[Content Warning: Discussions of abduction, murder, gore, and body horror]
Congratulations! If you’re reading this, you’ve chosen, or have been chosen, to work for the
Steeze Pizzeria Stezzoni’s Pizza family. Here at The Steeze Stezzoni’s Pizza, our pizza is our pride, so buckle up and RUN read this manual carefully to ensure that you deliver the perfect pizza every time! And, for you code monkeys out there, don’t forget to check out our website, full of information, activities and secrets fun pizza facts!
No Delivery by oates is a horror game with procedurally generated dungeon diving, a fantastic aesthetic, engaging combat with a focus on symbiotic resource management, and the occasional burst of dark humor that perfectly encapsulates the suffocating experience of working the night shift alone at a fast food establishment. Whether you’re cleaning tables, crawling through the ventilation shafts, or turning on the industrial walk-in microwave without adequately ensuring that it’s empty, every moment of its gameplay and atmosphere will leave you with a beautifully crushing sense of dread.
Drawing heavily from stylistic influences like Darkest Dungeon and Five Nights at Freddie’s, No Delivery feels at once unique and familiar, surpassing the atmosphere of its influences throughout. You’re tasked with performing the usual night-shift duties, cleaning tables, picking up garbage, taking out the trash (whether it likes it or not), and ensuring that the arcade machines aren’t experiencing any fatal errors.
Not to be let down by its roots, No Delivery takes the common trappings of the RPG and makes them wholly its own in the same way Lisa: The Painful or OFF once did, presenting an experience far fresher than any of the pizza on offer. The combat system, drawing heavily from the Earthbound series, always feels fresh and compelling, and the horror aesthetics evoke a gritty VHS style familiar to any Puppetcombo alum, but there’s so much more to this game.
No Delivery is dense, offering multiple endings, a compelling mystery story of the background of this dark pizzeria that’s delivered in expertly measured drips and drabs, hidden rewards in the form of phone numbers and TV channels that garner you extra wages or reveal more about the world at large, and even extra content external to the game itself. This experience is a multimedia one, spanning an external website that hints at its dense worldbuilding with mock training videos, a PDF Employee Manual, and even more secrets you’ll have to find for yourself.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had an experience with a horror game as compelling as No Delivery and even longer since I’ve had one that I’ve played to completion in one sitting (I’ve got the certificate to prove it). Every element of the game itself adds to the sense of unease, keeping you enthralled and wanting to know more, even if it leads you somewhere you shouldn’t be. Between the fantastically unnerving enemy design, leaning heavily on body horror and…puppet horror? you’ll find yourself charging ahead, even as everything in the back of your mind tells you that this is a bad idea.
For anyone who’s worked late night food service, you’ll find yourself possessed of a familiarly unnerving sensation, the same one might feel in a cramped manager’s office with their back exposed or down a dark corridor after taking the wrong way to the supply room.
Over time, the fear shifts from the body-horror monstrosities, twitching body bags, and entities beyond mortal ken to the pizzeria itself, leaving you with the sensation of being deep in the belly of a terrible beast that has long-since swallowed you like so much pizza. In the immortal words of famous rat entrepreneur, Charles Entertainment Cheese, a good pizzeria is much like a rat trap – it contains cheese, it entices you inside, then snaps shut on you. Just like the pizzerias of long-lost nostalgia, full of arcade cabinets and cheap slices that entice you to enter so as to divest you of your allowance, No Delivery beckons you into itself with the offer of a compelling horror game, only to draw you ever deeper into its darkest recesses with promises of knowledge well outside of your pay-grade.
Do yourself a favour, order some takeout entertainment and lose yourself in its endless labyrinths; my 8 hours falling down the rabbit hole of all the game and its supplemental material had to offer was far better spent than any adolescent coin plinked into a pizzeria’s arcade cabinet.
What? No. There is No Delivery.
Mx. Medea is a writer, artist, and editor who spends most of their time drawing things with squares and buried under a small pile of endless paper copy. When not working they can be found playing everything from interesting indie fare to oldschool games. You can find them, their art, and their opinions @Mx_Medea on Twitter.