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Startenders VR Review
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Startenders Review – A VR Bartender

A Bartender from OuterSpace?

Let’s get started on this Startenders Review.

What is Startenders?

Startenders is an Intergalactic Bartending Game. Prepare crazy space-themed drinks for many different customers in this drink-making simulation VR. Your goal is to create bizarre beverages for colorful customers in the hope that no one notices you haven’t the slightest clue what’s going on.

Let loose with a cocktail shaker, a collection of mad machinery, and an abundance of crazy ingredients to mix, shake and serve your way across the universe.

Is the drink mixing crazy cocktails fun?
Startenders — Launch Trailer

Foggy Box Games

Who Makes Startenders?

Startenders VR is created by Foggy Box Games. Founded in 2017, they are a small developer from Bristol, UK. The two founders came from Playwest – the University of the West of England’s games division.

They have previously made a simulation game for console and PC, but Startenders is their first VR game.

Which VR Headsets is Startenders On?

You can play Startenders on PlayStationVR, and Meta Quest 2.

PlayStation vr e1614481141175 - Startenders Review - A VR BartenderLogo Quest 1 - Startenders Review - A VR Bartender

Startenders Tutorial

There is a detailed tutorial that will walk you through all parts of the game.  This includes a little bit of storyline as well as how to actually make the drinks, use the machines, and interact with the customers.

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You will also meet R-I-L-E-E your Robot companion here, who will introduce you to the game. Rilee will also show you around the Habitat area, how to upgrade, and how to purchase additional ingredients.

I do wish there was a little bit more of a tutorial here or more of a gradual onboarding into the main campaign levels. It goes from extremely basic drink prep to something that gets quite complicated pretty quickly. Several of the mini-games are to help you get the skills required, but you need to go looking for that. If you forget how to use a machine, there is also no help without redoing the tutorial again.

Startenders Gameplay Review

In Startenders you seem to have been abducted enrollment into the Startenders Academy. You will serve aliens’ bizarre beverages during your shift. If you do well you will make good tips that you can use to buy various upgrades to make your shifts easier. There are 32 ingredients, 13 garnishes, 12 machines, and 3 cups. This makes for 100’s of different recipes from simple to complex.

Each shift in all the game modes is procedurally generated. That means you can play the same levels over and over and each time you will have a new experience.

The difficulty progresses automatically as you are able to create more complex drinks. You also have the ability to choose the difficulty of levels you have previously done – easy, medium, hard.

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There are a lot of interactions in Startenders. Big levers to pull, large red buttons to push, and big hands-on shelves to pull up and down to adjust to your perfect height.

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You can throw the bottles around the place and they generally will respawn. A few times, I noticed that this did not happen. I couldn’t find a bottle of something anywhere because it was stuck under the floor.  Pretty frustrating to get to the point where a bottle is needed and you don’t have it because of these glitches.

scftmy - Startenders Review - A VR Bartender

There are many different game modes available to play during Startenders. The campaign has a pretty funny story for you to explore and work through.

If you are feeling extra creative you can create your own in the mix section. Once you make your drink masterpiece, you may actually see your custom drink appear in future in-game orders. What a neat addition.

Upgrades in Startenders

Like many simulation games, there is a wide range of upgrades that you can purchase to make your life easier when standing behind the bar. A nice change here is it is not simply a button push to upgrade.

You have to go to the upgrade area and then using a blueprint 3D print and put together the various pieces of the upgrade using VR to place the pieces where they need to be.

It’s a fun little addition and adds another element to the game.

Habitat Area – Lots of Mini-Games

In between shifts, you can relax in the Habitat main area. This area has all kinds of interactive things to explore. You purchase additional ingredients and do your upgrades here. There are also a bunch of different fun little mini-games to play.

There is a basketball-type game. You shoot the ball and it floats around as it would in space. Your top score is stored for future basketball sessions.

There is also a cartridge game that you can purchase as you go through the levels. These offer various questions and exams to help you with your space drink knowledge.

Startenders Graphics and Sound

The graphics in Startenders are all cartoonish, yet realistic looking. There are many different custom alien types as you progress through the levels.

The machines are sci-fi themed and what I would expect from working in an Intergalactic Space Station.

scftmu - Startenders Review - A VR Bartender

Where Startenders really shines in the number of details that have gone into the drink preparation. Adding certain liquids will cause the drink to steam. Scrubbing the dirt from the glasses will leave the brush dirty and need to be cleaned before the next one. Various items will make squishy noises and squeals. It is very immersive.

Startenders Multiplayer Experience

There is currently no multiplayer experience in Startenders.

There is a daily challenge level. Everyone who plays this level will get the exact same drink orders. Everyone gets exactly one chance to compete for a high score against the world. It resets every day.

StartendersVr7 - Startenders Review - A VR Bartender

Although this daily challenge gives you a replayability reason, when you are just starting out this mode is not great. It uses every possible machine and drink ingredient in the game. When you are new you will have trouble making the requested drinks. It still can be something to try to see how much more you have to unlock in the full game experience.

Unless you place in the top 6, It also oddly does not show where you score in the daily challenge. This gives you no idea how far you are away from hitting those top spots.

Party Mode in Startenders Review

There is a party mode in Startenders called Pass the Headset. This allows you to play a level, get a score, and then pass the headset to someone else in the room and they get a chance to play the same level and then you can compare your scores.

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PartyMode - Startenders Review - A VR Bartender

TForTeen - Startenders Review - A VR Bartender

Who Will Enjoy Playing Startenders?

Startenders is rated T for Teen. There are fantasy themes as well as the Use of Alcohol, and Crude Humor. This game starts off pretty easy but quickly ramps up in difficulty. There is a fun sci-fi story and repetitive tasks.

What Games are similar to Startenders?

Startenders is like other cooking simulators or repetitive task games. Similar VR Games would be Cook Out A Sandwich Tale, Job Simulator, or Horror Bar VR.

How long is Startenders?

There are about 5 hours in the main campaign storyline if you can complete the levels. Some get quite tricky and will probably take you a lot longer. Getting all the upgrades, daily play, and re-visiting levels is definitely an option offering endless hours of gameplay.

scftmr 1 - Startenders Review - A VR Bartender

Can you play Startenders Sitting Down?

Startenders can be played sitting down – well sorta.  As of the most recent update this week, the developers have realized that there was an issue with seated play. They have added an additional accessibility option under the settings menu.

There is also a red level you can use to pull down or up the stations so they are easier to access while seated. Even with these new updates, I had a bit of difficulty getting to all the items while seated. You may need to stand up to reach a bottle for example.

I also found that if I dropped something on the floor I had a hard time picking them up. Startenders seems to prefer that you play standing up. This area could definitely still use some work from the devs, perhaps a proper “seated” option. This is really too bad as it is definitely a game I would prefer to play sitting down.

SittingVR - Startenders Review - A VR BartenderStandingVR - Startenders Review - A VR Bartender

Does Startenders cause motion sickness?

NoMotionSickness e1614128840883 - Startenders Review - A VR BartenderThere is very minimal in-game movement in Startenders. When you are in the main habitat area there are only specific spots that you can teleport to with the joystick. There is no free-motion movement.

When you are working the bar, there is no in-game movement. You will be turning to your sides in real life to grab the items from around the bar though.

Startenders should not cause any motion sickness issues.

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