How to cook fresh Battle Chef Brigade
1 cup of visual novel storytelling
1 cup of action RPG gameplay
1/2 cup of puzzle game
2 tablespoons of cooking show
a pinch of lovable characters
tension to taste
Feeds 1-2 hungry gamers.
In a creative gameplay world, perfectly blend the visual novel storytelling and the action RPG gameplay. Slowly sift in the puzzle game slowly enough so the mixture doesn't harden too much too fast. Add in the cooking show for flavor and the lovable characters for sympathy. Play for 6-8 hours, then cut it into pieces to enjoy with a friend later!
In all seriousness, this RPG released by Trinket Studios in November of 2017 really is something to be played. I'm normally not a fan of visual novel storytelling, but it is broken up by enough fun side-scrolling action RPG gameplay and puzzles that I don't mind it at all. I loved the world, I loved the characters, and I loved the gameplay. My only complaint is that it was a very limited scope in a very large world that I would have loved to see more of.
Battle Chef Brigade Deluxe is available on Steam for $19.99
Long ago, the populations of regular indiginous wildlife of Victusia was completely decimated by monsters of all sorts. From the ashes of this world rose a new profession mixing hunters, soldiers, and chefs. They are the Battle Chef Brigade, and they are here to save your village from the monsters and then cook a feast with their delicious flesh!
You are Mina Han, a girl from a small town who works in your parents restaraunt. However, you have always dreamed of joining the Brigade. Now, with the proving tournament in sight, you run away from home with your parents flour money to make it happen!
One of the big assets of this game is its story, gameplay world, and characters. Everyone is memorable, everyone is distinct. Yours is not the only story going on here, just one of the more pressing of importance. What about that orc who wants to be a grand baker? Or the Dwarf with the crush on the restauraunt owner? Or the weird guy with the ghost? You get glimpses into their lives through the game but you almost want to play spinoff games centered on them. In fact, you do get to play an entire stage as another character, Thrash the Benevolent Berserker, and his story is fun and heartwarming! It all gives the impression of a living, breathing world as opposed to just a stage for a few characters to act on.
I guess if I had to make one critique, the villain of the story is pretty weak. He isn't really hinted at until about midway through the game and when you finally meet him he isn't really that intimidating. He doesn't do anything evil in front of you and he doesn't look all that menacing. I guess he does have a bad guy monologue but it feels almost forced. Luckily, the tension of getting Mina into the brigade is enough to keep the story moving along. As far as antagonists go, however, this is one of the weaker ones I've seen.
The main gameplay is broken up into two sections: an side scrolling action RPG and a puzzle game, both of which are seamlessly attached. Everything works in tandem to ceate an experience that's tense but never about to induce an anxiety attack.
Hunt for your meal!
Before you cook your meal, you have to gather your meal. Fortunately, the wilderness is as bountiful as it is terrifying. A lava-swimming hydra, boar-like creatures the size of rhinos, and oddly furry dragons are just a few of the creatures waiting to get a bite out of you before you can get a bite out of them. You can only carry so many ingredients with you, so you have to be careful what you grab, but you can always run back out to the field pretty easily. The combat is typical 2d side scroller with an attack button, a magic button, and a special move that all have variables depending on if you're hitting a direction button at the same time. The combat is pretty smooth if a bit awkward on the keyboard. I got used to them eventually, but I did also find that a controller was far more intuitive. The movesets do also depend on which character you're playing, which is a choice you really only have in non-story modes.
Mix it up!
The cooking process is a match-3 puzzle game. You stir flavor gems in a 2×2 square until three are matched, then you just have a second before they all combine into the next level of flavor gem. This is pretty basic earlier on, but gains more difficulty after the first part of the game as poison and cracked gems are worked in. The former will promote gems in your recipe if you match 3, but will explode and crack adjacent gems if you stir them 3 times. Cracked gems will shatter completely if stirred 3 times, but some ingredients come with cracked gems at higher levels immediately, so you had better like them where they're at because if you move them, they're gone.
In addition to this you have a plethora of equipment at your disposal to help you with all sorts of things. My personal favorites were the cutting board, which helped me get rid of some of the undesirable flavors in dishes (which, in hindsight, may have made the game too easy…), and the slow cooker, which slowly promoted taste gems over the course of the match without them having to match first. It took a while, but I found if I took in other equipment that gave me ingredients straight away I could make a great recipe in very little time and use that time to cook an amazing dish for another judge. Speaking of…
You have anywhere from one to three judges, each of which will have a different preference for their flavor. One judge may want water, while another may want earth and fire. These are the flavor gems they want to be the most abundant in their dish. If it's just one that's not too difficult generally speaking, but if you have two or three being demanded then you need to be sure all of the flavors have the exact same amount of high leveled gems or else you risk a lower score. Ther eis also a themed ingredient which must be included in the dish, or else you lose a crazy amount of points. On the other hand, if you have a skill manual you can gain crazy points from doing certain things. My personal favorite was the vegetarian book. You could cook only with your theme ingredient and vegetables, no other meats allowed. It was pretty easy to accomplish and without it I would not have won that last cook off.
In order to buy equipment, you need money. However, you don't get money through the main game, you need to progress through three mini games in town: a cooking game for an alchemist, a hunting game for a hunter, and a matching game for the local restauraunt. The former two are just one half of the mechanics of the cook offs, but the last one is something more unique. The pans in the restauraunt don't get hot enough to combine and promote taste gems, so you instead have to make a certain pattern for the customer before time ran out. This is all random, so the difficulty ranges from easy enough to hard and stressful. Eventually the rush got to be too much for me and I decided to stop doing them since I had the equipment I always used already.
What about the leftovers?
When you're done with the story mode, never fear, because this game has more replayability which I slightly touched on earlier. There's a splitscreen competition mode, a free play, and a competition of the day in which you can compete against a global leaderboard for one big cooking contest! In that last one, you get to pick your character, but all your equipment is decided for you, so be sure to plan as best you can! These game modes help it keep some replayability after you've finished aside from just playing again on a harder difficulty.
Graphics and AUdio
This game looks and sounds amazing, seriously. Each character is distinct vocally and visually and that just adds to their lovability. The music is fantastic and fits into the ambiance well, and the choppiness of the visual novel static imagery is replaced with smooth animation as soon as it's time to start fighting. The backgrounds are beautiful, the monsters are all unique, I just loved every aesthetic this game has to offer.
If you couldn't tell, I loved every second I spent with Battle Chef Brigade. Did I have any problems with it? Honestly, not many. Aside from awkward keyboard controls and some equipment that takes some challenge out of the game (at least on normal difficulty), I really have no problems with this game. Sure the story is short, but the other game modes give it replayability. Yes the visual novel storytelling isn't for everyone, but it's broken up with fast-paced action and tense cooking battles. The keyboard controls are awkward, but a controller will fix that and if you don't have a controller you'll get used to the controls after a few botched recipes. The premise is a tad ridiculous, but the story and the lovable characters make it believable. The cons nowhere near outweigh the pros. Don't take my word for it, fire up your skilleT and make your way to the Kitchen Colluseum to see for yourself.
|+ Interesting premise||– Lackluster villain|
|+ Smooth combat||– Awkward keyboard controls|
|+ Lovable characters||– Some equipment makes the game too easy|
|+ Tense but not anxious gameplay|