Befitting its premise, you could probably describe Space Food Truck by its ingredients. A dash of Out There-esque random events, a pinch of crew management and ship upkeep reminiscent of FTL, a side of card game and deck-building, and a touch of RPG elements and party synergy. It's a deep complicated game with a steep learning curve that's thankfully made bearable through its charming atmosphere and engrossing mechanics.
Meals On Thrusters
Your job is simple: deliver delectable dishes to different planets across the galaxy. Now actually accomplishing that isn't so simple; Space Food Truck demands that you juggle many objectives at once, as you must play cards to command each member of your cute alien crew, put meals together, charge your FTL drive, and repair your ship after it's damaged through accidents and interstellar hazards.
Each character, from the scientist to the chief, has their own unique cards and skills that come into play in specific scenarios. If your door is damaged, move the engineer to that room. Need to upgrade your crew, use the scientist. And so on, playing cards from your deck to place characters in different rooms and perform actions.
It's this constant test of resource management, smart use of your cards, and adapting to ever-increasing odds, that makes Space Food Truck such a compelling challenge.Shields Down, Captain
But beyond that turn-by-turn gameplay and choosing cards, other underlying systems offer depth and subtleties. You can swap cards between characters if they're in the same room. You'll need to upgrade the different areas of your ship, as well as its shields and life support. Random events like an asteroid impact or damaged electronics will force you to react and repair.
Random is the key word there. Success or destruction can very well hinge on luck: if a helpful or dangerous event occurs, what cards are drawn, if you have the means to move a character.
But even before you're either frustrated by that randomness or enjoying a lucky streak, you'll have to learn how to play, and that may be Space Food Truck's biggest failing. Relying on videos and a How To Play section rather than a guided tutorial, figuring out how to play will take much trial and error, many deaths in the void, before you grasp the game's intricacies.
You can play locally, either solo to learn the ropes or passing the device between friends, or online asynchronously. Of course, you may all end dying together for a while before your delivery business becomes successful.
But stick with Space Food Truck, past that obtuse early learning curve and the potential for bad hands and poor rolls of the dice, and you'll find an enjoyably complex strategy game that has both charm and challenge in equal measure.