Sometimes, you love a game too much before you actually play it.
This was the case for Little Dragons Café, a game I purchased for the Switch a while back. I’d bought it on sale since I wasn’t sure I wanted to pay $60 for it, and had my hopes pinned on the adorable dragon that follows your protagonist around!
Folks, I made a mistake, and here’s all the reasons why.
I thought I had good reasons to pick up Little Dragons Café, so can you blame me?
For one, Little Dragons Café was in part the work of Yasuhiro Wada, a powerhouse behind the Harvest Moon games. Yes, that Harvest Moon. You know, the wildly popular farming sim games? Basically, if anyone had a strong sense for how to make a restaurant/dragon-raising sim work, I hoped it would be him.
Plus, it’s just so conceptually cute! You play as one of two twins who take over the family restaurant when their mother falls ill. With your new dragon friend following you everywhere, you’re tasked with finding a way to heal her and keeping the restaurant afloat! The two tasks feed into one another, and I wanted to see exactly how that worked in terms of story. What are the lore reasons? What kind of cute ending will this have? I mean, it has to have a cute ending, right?
I have no idea what the ending is like, because after seven or so hours of gameplay, I was bored out of my skull.
Somehow, Little Dragons Café manages to grind an adorable concept into the ground. The repetitive controls kill any joy you might take in running the restaurant, and the way time progresses in game is a drag. You either spend the entire day gathering ingredients and don’t help at the restaurant, which means you don’t progress in the story, or you stay in the restaurant for minimal story progress while your ingredient supplies begin to run dry. There’s no clean way to balance the two, especially for so little reward after each in game day.
Plus, everything is…painfully forgettable. The world lacks variation that makes individual locations stand out, and there’s nothing to situate in any useful context. Why is there a tiny restaurant on an island, and where the hell are my customers even coming from when there’s no village in sight for SEVEN HOURS of gameplay?
Meanwhile, the characters are two-dimensional at best, essentially caricatures, and if we learn anything about them later in the story, it doesn’t happen soon enough to make me care. I mean, look at this review. I intentionally chose not to finish a game because it was so boring. This coming from the person who won’t even DNF bad books because they have the world’s strongest completionist tendencies!
Unfortunately, I feel like that tells you a lot about how poor my experience with Little Dragons Café was. 😬
I wish I hadn’t bought Little Dragons Café, but I’ll take some comfort in buying it while it was on sale.
It’s a rare review where I refuse to recommend a book or a game or a show, but this is one. I don’t think it’s worth the $20 I paid, let alone it’s full $60 price. It lacks a lot of features that would make it more engaging, or, if it does have them, it hides them behind repetitive play that is more frustrating than rewarding.
If you really want to know more about Little Dragons Café, you could visit the game’s official site for a little more information. That said, I can’t recommend it in the least. It’s proven itself dull despite all its colorful art, and more of a chore than a delight. 😔