Starting your own restaurant is a difficult venture, as it’s not just about cooking. You have to hire staff, purchase food supplies, and come up with a menu. Chef Life: A Restaurant Simulator puts you in the hot seat, being the owner of a new restaurant. You are responsible for deciding what goes on the menu, the food that comes out, and the preparation for the next day.
There’s a lot that can go wrong if you aren’t paying attention, as each step involves effort and care. Smooth operations won’t happen at first as you stumble through the beginning of the business. But if you are willing to persevere and practice, you will find a fun experience that immerses you in the restaurant business. You can easily spend hours refining the process, similar to professional chefs who stake their living on the success of their restaurant.
Story – A New Restaurant Opens
You begin the game as an aspiring restaurant owner. Working with a friend, you are putting the final touches on your new restaurant, which will open the next day. It’s the first step on your journey to the restaurant of your dreams, and there are many challenges ahead.
There’s nothing remarkable or extraordinary about the story. It’s similar to other cooking/restaurant simulation games such as Cooking Simulator. While you can decide what direction you want to take as an owner, it doesn’t result in a remarkable tale. When the doors open and business begins, you are an entrepreneur trying to make your business a success.
It’s not bad to have a generic story for a simulation game, since the focus is on the gameplay experience. But with the inclusion of the Michelin Guide, it does feel like there is potential for a unique story beat. It isn’t investigated much, which does feel like a big miss.
That being said, running a restaurant is difficult enough as it is, and you won’t think about its direction just yet. Being an owner responsible for the growth of the business does put the story in your hands. While simulation games often put you on one path, there is some deviation with Chef Life: A Restaurant Simulator. Your ambition will determine the direction of the business, and what you experience.
The beginning focuses on getting familiar with the restaurant business, eventually diverging depending on your intentions for the future. There are no fantasy elements or anything you wouldn’t encounter in real life. You’re thrown into the restaurant business and experiencing the drive for success, just like a real life chef.
Gameplay – Cooking & Management Combined
The main draw of Chef Life: A Restaurant Simulator is the combination of cooking and restaurant management. Other cooking games like Overcooked focus purely on the cooking aspect, adding variations to keep player interest. Here, the business side of running a restaurant adds a dose of realism. While it’s not an exact copy of being an actual restaurateur, it’s close enough to deliver an immersive experience.
Cooking – Controlling The Presentation
Cooking a dish has many steps, such as getting supplies and preparing the stations. Each step requires you to press buttons or move items to the proper section. It’s not intuitive at first, which will cut down on your speed. This can be frustrating if you are cooking quickly, because getting dishes out on time is vital. But the frustration is part of the experience, because making a top-class dish isn’t simple. The time of tossing food on a plate and immediately going out is over.
A big part of Chef Life: A Restaurant Simulator is food presentation. While all dishes have a default presentation, you are able to customise the dish’s appearance after it is done cooking. This puts you in control and makes you feel like a professional, allowing you to design dishes as you please. It’s not a simple throw-in mechanic; how presentable a dish is will affect its final rating.
It’s a struggle to master all aspects of cooking, but it’s a challenge that is intriguing for players. If you enjoy cooking simulators, the ability to alter a dish’s appearance is fantastic, especially because it has actual value. Going through the multiple steps sounds exhausting, but it’s a great simulation of what actual chefs go through. Being a Michelin starred chef is not easy, and the experience doesn’t shy away from this truth. If you enjoy cooking, it’s easy to spend hours just practicing your cooking and plating skills. The reward is a dish that is well-received by customers, though you must move onto the next one quickly.
Management – The Realities of Business
Unlike other restaurant simulators, the management side of owning a restaurant is brought to the fore here. The quality of your dishes is important, which means you must ensure that you have the supplies to create them. At the same time, you have to ensure you have enough funds to pay other expenses.
This doesn’t mean you must forgo staff or another extreme. But you need to consider what your menu will be, what you can afford, and what dishes you can create. It’s an interesting perspective to deal with the limitations of your supplies. Rather than giving you unlimited supplies, you must purchase your own stock and work with it. You must think like a business owner and chef, and it’s an interesting challenge to work with. It demands planning and ingenuity, which can be a lot to balance for a casual player. But if you stick with it, the results will be satisfying as you work your way up the ladder.
Audio & Visuals – Michelin Style Food & Atmosphere
With fine dining as a potential route, Chef Life: A Restaurant Simulator has great food even at the beginning. There’s great attention to deal with the food, and it looks mouth-watering when the final result is complete. Even if you make your own edits to the overall design, the individual items never lose their professional appearance. The equipment and human characters don’t get the same attention to detail, but everything looks realistic.
The music is mostly in the background, with the sounds of cooking taking the forefront. You don’t have the complete reality of a professional kitchen, but there are realistic sounds when you prepare the food. You do feel like you are preparing food like a professional, and there aren’t unnecessary sounds or distractions. Sound effects are more prominent than the music in your mind, but that illustrates how much focus is spent on food preparation.
Chef Life: A Restaurant Simulator was previewed on PC with a code provided by Cyanide.