Who wants to be a catgirl apprentice baker helping out in the world and discovering delicious new recipes? After playing Dragon Caffi, I do!
The plot of Dragon Caffi is fairly simple, as protagonist Margo, you need to go and help out friends and neighbors in order to collect recipes, make 3 Star dishes and then trade them back for 100 Sky Train tokens. There's no real overarching plot other than Margo's desire to ride the Sky Train, and the game is far more focused on atmosphere, puzzles, and mini-games than any real characterization. Margo herself is upbeat and cheerful, determined to a fault, and friendly. She's a great protagonist and easy to root for as you help her amass recipes, dishes, and tokens.
Dragon Caffi's atmosphere was what initially drew me to the game. With whimsical, Studio Ghibli-esque designs, and a variety of eclectically styled characters populating the world, it's easy to see the appeal. The colorful style spans across all the different neighborhoods that Margo visits in the game, from Sandy Shores to Haunted Hallow and Rainbow Ridge, each area has a unique theme and new quests to explore, but still feels like it fits coherently into the world as a whole. The neighborhoods themselves are also fresh enough to keep the game from feeling stale as you keep playing, as you gradually unlock new neighborhoods as you progress through.
I'll also admit that, while I love the design of the Dragon Caffi itself, a flying house on metal legs looked extremely close to Howl's Moving Castle, and I was afraid that the entire game would be a style copy. Fortunately, it isn't. The simple, 2D animation is clean, crisp, and suits the story down to the ground, while the character designs are all unique. From dragons to standing axolotls to little birds with kerchiefs on and whatever the heck Phineas and his friends are supposed to be, Dragon Caffi's world is populated by a diverse group of locals. While it still retains the same sort of Studio Ghibli whimsy, Dragon Caffi easily sets itself apart from inspiration. Also of note is the incredible designs for all of the baked goods. No two are the same and they're all dragon-themed and absolutely gorgeous to look at and wish you could eat.
Completing quests in Dragon Caffi gives you new recipes, and the quests themselves are a diverse bunch. Sometimes they're as easy as talking to a character and telling a silly story, sometimes it's a fetch quest and other times it's running around completing a puzzle. This does keep them from feeling stale, but it can also be deceptively difficult to complete some of them. The guy who wants to trade you a statue piece for a “unique doorstop” isn't asking much, but finding the unique doorstop is a quest all on its own. My favorite was the recurring quest with Phineas and friends where you would have to play hide and seek with them in every new neighborhood they appeared in, which was great fun.
Cooking in Dragon Caffi is its own mini-game. Once you get all of your ingredients together, you'll need to complete the game to actually cook them. There's four strings and you need to press one of four buttons when the ingredients are over the cauldron to drop them, and you also need to avoid the bad ingredients that the zombooshies are trying to drop in to mess up the recipe. The mini-game itself isn't that hard, but the fact that there is only one difficulty and that a single mistake can lower your dish from three stars to two stars, necessitating the re-baking of it, can feel overly punishing for what is otherwise a lighthearted game. There is also a similar musical mini-game that has the same difficulty issues, but thankfully you only need to play that one a handful of times.
The biggest issue that Dragon Caffi has, other than the cooking difficulty, is the number of bugs in the game. Considering it's a two-person game studio it is to be expected, but a few of the bugs make it impossible to complete quests, such as the stepping stone puzzle that doesn't stay lit up long enough for it to be humanly possible to complete, or the apothecary not recognizing your spooky spell which you need to complete the medicine. Already some bugs have been patched up, so I'm hoping these are all taken care of in time.
Dragon Caffi Review | Final Thoughts
Dragon Caffi is, on the whole, a fun game. The biggest stumbles it faces are a lack of difficulty settings and quite a few bugs, but nevertheless, Margo's journey is a fun one. For those looking for a fun cooking game with an imaginative feel and an array of different quests and mini-games to partake in, Dragon Caffi is well worth a flight.
TechRaptor reviewed Dragon Caffi on Nintendo Switch with a copy provided by the developer. The game is also available on PC.
- Whimsical World and Aesthetic
- Variety of Fun Sidequests and Mini-games
- Plenty of Bugs
- Lack of Difficulty Settings on Mini-games