The world of food is not just for stuffing our faces with fine cuisines and quick fast food eats. Nay, the likes of Gordon Ramsey reality TV series and the popular Food Wars! anime series have shown that crafting meals can be both stressful and quite in-your-face. However its endgame always manages to bring forth the most drool-inducing treats that you'd want to eat for days on end. With such an outlook in mind, Trinket Studios has concocted the be-all-to-end-all food battle games to be seen in the Western Hemisphere: Battle Chef Brigade!
Taking place in a fantastical world of magic, monsters, and yummy treats, Battle Chef Brigade puts its focus on a young chef named Mina Han. Her goal is to become a Brigadier, the highest honor a cook can be. In order to achieve such a goal, she will have to face off against many hopefuls until she gets enough wins to face off against three of the Brigade's top cooks. The path to such dreams is not easy, especially when something strange is happening to the monsters surrounding them.
Much of the gameplay aspect is focused on a matching puzzle system similar to that of the brilliant HuniePop and the no-longer-hot Candy Crush Saga. When cooking your ingredients you must make sure that what you're crafting is something that the judge will savor in your favor, especially when it comes to key ingredients and the like. How you gather those ingredients is another story, as you run into forests, volcanic fire pits, and windy high rises to snag vegetables and spices and kill the monsters that you'll serve on your platter. With the clock ticking down each round, the necessity to create the perfect dish becomes more and more challenging.
Playing on the Nintendo Switch, Battle Chef Brigade felt easy on the hands when going back-and-forth between killing monsters and making meals. Surprisingly, for a game so fast-paced, I was impressed by how comfortable it was playing something so competitive. While playing at home or on the go gives you both the same sort of satisfaction, I will say that you'll appreciate more of the visual aspect of the game on the TV than you would on the Switch's smaller screen, especially when it comes to certain facial expressions or creature details you may miss.
Never would I have expected a video game about cooking to keep me at the edge of my seat throughout its run. Whilst embarking in these battles I often found myself running back and forth between slaying monsters and churning them into a hopefully delicious meal. As the challenges went on, the difficulty became higher, with the added need to rid some foods of poisons and having to craft meals for more than one judge making it all the nailbiting-inducing. Often I came across failure, with having to start the round all over again until I got it right.
However the more I learned, the more advanced I found myself becoming. With the aid of side-quests involving helping at restaurants, battling monsters, and creating dishes to find the perfect flavor-enhancer, I started learning how to deal with the added pressure that each new round tossed at me. Never did I feel like the game was trying to punish me for making it towards a certain point; rather, it was merely pushing me to better myself at every corner. Even when I went face-to-face with three of the Brigade's top chefs, it rarely made me feel like I was being pushed down a peg for acting too hopeful.
What also helped is Battle Chef Brigade's presentation, especially with its story. Written by Megan Fausti, the tale of a small-town chef wanting to achieve greatness is one that we've come across in many anime, movies, and TV series. How it stands out is thanks to its imaginative world and wonderful characters. It's when the story suddenly changes to focus on a mystery involving the monsters' weird behavior when it goes down a route that presents many unexpected turns and originality.
Much of the emotional aspect that's showcased is delivered with much power and realism from its voice actor team. Erica Mendez (Kill la Kill's Ryuko Matoi, Love Live!'s Nico Yazawa) does an outstanding job as our main protagonist Mina Han, especially when it came to emphasizing her desires to compete and achieve her dreams. Dave Dixon delivers a strong performance as the kindhearted orc Thrash, who shines brightly when the spotlight is temporarily placed on him later in the game.
Even when the story is over, there is still a lot to experience throughout Battle Chef Brigade. You can hone your customer service skills with Restaurant Rush, or attempt to smash targets a la Super Smash Bros. in the Break the Dishes mini-game. However the real fun is in the Daily Cook-Out, which will give you a task to craft different dishes for the judges during a set amount of time. It's tough, challenging, and overall one of the most exciting mini-games you'll come across in any indie title this year.
- Fast-paced match-three gameplay
- Solid brain-teasing strategy
- Excellent story, voice acting
- ...Story eventually ends?
When I think of the tastiest morsel of indie game in 2017, Battle Chef Brigade will be what'll cause me to salivate every time. Excellent gameplay, fantastic storytelling, and some of the most surprisingly challenging experiences I've come across this year have all been in this exquisite title from Trinket Studios. With Battle Chef Brigade under its knife holster, Adult Swim Games has truly become an indie game publisher not to be reckoned with.
Promotional consideration provided by Jacqui Collins of Adult Swim Games. Reviewed on the Nintendo Switch.
Background Noise: The Chemistry of Common Life by Fucked Up - In the mood for a tasty "Royal Swan"? Well say the "Magic Word" to the hardcore punk kings of Toronto as they melt your faces like the finest cheese fondue with their critically acclaimed and Polaris Prize-winning 2008 sophomore release. With frontman Damian Abraham (who has starred in his own food show Super Snack Bros.) roaring with emotion and attitude throughout its hour-long run, Fucked Up crafted what many considered to be the newest turning point in the punk scene, signaling something far bigger and better for the music world to come. Even if you have "No Epiphany," you'll be chomping down on those "Black Albino Bones" as you swallow down one of the greatest hardcore albums of all time.
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