App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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The restaurant business tough, and it sure gets tougher when you run one out of an intergalactic space truck. One Man Left Studios tries to capture the difficulties of running such a business in Space Food Truck, a delightfully quirky, co-op, deck-building game. While the mechanics and concepts in the game are completely sound and enjoyable, some rough edges around playing the game, particularly in multiplayer, put a damper on things.
The premise of Space Food Truck makes it sound like it's primarily a cooking game, but it's actually more about managing your space truck than cooking. Although preparing and delivering dishes to planetary systems is your main goal, you have to avoid attacks, repair your ship, resolve ship crises, research new technologies, and more to make sure you can do so.
Since this is a co-op game, your ship is comprised of four crew members (Captain, Scientist, Cook, and Engineer), and each one has specific goals to focus on throughout the game. These members have their own decks with specialized cards to keep them focused on their own roles, but everyone still has to work together if they want to survive.
At any given point in a game of Space Food Truck, your general phases of play stay the same. You start by drawing a hand from your deck. Then, some kind of random event occurs that you may have the option to resolve with some of your cards or suffer the consequences. Once that is done, you can play action cards, provided you can pay its “Power” cost, which is an attribute printed on every card.
After you'd played everything you want to play, you'll then go to a store page where you have to buy at least one card that you can afford given the total worth of your cards, which is another attribute printed on each card. Then, you'll discard your remaining hand, redraw cards, and pass your turn off to the next player.
Using this system, every crew member has the ability to craft a specialized deck to help them perform their jobs better, provided they play their cards right. All in all, it's a really neat idea that works well.
Houston, we have a problem
The main downfall of Space Food Truck is that–despite being a co-op game–it's very hard to play with other people online.
When you search for online games, they aren't particularly easy to join because of how confusing it is to confirm that you are “ready” to play. Once you get into a game, things don't get easier for a variety or reasons. In particular, it's hard to tell what other players have done during their turns, bouncing between multiple games is harder than it should be, and the notification system is borderline broken.
Luckily, Space Food Truck is still fun to play offline, where you choose to control all of the crew yourself or pass-and-play with others. Things like the galactic map could still use some refining no matter what mode you play, but everything works well enough.
The bottom line
Space Food Truck is a great digital board game with a deeply flawed multiplayer mode. If you were looking for this to be your next multiplayer game, I wouldn't recommend Space Food Truck, but if you want a good and charming deck-building game, it's worth picking up.