In the land of Victusia, fearsome monsters plague the land. Long ago, the Battle Chef Brigade was established, hunting down these creatures and turning them into delicious cuisine for all to enjoy. This tale revolves around Mina Han, a budding young chef working in her parents restaurant with grand aspirations of one day becoming a brigadier. With her parents against the idea, Mina runs away from home to take part in an annual competition held by the brigadier academy. This competition tests potential new recruits skills and weeds out those unfit for their ranks. Trouble soon strikes though, as a blight begins to affect the beasts, tainting their meat and making them more hostile than ever. Can Mina and the other brigadiers stop this blight and save the people of Victusia?
Battle Chef Brigade has absolutely wonderful music. It has a truly beautiful score that matches the story and action moments perfectly. The sounds are equally as impressive, with knife attacks having a satisfying shing noise, to the beasts growls and chirps. Every noise this game makes feels like it belongs in this world, and helps to immerse you further in the wonderful story. The voice acting is also stellar, and I actually wish they recorded more lines for the day to day non story required sections.
Visuals & Performance
The art style is absolutely stunning. They have gone for an anime look, in the same vein of a slice of life Ghibli film, but with a more hand drawn sketch look to it. It is very effective, and every character has a very memorable design. The beasts you hunt look equally impressive, with each environment having a distinct look and feel to them. Even just wandering through town is a joy on the eyes, and I found myself admiring this game’s beautiful art almost as much as I layer the game. The only knock against the look is that of the match 3 game, as it has a real generic candy crush look that doesn’t fit the overall style of the game. That said, it did draw focus to the action, which is needed in those games, so I can understand why it looks the way it does.
The game also runs beautifully, keeping a solid frame rate throughout. I never encountered bugs of any sort, which shows that the level of polish is tremendous. Having that amazing art style run fluidly helps draw you into the world even further.
Battle Chef Brigade is a game with a very unique premise. The main crux of the game is these big tournaments that resemble the iron chef competitions. You have to make a meal to satisfy judges and use a special ingredient dictated to you at the start of the match. Each judge has a particular taste preference you must adhere to in your preparations of each dish. When the contest begins, you have 8 minutes to gather your ingredients, cook your dishes, and present them to each judge for evaluation.
The game has three main gameplay segments which it puts together in rather clever ways. The first is the way it delivers the story to you, and that is reminiscent of a graphic novel with some light exploration. A 2d perspective is used here, with you wandering through the environments much like you would a side scroller. You talk with NPCs, take up side quests which also act as tutorials for the game’s many systems, and buy new items to help you in your contests. Most of the story cutscenes takes place in these sections, and is where you get to know all the wonderful cast of characters this game has to offer. There is voice acting in the cutscenes, but you will have to read when wandering around towns and engaging NPCs in conversation.
The second gameplay style revolves around collecting your ingredients, and is what differentiates this game from what other cooking competitions you see on TV do. To collect your ingredients, you must exit the kitchen and battle fearsome monsters and vicious plants to gather the raw ingredients to cook your elaborate dishes. The battle system takes place on a 2d plane, and is surprisingly deep, despite how simplistic it’s controls are. You have a basic attack button, and pressing a different direction will cause you to use a different attack. This system allows you to string together some satisfying combos and really rewards experimentation. You can also throw daggers and use magic, which both use up a mana bar. Buying items from the store can also grant you new abilities or add effects to your attacks, such as slowing down enemies hit by daggers or extending the length of your magic. Be aware that the creatures also attack and feed on each other, and birds can snatch away ingredients before you can collect them.
After collecting your ingredients, you then rush back to the kitchen to engage in the third gameplay style, that of the cooking mini game. This is a basic match 3 style puzzle game, where you must match 3 of the same coloured gems to upgrade the gems level to a max of level 3. There are 3 main gem types, red fire gems, green earth gems and blue water gems. Each judge has a preference for their meals, be it earth, fire or water, and you must try and create more level 3 gems of their preferred flavour in the meals you present them. Make sure not to forget the main ingredient, because one of the judges scolded me the one time I didn’t add it. My fragile ego has still yet to recover from that one…
From the store you can purchase new cooking utensils to help with your dishes. You can get pans that specialise in one of the elements, which will allow you to level up gems by only matching 2, with the catch that you can’t match any other gem element in the pan. Luckily you have 3 utensils active at a time, allowing you to move your meal between whatever pans you have equipped for the match. Eventually more than just the main elements appear in your meals, such as bones. When you match 3 bones, you will create a rainbow gem, which acts as a wildcard and can be used to match with any other gem type. Only have two greens? Match them with the rainbow gem and now you have a levelled up earth gem.
Besides pans, you can acquire other utensils, such as chopping boards and ovens. The chopping board allows you to cut out gems in your dish you don’t want, which is helpful in making room for more ingredients. The oven slow cooks gems, and will level up gems left in the oven over time. These become helpful when the blight strikes, as you can use the oven to cook a completed dish a bit longer while you cut out diseased parts of your food in the next dish.
Speaking of the blight, that adds a whole other level of tactical thinking when it comes to your cooking. With blighted food, some of the elemental gems will be cracked, and will break if you move them too much. To combat this, you can level up the cracked gems, which will fix them up good as new. You will also see disgusting purple pods that look like sick stomachs. These need to be removed from your food before serving, as they will make the person eating it sick. This is achieved by cutting them out with the cutting board or matching 3. Matching 3 has the added bonus of any gem you put in the place you matched the yucky stomachs to level up without having to match it. Boy does this whole thing get complicated.
Important Side Quests
Luckily between matches you work odd jobs to make money. These jobs serve as brilliant little tutorials that teach you new mechanics and get your brain thinking about the match 3 system in different ways. There is a cooking job which teaches you how to use new utensils and how to get the best score with limited resources. The hunting job introduces new battle stages and techniques to make you a more effective hunter. Finally there is a speed cooking job, where you are forced to move gems into a certain order rather than match 3. This one was the most helpful as it got my brain thinking of how to get gems into different positions, shaving off a heap of time I was wasting in studying what I needed to do. Now I don’t even think about it, and react on sight alone.
Is Battle Chef Brigade worth your hard earned cash? Considering this game is on the expensive side of indie titles released on the eShop, it is understandable for someone to be apprehensive about making a purchase. That said, this game is more than worth the money. Battle Chef Brigade has an engaging story, brilliant mechanics and a gameplay loop that will have you playing it again and again.
Fun and engaging gameplay
Beautiful art direction
Match 3 art seems out of place
Ending slightly disappointing