in combat, too. There, she dashes around with a gigantic spatula, dealing a fair amount of damage to her foodie foes. She can also swing a sharp cooking knife to great effect and even deploy a massive pan as a special attack. It’s the perfect way to kill off a mob of chickens, which are easy grunts players will often face in droves. After killing them, players can cook them later for, well, chicken recipes.

Catgirls, meet cowgirls

But it’s not just Pom that stands out in Cuisineer. Every single non-playable character is given special treatment, from its customers to its shopkeeps. Pom can run off to Briquette, a nymphy butch smith with short shaggy hair, a tank top, and metal goggles, who offers damage upgrades in battle. Then there’s my personal favorite, Zhenzhu. She’s a green-haired bubble tea hostess with a cow bell and cow horns who says “Hello, sugar!” when you buy bubble tea from her — and calls you a “sweet thing” if you make small talk with her.

Oh, Zhenzhu, if only I could buy bubble tea from you every day.

Zhenzhu from Cuisineer offers Bubble Tea.
Image via BattleBrew Productions.

Or from your sister Naicha, who is equally gorgeous.

The cowgirl Naicha from Cuisineer offers the player bubble tea.
Image via BattleBrew Productions

Yes, if Naicha and Zhenzhu are any indicator, then Cuisineer’s women are sure to be a hit with every sapphic who has ever had some complicated feelings for their favorite Genshin Impact character.

As far as roguelites go, Cuisineer’s gameplay is relatively straightforward for the genre. I don’t know if it will necessarily win over players who have had enough roguelike and roguelite games over the past 10 years.

But I hope Cuisineer wins over roguelite skeptics anyway. Because as far as its female characters go, I want to hug each and every of them. And buy all of their food.

(Featured image: BattleBrew Productions)

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Ana Valens (she/her) is a reporter specializing in queer internet culture, online censorship, and sex workers' rights. Her book "Tumblr Porn" details the rise and fall of Tumblr's LGBTQ-friendly 18+ world, and has been hailed by Autostraddle as "a special little love letter" to queer Tumblr's early history. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her ever-growing tarot collection.