Battle Chef Brigade Review: Duel of the Iron Chefs
Kalvin Martinez / Nov 27th, 2017 No Comments
Capturing the magic and creativity of cooking is a hard task for a video game. Many cooking games focus on a simple approach to cooking both common and elevated dishes, but amount to following traditional recipes. The creativity and hectic nature of cooking is lost.
Battle Chef Brigade never loses sight of creativity when it comes to cooking. The dishes you cook are fantastical, requiring ingenuity and flexible thinking. It requires you to think about procuring your ingredients and then combining them to create magic.
Victusia is a land renowned for its top class chefs. These well-trained, tough culinary warriors are experts in hunting down the monsters roaming Victusia and turning them into delicious dishes. Getting into the Battle Chef Brigade isn’t easy, however.
Prospective chefs must compete in a grueling tournament where they must gain seven victories over other eager chefs. Vying for a coveted spot in the Brigade takes cunning, creativity and temerity, something both Thrash and Mina Han hope to prove they have.
Mina Han was languishing cooking common dishes in her family’s restaurant. While she was pleasing the restaurant’s customers, she wasn’t being challenged or pushing her cooking forward. When an opportunity presents itself, she runs off to the Capital to enter the proving tournament in the hopes of breaking out of mediocrity and becoming a battle chef.
Out of her rebellion, she impresses both her peers and instructors, but also makes a few enemies. While her status in the tournament continues to rise, a misunderstanding undoes all of it. In a dark moment she makes the wrong decision and has to make amends for her mistake.
During her repentance, she discovers a terrible disease taking hold in many monsters around Victusia. This blight is making the ingredients taken from the monsters dangerous to cook and causing many citizens to take ill as a result.
This provides an opportunity for Mina to redeem herself and find a way back into the tournament with the help of the friends she made along the way. However, discovering the truth behind the blight may be more than any of them bargained for.
The beauty of Battle Chef Brigade’s narrative is how it intertwines personal arcs with a larger story. In both Mina and Thrash’s stories, you get a good sense of their character through the approachable concept of the proving tournament. While both characters try hard to become part of the Brigade, they go through a swath of emotions, allowing the player to root for them when things go well and commiserate and empathize when they don’t.
Battle Chef Brigade’s structure is fascinating as it mostly focuses on the story of Mina bookending the campaign. For a sole chapter, we learn more about Thrash, his background, and what motivates him during the tournament.
Thrash is a memorable supporting character during Mina’s story, but he becomes a sympathetic and endearing character in his solo chapter. It is a testament to the storytelling that Thrash’s chapter is not simply an aside, but helps build the larger narrative.
To a degree, Battle Chef Brigade leans on some tried and true tropes, but it elevates them by making sure its characters resonate with the player and their struggles and triumphs are relatable. It is a well seasoned and balanced story with all its ingredients harmoniously coming together to create a world and characters that leave you wanting seconds.
Chop, Season, Cook
Battle Chef Brigade is not simply one thing. It is a few things combined together to create a satisfying entree. Part beat ‘em up, puzzle, and cooking game, it takes the core mechanics of each genre and blends them together to create addictive gameplay with a surprising amount of depth.
There is a slight partition between each genre, but it never feels disjointed. The core conceit is cooking battles between Mina or Thrash and another chef. Each battle has a main ingredient and a time limit to finish the dish. One to three judges will judge your dish on a variety of criteria, including use of the main ingredient, complexity, and their personal taste.
At the beginning of any battle, you have no ingredients. It behooves you to enter the field and hunt down some ingredients. This is where the beat ‘em up comes into play. In order to collect ingredients, you need to use your combat prowess — melee attacks or magic — to slay monsters and harvest ingredients from their remains.
Hunting is a key component of any battle, but it is time consuming, especially since you have a finite space to hold ingredients. Managing when to hunt and what to hunt is super important. If you end up falling in battle, you’ll lose the ingredients you’ve collected and you’ll have wasted valuable time.
Whenever you feel you’re set on ingredients, it is time to start cooking. Here is where you need to start combining your ingredients to begin your dish. Are you going to focus on the main ingredient of the battle or use it as an accompaniment? Knowing how to combine your ingredients will influence the complexity of your dish. The more complex, the higher your final score will be.
It is also during the cooking process that the match three (or two or four) puzzle element comes into play. By combining the gems inherent in your ingredients, you’ll form stronger, bolder flavors. Matching three gems will form higher tiers until you max them out. Maxing out gems increases your dish score and speaks to the technical mastery and flavor of the dish.
After a certain point, you’ll gain access to combat, cooking and cookware equipment. These items help improve your ability to hunt and cook. Different cookware can lower the barrier to match higher gems, cut out unwanted gems, or slowly cook and improve gems. Knowing what equipment to bring is a vital strategic component to get a leg up in battles.
At a specific story point, you have to worry about fragile gems that break, bone gems or poisonous gems. It changes how you have to prepare your dishes. When using ingredients with these gems, you have to be more careful and cautious when prepping. This adds a complexity to the puzzle element, resulting in a much more creative approach to how you use these ingredients and your cookware loadout.
Every battle is a hectic rush. You need to manage your time between each of the elements of gameplay. It is easy to do when you’re only making one dish to satisfy a single judge’s palette, but becomes harder and more difficult when needing to make two or three dishes. Strategy is an important part of gameplay. Knowing where to spend your time and what dishes to sacrifice will help you win.
Battle Chef Brigade is a truly delightful experience. It wins you over with its gorgeous graphics, touching story, and addictive mechanics. The game overflows with heart and charm, making it is hard to put down.
Battle Chef Brigade was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the publisher
tags: Adult Swim Games , battle chef brigade , Battle Chef Brigade review , review , Trinket Studios