MM BRAINS! While no innovator of the genre or GOTY candidate, Dead Hungry Diner is a relatively fun indie arcadey game which manages to be a competent casual Diner Dash clone. While not much at the core of this game is different from its predecesors except for a ghoulish Plants vs. Zombies-esque theme, it does everything it promises to deliver extremely well. Due to how well the game is executed, I see no reason to not recommend this game to fans of the time-management games or as an introduction to those who haven't.
OVERVIEW: To describe the game in a single sentence, the objective is to seat impatient customers, take their order, gather a brain-matter-like meal, serve it, collect your tip, and clean their table all while managing to keep them happy and not eat each other. As an arcadey title, it's a nice game to play when you only have a few minutes to play a game. At the same time, it's addicting enough to make you not want to stop. The game starts easy and progressively adds more elements - such as different monsters - to complicate your simple task as you progress worlds. As your progress, new abilities are unlocked to aid in your venture such as cheering up customers, making them more patient, and increasing your waitresses speed. At the end of a 90-120 second stage, your performance is evaluated based on your ability to serve customers quickly, chain together like-kind actions (ie cleaning multiple tables one-after-another), and place customers at tables that monsters of the same class previously ate at. Afterall, no respecting Zombie would want to eat at a table a werewolf left his hind furs at! While absolute perfection is not necessary, witty use of abilities, knowledge of chaining actions, and placing monsters at correct tables will be necessary to achieve a 3-start rating. However, a 3-star rating is only a concern if you're achievement hunting.
Dead Hungry Diner does have a dozen-or-so achievements (and one hidden) to keep you trudging along. The achievements are pretty generic (such as obtain 1000 starts) and will take multiple playthroughs to get 100%. In addition, it does have Steam Trading Card drops that should give you a perfect understanding of what the game is about while obtaining them. Finally, the game has multiple playstyles including a survive-until-death mode and an uncaptivating story mode that will add a little charm.
SOUND & ART: As I mentioned prior, the game has a well-polished Plants vs. Zombies inspired look. While the game has only a full-screen and (I think) 1024x768 resolution, the graphics do look decent - albeit a bit blurry on a 1920x1024 monitor. On the other hand, the games' repetitive music is probably worth muting after 15 minutes and throwing on a Helloween album for a better experience. The interface is very basic, but does the job it needs to do with little complaints.
RATING: 6/10. Note that: I'm a "5/10 is an average game" kind of guy where a 5/10 means 50% of games are worse. This game is above average, but definitely nothing special. Due to the game being fun, playable, and polished, it'd be an injustice to not recommend this game or to consider it worse than average. While I'm beating the dead horse by once again saying it's been done before, it has been done before. But Dead Hungry Diner has has been done well in a charming way.
PRICE: I was able to pick this title up as an "undesired title" in a Game Bundle (I believe Blink) for around $0.50. By undesired, I mean I had very little interest in it prior and probably wouldn't have gotten it unless it was from a bundle or free. Seeing as the trading cards were worth significantly more than the game, I chose to keep it and grab the trading cards while I slept. So mind you, 8 or so hours of my gameplay was just the game sitting open unplayed. I'd say the game is worth $0.50-$1.00 if you're craving some Diner Dash, but I personally wouldn't drop $6.99 on it myself. Despite having little interest in the game, I did have enough fun with it to warrant a buy if you can get it for under $1, but avoid it otherwise.