In Marenian Tavern Story, which we recently reviewed, players help a young woman, her brother and their butler/caretaker turn an abandoned tavern into a thriving restaurant to break a contract with a poverty god. What follows is a game where you go through routines to gradually get better and become more successful. But what is especially handy about Marenian Tavern Story is how the game does not hold you back. Instead of keeping you along a rigid path, there is a little room for leeway.
To understand how Marenian Tavern Story can open things up, first people need to understand how the cooking system normally works. When you are in the tavern, Patty can choose a Recipe Cooking option to make dishes. The easy way to prepare for a service shift is to go with recipe. That means getting recipes by talking to NPCs you meet, checking bookcases or purchasing them from shops. Then, when you have collected the proper ingredients (by finding them in dungeons, getting them from your farm or buying them) and have the proper utensils (from buying them in shops), heading to the recipe list will allow you to automatically make food when all of the necessary materials are available.
But, Marenian Tavern Story also offers you an Original Cooking option. Here is where the game really opens things up. All recipes have up to four ingredients and one type of tool. While you may not have officially acquired the recipes for things yet, there are lots of items that can still be made even if you haven’t found the in-game trigger that unlocks them in your list. Let’s use Pizza Dough as an example. Pizza Dough can be made from the very beginning of the game, since it is easy to acquire/buy both flour and olive oil and you automatically start with a wooden bowl. If you go to Original Cooking and pick these ingredients and tool, you can make the product. The item is added to your list, since it is a success, and you are now set with another possible product.
This means you can also gain access to more complicated recipes more quickly. For example, you can get access to thinks like ham and bacon fairly early in Marenian Tavern Story. Thanks to purchases around town, you have all the things necessary to make an array of different sorts of sandwiches. But, you don’t have these early on. Fortunately, the game even encourages you to experiment and try to piece things together. When you have all the ingredients on hand, but not the official recipe, you will see hints after heading to the recipe section. These can make things pretty obvious. For example, the Ham Cheese Sandwich hint showed the bread, ham, and butter I already used with bare hands for the standard meal, leaving a blank rather than noting the obvious inclusion of cheese.
The best part about this is, it means you can increase your Tavern Rank faster and avoid pointless grinding. The game is giving you the hints and means to advance, if you are able to common sense your way through certain recipes. For example, the first Tavern Rank challenge requires you to feed the hungry Poverty God and pass 2570G in sales. By exploiting this Original Cooking recipe option, the first service after getting that task, I was able to make 7640G. You can exploit dishes that are more in-demand for the season and popular among guests to drive attention and open wallets.
Marenian Tavern Story feels like it respects your time, as a result. It knows that there are some recipes where you might have some idea of what needs to be done. Like most everyone would realize the Mushroom Pizza recipe would need cheese, mushrooms, pizza dough, a tomato and an oven. Instead of locking things off, it rewards ingenuity. It is something that is very much appreciated as you attempt to help Patty and her family find their footing.