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With the ever-growing Indie game market, it’s going to be tough to stand out. One of the worst things you can do is stand out with a gimmick, but only relying on the intrigue the gimmick brings. It’s a fast-moving market, and if you don’t grab players right this instant with the gimmick, and said gimmick being well implemented, then you fall into the risk of being left behind. You need to go full tilt on your concept, and hope it works, is fun to play, and stands out among the rest of the indie games coming out. For example, today’s review is of a game that I think stands out among the entire indie scene, Battle Chef Brigade. Developed by Trinket Studios, and published by Adult Swim Games, Battle Chef Brigade is a Kickstarter success story, and is easily one of my new favorite indie titles. It’s a good sign that I have been addicted to this game. While playing much bigger games on the side, like God of War 2018 and other indie games like West of Loathing, they have had to be put on the backburner for Battle Chef Brigade.
You play as Mina, a young woman who dreams of joining this massive cooking tournament, and becoming an elite member of the Battle Chef Brigade. Along the way she will meet new friends, like the best orc in all of video games, Thrash. She will have to face other chefs, including him, and find out about a mysterious illness that has set upon the kingdom. The story itself is kind of like a condensed shonen anime, but with all the fat cut out. All the characters are likable, endearing, and I’m not lying when I say that I will fight anyone to say Thrash isn’t the best orc in video games. I found myself enjoying the overall story, despite the fact the six levels, where you play as Mina and Thrash, are pretty much the same in terms of what you are doing.
The gameplay of Battle Chef Brigade is easily the main selling point. It’s an action game, a cooking game, and a match-three puzzle game, all wrapped up into a tasty taco. Each time you challenge a chef, you will have to serve up to three judges. Each judge that you encounter will have different tastes in what they want. For example, one judge will like fire, one will want earth, one will want water, and some will want a combination of the two. You can take into battle up to three perks in three different item slots. You can equip multiple items that range from helping your attacks, gaining more item slots, more health, more fire damage, to special ovens, cutting boards, cooking pans, and shelf ingredients. When the match begins, you must race through a small battle arena to fight monsters, and bring back their remains to cook with! When you begin cooking and throwing in ingredients, this is where the match-three puzzle game elements come into play. To strengthen your dishes, you must match the three colors to make better versions of those colors. After you cook your delicious meals with some time left, you must take them to the judges. The judges will be very tough on you if you do not get them what they requested. They will also take off points if you don’t get rid of bad elements, like poison and bones. This combination of gameplay has led to some truly satisfying experiences and intense matches. Sometimes, I won by the slimmest of margins. Sometimes, I would lose, and then have to go through a rematch a couple of more times before I won. It definitely puts you into the mind of how you see chefs run around and cook in shows, like Top Chef, Iron Chef, and Chopped. Outside of the battles, you will be able to take on side-tasks to make money, and buy new equipment that includes solving puzzles, cooking dishes, and hunting monsters. Outside of the main storyline, you also have challenges to take on, daily cooking matches, and local multiplayer. While it might not be the best game to pull out first at a party, it’s definitely going to have your friends huddling around you as you rush across the screen to fight your opponent, and cook dishes against one another. For $20, you get a huge amount of content, and it’s easily one of the most fun games I have obtained. I can’t believe I waited this long to play it.
Graphically, the 2D anime art style, while limited in certain ways, is still crisp, beautiful, and has plenty of likable designs. Even with the limited frames of animation, the game runs smoothly, even though I found a few areas where it chugged in the frame-rate department. It might look like an anime, but it’s easily superior to most Japanese-made franchise anime games. The music is also in that vein of Iron Chef, where it’s very loud and boastful, but doesn’t get in the way of dashing across the arenas. I was also surprised by the voice work. I think my favorite performances go to David Dixon as Thrash, Erica Mendez as Mina, and Kevin Powe as Ziggy. Everyone did a good job with their respective roles, and I was never distracted by a wonky delivery. It was just so charming, from beginning to end.
If I had to complain about something, I wish the battles were handled differently. I get why they combined both monster-hunting and cooking in the same area, because the arenas are so small, but I wish the monster-hunting was first, and then you get a separate time for cooking. It made some battles a bit too tough if you dilly dally too long, because certain monsters don’t spawn fast enough. It definitely cost me some matches that I had to do over again. I also wish you could play as the other goofy characters from the game that you encounter. I saw this little girl with a steampunk robot with a tea kettle for a head, and I really wanted to play as her in the multiplayer matches. Hopefully, they can add in more chefs in the multiplayer section in the future or as DLC.
Despite the gripes, Battle Chef Brigade is easily one of my new favorite indie titles, and is one of the new kings of indie games. It’s available right now for PC, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation 4. I highly recommend supporting the developer, and buying this game for any system that you have or prefer. I personally got it for my Switch, because it feels perfect for the console. I can’t wait to see what this developer does in the future, and I can’t wait to play some more Battle Chef Brigade.
This game gets a 9 out of 10.