A competition styled cooking game couldn’t release at a better time. The anime, Food Wars, is back for its third season this fall and even the prestigious Iron Chef has returned from a 3-year hiatus to make viewers mouth water in envy. Well now players can prep their palates for a new kind of gaming cuisine with the release of Battle Chef Brigade for Nintendo Switch and PC. Set in the fantasy world of Victusia, players take the role of Battle Chefs, talented culinary warriors who hunt and cook monsters to protect the world from harm.
Battle Chef Brigade primarily tells the story of Mina Han, an ambitious young woman who dreams of one day joining Victusia’s Brigade of Battle Chefs as a travelling researcher. Fed up with her mundane life of helping out at her family restaurant, Mina runs away from home to participate in the annual Proving Tournament in the capital city to prove her worth as a talented competitor. Realizing her dream won’t be easy though as Mina must win seven cooking battles in the battle coliseum and defeat three proven brigade chefs to claim her title. What ensues is a 6-8 hour campaign filled with beautiful artwork, memorable characters and a unique gameplay concept that will hook players in instantly with its fun mechanics.
A typical battle in Battle Chef Brigade starts with the chairman announcing who the judges will be as well as the secret ingredient monster that the chefs must try to incorporate in all of their plated dishes. The twist judges put on the battle is that each one of them wants their own dish and desires different flavor combinations of the elements earth, fire and water. Catering to each judge’s palate will result in extra points for your dishes and to apply that extra layer of needed pressure, every battle is timed dependent on the number of judges at the table.
With the theme established, chefs are off to hunt ingredients and cook their meals. At its core Battle Chef Brigade is an equal mix of 2D Character action and match three puzzle styled gameplay. Hunting monsters as Mina is a lot of fun because of her diverse move set of slashes, kicks and wind magic that can all combo together into a flurry of attacks if timed properly. Once a monster is slain, they can drop different parts of their body to be used as ingredients. Slaying a large dragon for example results in players obtaining multiple parts, such as the heart, the liver and delectable steaks. Different monsters also interact with other ingredients in the environment, like caranha plants sprouting harvestable wings if they eat some meat or birds laying flavoured eggs if they eat vegetables or fruits. Each of the three explorable biomes feels like its own ecosystem and is host to its unique set of monsters and harvestable ingredients that players need to familiarize themselves with in order to create the best possible dish. The catch of course is that you only have a limited amount of inventory spaces to hold all these ingredients, so it’s wise to make multiple hunting trips to prep before cooking.
Once players feel like they have enough of the themed ingredients it’s time to cook up a storm in the kitchen. Using a mix of pans, ovens and boards, players ideally want to build concentrated layers of flavor utilizing the limited 4×4 grid space and score tons of points. To build these layers, players need to match three of the same colored taste gems together to form a level 2 gem, and then collect three level 2 gems to produce level 3 gems, which are the best gems for both points and judges. Because players have only 12 grid spaces to work with, it’s smart to only put in a couple ingredients at a time and reduce them down into better flavoured gems. Of course each ingredient has its own mix of gems and shapes, so chefs constantly have to be wary of what they’re putting into their dishes and how they can match them together to make the best use of their space.
What I just described in both the cooking and combat sections of gameplay are purely their basic forms. As players proceed through the story of Battle Chef Brigade and go on daily quests of puzzles, hunts and diner dashing, they obtain money that can be used to purchase new cooking equipment, new skills and new proficiencies to add more depth to the experience. Personally, I loved using multiple pans and an oven in my battles. The specialized pans allowed me to reduce down gems easier and the oven was used to enhance the flavoured gems of one of my dishes while I was working on the next one for another judge. By not incorporating a cutting board into my cooking however, I had no way to reduce down harmful ingredients like poison and risked ruining my best gems. This just shows that Trinket Studios has nailed their theme by marrying together these two concepts and providing players with even more depth to create their own style of cuisine.
Even after completing the campaign of Battle Chef Brigade there is still daily fun to be had when players participate in the daily cook-off, which has multiplayer leaderboards. In this mode players pick their preferred playable character and are assigned a random mix of equipment and items to put their skills to the test in new and challenging ways. I would have loved to participate in actual multiplayer competitions live against another player or a friend, but this format of competition still provides similar enough results.
My only disappointment with Battle Chef Brigade is that I wish there were more characters at launch to play as. Currently players will get to experience the main campaign as Mina and one hefty chapter in-between as the lovable family man orc, Thrash. Where Mina’s combat focuses on speed, Thrash focuses on heavy damage, fire spells and even a transformation state. I just would have loved to see more variety when I see amazing potential playable characters like the undead necromancer, Ziggy, the winged elf Kirin, and the short but burly dwarf, Cezar. After talking with Trinket Studios’ President, Tom Eastman, these characters are still planned for post-launch release, but in what capacity we will have to wait and see.
Battle Chef Brigade is a fantastic addition to the Nintendo Switch’s lineup of indie titles that everyone should give a try. The game ran beautifully in both portable and docked modes at a crisp 60 FPS and I never encountered a glitch or bug to ruin my experience, showing the studios talent to provide a properly polished game. I fell in love with this game during my time at E3 and now that the final product is finally here, I can safely say the game not only met my expectations, but surpassed them as my new favourite Indie currently offered on the Nintendo Switch. Vive La Brigade!