I used to complain about the massive load of simulator games that shuffled their way onto the Steam page a few years back. Things like Surgeon Simulator and Goat Simulator, while extremely different from one another, sounded to me as if they sold simply for the sake of being random (or “randum” for any of you pre-teen readers), and I figured that was far from a solid reason to buy a game. While my complaints were solidly planted in self-justified logic, I couldn’t help but start to backpedal when Power Up to Maximum’s Tea Party Simulator 2015 was plopped onto my desk for a review. Sure it acts quirky just for the sake of it, but damn was I surprised at how much fun pouring imaginary tea for a scrutinizing bear would be.
We Can Hide Inside My Imagination
Tea Party Simulator 2015 starts players out in a single room with scant decorations and a horribly ugly sofa set. With a single hand, players paw their way to a photo album only to discover themselves transported to an imaginary world with all the fixings for a tea party. Whether you find yourself in space, on the beach, in a plane, or in the middle of the zombie apocalypse, you always have a dazzling array of silverware and treats at your disposal, and it quickly becomes apparent that your one and only objective is to serve tea and treats to the stuffed bear in front of you. Successfully completing all of the tasks will land you right into another level, and it soon becomes apparent (through unlockable items that appear in the main room with the photo album) that these jaunts into dreamland are a way to cope with crippling debt, being fired, and an addiction to medication.
Call Me a Buffoon One More Time
With a clumsy hand, map-related intrusions, and the constantly cruel insults of the ursine dinner guest, players must prepare and serve libations as delicately as possible. Controlling the single, hairy arm takes a certain amount of dexterity that veterans of Surgeon Simulator may possess, though the slightest twitch in a single direction could still send the table and silverware flying across the map. Many of the objectives are as easy as moving an object from one side of the table to another, while others, such as actually preparing the tea or slicing cake, require a few extra steps to perfect.
If you’re not boring and prefer exploring over following orders, Tea Party Simulator 2015 has more than enough for you to do. Bedazzle your bear-friend with hats and sunglasses, slash the stuffing out of him with a chef’s knife, or throttle him with your bare hand, the possibilities are endless! There are also several hidden actions that can be unlocked through pure experimentation (such as making double tea *wink wink*) that can will earn clever players achievements that would otherwise go unseen. If following directions and exploring bores you to tears, you can always go the route of Bruce Banner and simply hulk out on your surroundings – some of the most fun I had was when I became too frustrated and just chucked an entire table’s worth of kitchen supplies around the room like a silver-back gorilla having a temper tantrum.
So Many Eggs, You’d Think It Was Easter
While the maps only extend to the length you can stretch out your hand, there still seems to be an awful amount of stuff to touch. The number of items available to interact with is staggering, and some of the environmental physics, like the pitching of a plane or the zero gravity of space, offer an interesting twist on tea-based navigation. Apart from the otherwise pretty backdrops and delicately crafted set pieces are the numerous pop culture references. While I’d hate to give too much away, players can certainly expect to encounter Easter Eggs from Alice in Wonderland, Dr. Who, Alien, and more. They aren’t always obvious on the first go-around, but if you’re anything like me (my long lost twin, perhaps?), than you’re bound to repeat each level at least a handful of times.
Something Something Something Tea Bag
Though I had a great deal of fun slapping my teddy with a herring (no, that’s not an Urban Dictionary entry…yet) and throwing hot cups of tea around, the five levels – or ten, if you replay the same maps with a special Japanese tea set – ran by far too quickly. The sequence of events for serving tea and treats was difficult to master at first, but the list of to-dos never changed, so all I ever compensated for per level were things like oncoming zombies and meteors. Repetition is great if you can stick me in a bunch of different maps, but if all they had were five locations to work with, why not change up the sequence of events and force me to spend more time figuring things out? It just seemed too short and simple of an experience after the first run, with my horrible dexterity proving to be the hardest part of the game to master.
You can check out the first two levels above, and a collection of screenshots below!