Diets & Deities is an Aussie gem giving rhythm and recipes

Posted on February 20, 2024

Diets & Deities was a stand-out on the show floor of PAX Australia 2023, with its eye-catching colourful vibes, fun rhythm gameplay and heartfelt cultural themes and recipes. It’s available today, and coming from Darwin-based studio Larrikin Interactive, it’s not to be slept on.

Playing as Nephele, you’re the first (and potentially last) deity created in a millennia, and you’ll need to dance and dodge your way through forgotten cultures, meet other deities, collect ingredients and craft recipes of long-lost dishes. Your main challenge is the Colonel, KFZ, whose cheesy and greasy fast food has taken over the universe, and it’s up to you to save the day using the help of some culinary pals along the way. It’s an intriguing and admittedly cute premise, with diverse areas and characters inspired by Larrikin Interactives team’s background, including Australia (with First Nations creatives), Bali, Brazil and China.

This mix of cultures makes for an eclectic style where each of the deities and environments has its own flavour, which is apparent as soon as you first load up Diets & Deities. It contains a relatively simple gameplay loop; walk around the map, chat with characters, and then jump into song. It’s a bit of an anti-rhythm game from there; you’re not quite hitting notes to the beat like in other games from the genre, more so avoiding obstacles and collecting ingredients by moving your character across each of the vertical lanes. It’s a simple premise, but effective in its execution.

Music is the highlight of the experience; locally composed and produced with cultural instruments and sounds, it adds a serious level of authenticity to Diets & Deities. The opening region you’ll play through for example is First Nations, with didgeridoos set to a techno backdrop. The composers have managed to weave in cultural instruments into some sick beats, making for a mashup that had me bopping my head throughout each stage.

Diets & Deities

The reward for completion (apart from a ranking) is a recipe inspired by each culture, with the full ingredient list and methodology so you can create these dishes yourself at home. It’s a nice touch, and many of these dishes I’d expect players to not have heard of before, so I’m hoping it inspires; I’m already keen to make my own Chicken Saltbush Koftas with Native Basil Tzatziki, or the Ayam Kuning, an Indonesian yellow curry that has my mouth watering.

Designed to be “wholesome and non-competitive”, you’ll lose lives if you hit an obstacle, but your hearts regenerate relatively quickly, so you’ll only hit a fail-state if you hit many in short succession. With 16 tracks to play through, that only allows for around 90 minutes of playtime, without the ability to really go deep within the story and cultural themes that are presented. A lot of the characters are well-written, and Diets & Deities maintains a tongue-in-cheek quality throughout, all in the name of being a culinary champion… but it feels slightly underbaked when the credits roll so quickly.

Diets & Deities

Even so, Diets & Deities is a joy to play through and experience. It’s rare that a game combines so many cultures and does so successfully, and food has a universal understanding that is hard to argue with. With a short runtime, it doesn’t really have the opportunity to dive deeper into its story, and the wholesome vibes might not gel with rhythm-game aficionados who are smashing high scores on Beat Saber. While perhaps not a filling main course, Diets & Deities is a lip-smacking appetizer that offers a tantalising taste of the game development that is brewing up in Darwin.

Diets & Deities is available now on PC.