Team 17 bring cooking fun to consoles and PC but will they serve up a fulfilling meal or leave you with a bad taste in your mouth? Find out as I head into the kitchen with our Epic Chef Review.
Epic Chef Review (Nintendo Switch)
Title: Epic Chef
Developer: Team 17
Publisher: Team 17
Genre: Adventure, Life Sim
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Steam/PC, Xbox, PlayStation 4
Release Date: 11/11/2021
Welcome to Ambrosia
Main character Zest is thrown overboard although not into the sea but rather onto a pier by the crew of a ship he had been sailing on, although his board of passage had not been paid and he was a stowaway. You learn through the opening animation scenes that Zest is without a bean to his name although that wasn’t always the case.
We learn that Zest did have money but he bought the deeds to a villa near Ambrosia and that is where he now finds himself but his new abode is both haunted and cursed. To be honest the story doesn’t make that much sense but the whole game is a somewhat madcap affair which is apparent from the narrative and there is are some really amusing moments although on Nintendo Switch the text is pretty small so you may sometimes miss the joke.
Stardew Valley Meets Animal Crossing
Epic Chef does involve cooking but it’s a game that is more than the sum of its parts as you need to work the land, chop trees, grow produce, build and cook your way to becoming a top chef and restauranteur. I can honestly say that when I started playing the game I was expecting something more like a single player ‘Overcooked’ game but there is quite a bit of hidden depth here.
When it comes to gardening I have never really been much of an Alan Titchmarsh, a bit of a tit maybe, but fear not because there are instructions along the way to guide you.
What you can’t do is just plant and hope because there are limits on how often you can harvest your crops as well ensuring you are getting the right ingredients for your meals. The management of the land is in many ways a larger portion of the gameplay than the cooking itself.
Vigour, Spirit and Sophistication
With the cooking, the key to success is knowing the three aspects that make a good meal and they are vigor, spirit and sophistication. Combining ingredients that also have those values will increase the rating but it isn’t that simple. The flavours of the foods affect the rating which means you need to experiment and learn which varieties of food go best together. You can occasionally get lucky but the game makes sure that you need to think about what you do and how you do it whether that be tending your crops of making the meals.
Who’s The Boss?
Cooking games are not really where I would expect to find boss battles but in Epic Chef they exist in the manner of cooking fights which are akin to the food judging sections of Psychonauts 2. The better the combinations, the higher the rating and when the judges give their scores the highest rating wins. It is another example of why you need to understand how the mechanics of the game work. For what I thought would be a fairly simple game there is a lot to learn and master. In general there is no problem with learning as you go but at times it does get overwhelming and might put some gamers off. You will need patience and persistence with this one.
Nobody Likes Bugs…
Well, that’s not strictly true and I don’t mind creepy crawlies but what I am a talking about here are annoying little bugs that pop up every so often in Epic Chef. When in the villa there are moments when the camera distance mean locating the stairs or next room feels a bit like a chore. Also there are certain dead areas where I couldn’t get back to some of my vegetables and also occasionally I would need to press the ‘A’ action button twice for it to take effect. None of these are game breakers but rather just fiddly and annoying when they do come along and patches will surely rectify these issues.
Not a Full Roast But Still A Decent Meal – Epic Chef Review Verdict
Epic Chef is a strange game really. It sits somewhere between a cooking game and land management sim and has a wealth of activities for many hours of entertainment. At times it can feel a little too slow paced but I feel it is an ambitious effort to do something a little different with a tested formula and in the most part it does work well.
It is not a game for everyone but if you like this type of game and you can overlook it’s shortfalls, you will be able to have a lot of fun with Epic Chef.
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