I’m not sure anyone who played Chicken Police thought, “You know what this game needs? A café simulator spin-off!” But lo-and-behold, that’s exactly what Zipp’s Café is: a café sim that has you preparing food and drink for the weird and wonderful characters of Chicken Police’s noir world.
Is it something that needs to exist? Not at all. But I’m glad that it does: there’s a serious charm here, serving up drinks in a dark, seedy world. Where your typical game in this genre is set in a light and fluffy world, here the first character you meet happily swears at you. You’ll be serving cops and criminals alike and while the story is engaging enough by itself, I’ve had a whale of a time putting together the creative drinks and dishes on Zipp’s Café menu.
You’ll need to prepare everything step-by-step, and in this anthropomorphic world the coffee shop’s menu isn’t quite what you’d expect. An espresso with meat powder in it? Sure thing. Totally regular. Each drink that Zipp serves has its own unique name and when someone orders one, you’ll get the recipe to look over. After a quick tutorial, you’ll be left to your own devices, adding ingredients and pouring just the right amount of coffee and water each time.
It’s very easy, and there’s nothing particularly challenging here. Even if you do go wrong, the game doesn’t seem to care unless you really mess up. I accidentally added four drops of honey to a recipe that asked for only one, but I still scored five stars. You can take your time, too. There’s no time limit to preparing a drink, and your customers aren’t going to up and leave if you aren’t quick enough to get their orders to them. Diner Dash this is not.
What does feel a tad more pressured is the act of preparing food. Here, you’ll need to heat up pans, add a choice of butter or oil, then cook your item of choice: bread, eggs, hot dogs or (fake) meat patties. You’ll need to ensure food is cooked before you serve it, but wait too long and it’ll burn. It’s still rather straightforward as long as you keep an eye on the timers for each pan.
Of course, the story of Zipp’s Café is going to resonate with you more if you played (and loved) Chicken Police. While the gameplay here is completely different, its story fits right into the lore of the world – and in fact acts as a introduction to the upcoming Chicken Police: Into the Hive. It goes without saying that if you’re planning to dive into Into the Hive in 2024, you’ll benefit from playing this first.
But even if you’re not familiar with Chicken Police, Zipp’s Café is worth paying attention to. Its story is relatively easy to follow, and even if you won’t be as invested as someone who’s already experienced the franchise, its well-written dialogue, excellent characterisation and gritty vibes are enough to get your attention. Besides, the art of preparing food and drinks is just plain fun.
Short but entertaining, jump into Zipp’s Café for the noir vibes and wonderful characters, but stay for the utterly enjoyable drink and food-making. It’s not going to be for everyone, but it’s a neat little twist on the café simulator genre, and it’s always a treat seeing an existing IP turned on its head in such an interesting way.