Epic Chef: An Acquired Taste

Do you have what it takes to cook? Well I thought I did. That is why we decided to give Epic Chef a try for ourselves. I do not consider myself a kitchen connoisseur by any means, but I do know my way around the kitchen. Although experience or expertise do not matter at all in this family friendly game, less of a simulator style cooking experience, more of an adventure of epic proportions.

The premise of the game despite its namesake is more than cooking, it also has a heavy focus on questing, growing your own ingredients, and maintaining a villa (basically a farm). This is a lot to throw into one game, and hope it all gels together. Sadly you can tell at parts they tried to do way too many things, and simpler could have been better in this case.

" A beautiful island filled with possibilities. "

Epic Chefs opening segment gives the player a taste that the game is going to be narrative heavy on top of the main aspect of the game. From the very first cinematic where your protagonist, Zest (Nice word play), is throwing off a ship that was run by pirates. I thought to myself what could i have done for not even pirates not want me yikes!

As you enter Ambrosia,after having to deal with a guard who just wanted to scam you of some coin. You will be granted your first quest to get to your villa, that you just bought with all your savings. You got it for cheap because it could be haunted but that does not seem to bother your brave little Zest. While you make your way to the villa, following the marker that is on screen you will get to experience a little bit what Ambrosia is about. The game at this point will give you the first few laughs of many, if you have not had a chuckle yet, we are sure you will now. I got to walk past a full street brawl between the chefs on the island, older people sitting on their rocking chairs. Everywhere I went the island seemed energetic, while remaining vibrant and atmospheric. The cel shaded art style only seems to amplify  that feeling of being a very chill and relaxing game. The opening segment, while fun, and full of laughs just seems bloated and can feel a bit of a drag before you get thrown into any actual gameplay content.

After your first night in Ambrosia, you will be introduced to the mechanics of the game, through a nicely implemented tutorial system, that gave us not too much of a tutorial in one chunk.  When it comes down to the  mechanics of the game, outside of the cooking they will seem very familiar to anyone that has played any crafting/farming games along the lines of Stardew valley or My Time In Portia.

" Lots of features to explore. "

Growing your fresh ingredients is as simple as grabbing your hoe, creating a hole and chucking in that seed. Compared to stardew valley for instance you do not need to wait days for crops to grow, everything grows overnight, so you can get things a lot faster. Crafting is just like any other game, collecting the required ingredients and press the craft button.It is Very simple to do pretty much anything in this game(other than the cooking), which is nice because it boosts the laid back feeling the game was going for.I just can’t help but notice even with everything feeling quick, simple to do, it feels more of a chore and slower compared to other farming games, I really think they tried to simplify too much and took something away from the farming we love.

" Cooking Showdowns. "

The cooking is where the Epic Chef spices it up though. The game has a whole unique cooking system that in its core is very solid, Your dish will be graded on three different values. These values change depending on what ingredients are in it, this all before you add synergys into the mix. Synergys will give your dish an added bonus depending on what order you put the ingredient in, or what you pair it with that is already in the pan. The game lets you freely experiment all you like, but at the end of the day it comes down to the synergys and what actually gives you the most points in each category.Once you master your cooking skills and worked out what the best combinations is for you, along with the ingredients that you can easily obtain, It Is time to have fun in the chef battles

There are lots of chef battles for you to take on while in Ambrosia, these are the main bread and butter of the game. When i got into my first one i was entertained and felt a smile come over my face. They make you think you are some kind of cooking show with fans watching, and the critic judges.  The cooking battle is a simple , yet fun part of the game and the rules are simple, highest score wins. You will notice that each battle is different and the judge can actually give more points or less depending on their taste, so watch what the judges have on their taste as this can basically cause you to win or lose the battle. In these battles you can also use your sauces that you craft. The sauces are powerful additions to your dish that can apply debuffs to the judges’ tastes affecting the next dishes that come after, or buffs solely for the dish you are making, the choice is yours. After a lot of failures of not winning the boss battles, we worked out that the sauces are the key to sabotaging your opponents dish or simply increasing your own, once we got the synergys down and the sauces prepared, we won those battles with some simple strategy involved.

Between the chef battles, growing and maintaining your villa and running a restaurant, which is a lot on its own you will have numerous quests to do, these range from fetching people to creating dishes for people. While i enjoyed the narrative and the details that went into the NPCs sometimes the questing felt repetitive, and that means it had a knock on effect on the rest of my tasks, as the clock still runs and with NPCs only about certain hours of the day, i found it hard to fit everything in, especially at the start of the game.

While Epic Chef is a quirky little game, with lots and fun to be had around Ambrosia, and it runs fun, the only issue I had was an invisible boundary box issue(the developers are aware of this) . I still spent countless hours trying and attempting everything and it did keep me invested in the game. While the game is strong in the points it aims for  that’s for sure, I got lots of laughs out of the dialogue and had loads of fun in the battles.I feel like they tried too much and made the game too packed, yet simplified to enjoy certain aspects of the game.

Review
  • An Epic Adventure, Undercooked
    7.2

    “The premise of Epic Chef is solid with a strong narrative and funny story. The cooking mechanics are fun and entertaining, while the other mechanics, leave more to be desired. Even with the chill art style, the game feels like it is trying to much and spreading itself too thin. "

    • Gameplay
      7.5
    • Narrative
      7.8
    • Art Direction
      7.5
    • Sound Direction
      7
Game Details
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