If you have always dreamed of becoming a gourmet chef, then now is the chance to test your dedication in Cyanide Studio’s immersive Chef Life: A Restaurant Simulator. There are a number of responsibilities sure to keep your mind occupied and distracted from the slightly repetitive mechanics – but then, chopping vegetables can only be made so exciting. Despite the UI sometimes being difficult to navigate, the stress of the kitchen is balanced with a pinch of prepping, a dash of chefing and an aftertaste of managing your restaurant.
Chef Life: A Restaurant Simulator is fully prepped and ready to cook on Steam, Xbox, Switch and PlayStation for £34.99 ($39.99).
Read more about Chef Life: A Restaurant Simulator: Chef Life: A Restaurant Simulator Preview – Cooking to the Top (PC)
Story – 5 Star Chef
Chef Life: A Restaurant Simulator might surprise you in the fact that it is a restaurant simulator, meaning you won’t just be dicing and slicing your way to success. Undertaking all the tasks involved in being a kitchen manager keeps you on your toes, as you chose where to buy stock, what’s on the menu and where to assign staff. Alongside of being Head Chef you are also Head Interior Designer, being able to customise your restaurant and purchase more items from the catalog. As the days go by, you’ll meet more people from the local community too, each offering their own advice and challenges throughout.
Every decision made in Chef Life is important. Where you buy your produce will affect the quality of your dishes, which in turn will affect the customers opinion on your restaurant. The menu items on offer set the tone, and the desired atmosphere can be enhanced through mixing up your decoration style. Most importantly is the ability to prep the kitchen efficiently to ensure a smooth evening service. All of these ingredients bind together and create your cooking journey, from a new local diner to a 5 star, Michelin approved, dining establishment.
Gameplay – Cut, Cook, Serve, Repeat
If you are expecting a cooking game in the style of Cooking Mama, then you may be left with Mama’s flaming eyes of failure. Yet, Chef Life: A Restaurant Simulator still has its own unique take on a cooking sim, which makes for time consuming gameplay. Starting off by allowing you to customise your own chef, you’re able to chose not only the dishes, but the looks you serve too. Over time you employ more staff to work the cookline and are able to assign tasks based upon their strengths.
If you’re new to the kitchen then there is no need to worry about jumping out of the frying pan and into the fryer, as Chef Life: A Restaurant Simulator gently walks you through the tutorial. That being said, there is a lot of reading to be done and information to take on board, but thankfully all of this can be accessed through the in-game codex. Eventually you will also be offered a few options to relax your experience too, such as preventing food from burning or never having an unhappy customer.
Cooking is done through a variety of on-screen prompts. Personally I would’ve liked a bit more agency over the analog stick inputs, as once complete they carry out short animations in QTE style. However, when you have multiple dishes to cook at a time, this may come as a blessing rather than a frustration, as perfecting a dish is essential for customer satisfaction. The knife slices through mozzarella as easily as it does tomatoes, and the same input is required to chop as is to grate ingredients. You do have full control over the switching on and off of appliances with R1, which is important as sometimes preheating is essential for a recipe.
Being the Kitchen Manager, it is up to you to place your delivery order. Stock rotation is encouraged, through being able to chose whether you will use higher quality ingredients or prioritise expiration dates. Restocking the fridges is a daily task before you start preparing for the evening. You have time in the day to learn new meal recipes, or simply prep what you can for the menu. Refrigerators can be and should be utilised, as this option ensures smoother evening service. It should also be noted that any ingredients left on surfaces or in your personal inventory randomly disappear when you start service, so saving money for more prep fridges should be a priority.
Graphics and Audio – Kitchen Chaos
Considering presentation is essential when serving up gourmet meals, Chef Life: A Restaurant Simulator plates a fairly basic dish. The animation style is crisp and remains consistent. Yet compared to other virtual cuisine available, the final meal produced is yet to tickle my taste-buds. Though to be fair, this may just be my lack of exquisite taste talking. There is an option to get creative with your plating of each dish, which adds a personal flourish to the food you serve.
I found the accompanying music in Chef Life: A Restaurant Simulator to be distracting while trying to remember the next step of a recipe. The option to lower the volume of music and sound effects is available in the settings menu, so I turned it down to enjoy the kitchen chaos. A personal favourite was the sound of the knife on a wooden chopping board, but there is an array of kitchen sounds to be heard, from the sizzling of sauces to the bubbling of boiling water. The background clatter and chatter adds a nice layer of immersion to the overall restaurant ambiance.
Chef Life: A Restaurant Simulator was reviewed on PS5 with a key provided by Dead Good Media.