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Battle Chef Brigade (PC) Review

February 23, 2018 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Battle Chef Brigade
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Battle Chef Brigade (PC) Review  

Above it all, Battle Chef Brigade is a cool game. It’s a mix of a brawler/action game, and a match-3 puzzle game. Other games have done dual-nature games, Nier: Automata, Banner Saga, Catherine/Persona series, but I’m not sure any of them has been as successful as this game. By and by, it’s just a charming experience.

In Battle Chef Brigade, you play the role of aspiring chef, Mina Han. Mina works in her family’s restaurant but dreams of going to the city and joining the titular Battle Chef Brigade. One day, she decides to do join the brigade, gets some money from her friend Simon and leaves suddenly to see if she has the right stuff for her wanted vocation. Along the way, you’ll meet a friendly orc, two-headed salesman, a caustic elf, and an undead chef, as you try to uncover the mystery of who is poisoning the monsters you use in your food, and hopefully become a part of the Brigade as well.

The game is really split into two parts, there is the cooking/match 3-ish aspect, and the brawler/platformer part. Here goes:

Brawler/Monster Hunting: When you are out in the field, you’ll come across various monsters you can kill. You have a basic attack with X, with special attacks like uppercuts or ground-pounds with direction buttons along with X. You have a basic, magical dagger attack with Y, with a tornado effect with Up and Y, and a dodge attack with Down and Y. The way you attack in the game is highly reminiscent of attacking in a Smash Bros game. You also use B to dodge around, and A is for jumping. RT is used for picking up ingreidents you get from deceased monsters, and LT is used for throwing away ingredients.

Monster ingredients tend to come in three colors, red (fire), blue (water), and green (earth), in a variety of sizes and shapes. Later on, you’ll encounter a few other elements like bone, poisons, or delicate ingridents.

Match 3/Cooking: Once you have a satchel full of ingredients, the other half of the game begins. You have to run back to cooking area, drop them off and begin fashioning an edible meal of the parts you collect. Initially, you have to create rows or column of three of the same colored gem. Three reds, or greens, or blues, etc. This will consume the stack and create a rank 2 gem. If you create stack or row of three rank two gems, they are upgraded to rank 3 (the max rank). You gain stars based on how many combinations/high ranking gems you create. It may be hard to visualize, but in practice, it makes a ton of sense.

Later on, you’ll have other things to deal with, poison gems which can damage other gems around it, bone gems that create a “wild card” gem, sauces that can convert one colored gem, to another, and a few other things to keep you on your toes.

Preparation is key in this game, and you have the three C’s to worry about: combat, cooking and cookware.

Combat slots are used for hunting monsters, and/or increasing mobility, your satchel space, life, mana, or altering your weapons somewhat.

Cooking slots are things that go in your pantry, or add passive bonuses to the puzzle system. You can start off with some basic ingredients, use sauces, or equip items that net you more stars if you do specific things inside your “dish” (puzzle screen).

Cookware slots are where you can equip different pots and pans, which provide a more active bonus to the puzzle system. You start off with a dull pot, which is the match 3 pot. But quickly, you get element-specific pots, where you only need two of the same element to rank them up, but only that color can be matched. Or, you can get a cutting board which will let you slice any gem on the board, with a quick mini-game.

Honestly, I kept the same combat loadout for 80% of the game, aside from when I got a better item to increase my satchel size more than normal. However, the cooking and cookware slots basically change after every fight. You are to pick a loadout, then you actually start the match. Before it begins, you are told what the judge(s) want, say a fiery dish made of dragon meat, or a dish made of Earth/Water gems from hydra materials. BUT, if you pick the wrong loadout, you can be very screwed. So, a tip is, select any loadout, start the match, get the initial info of what elements you need, then quit out of the game. When you reload, you’ll be before the match, so you can then pick out what gear you’ll best need for the given match.

The basic structure of the game is as follows: wake up, talk to a few people on the street, do your side jobs, and then challenge someone in the tournament. Once you complete the challenge, you go to bed, and the cycle begins anew. Yes, there are side jobs you can choose to do/not to do.

The first side job is a puzzle-oriented one. You are given a puzzle field and told to get a certain number of stars with the ingredients provided. You have to approach these puzzles with more cunning than in most of the other cooking experiences in the game.

Hunting is the second side job. You are dropped off in an area and you basically have to hunt a certain number of monsters, usually under 14 or so. There’s no time limit or anything, so this is pretty easy to accomplish. Occasionally, you’re tasked with hunting a specific monster down, but considering there are only around 15 monsters in the game total, this isn’t too hard either.

Finally, the last job is you working in a restaurant. The idea here is that customers come in and have a gem pattern. You then have to match the pattern within 20 or 30 seconds, otherwise the customer will go. The more customers you can process, the more money you’ll get at the end. This mini-game is all about speed, but you do have to work out some specific patterns as you go through it all.

This is all there really is to the game. It’s written fairly well, the puzzle stuff is good, the combat is a little less so, but not much. The overall look of the game is great, it’s kind of anime-ish but has elements from Winsor McCay. It reminded me a lot of Little Nemo, to be honest.

There are only a few small hang-ups in Battle Chef Brigade, but it’s nothing too bad. Probably the biggest problem is that the game is ultimately kind of short experience. I think there are only three hunting main hunting areas (woods, mines and mountain top), with a couple, extremely short areas as well. There 6 chapters in the game, but at least two are fairly tutorial focused, so only 4 of which are actually gameplay intensive. Also, the combat can get to be a grind in spots, because there is some occasional wonky collusion detection when hitting enemies. It’s not that you miss or anything, but bigger monsters don’t really stagger or get knocked back much. It can throw off the rhythm of combat, but only slightly.

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
Battle Chef Brigade is a bright, cheerful and innovative game through and through. It successfully melds two fairly disparate genres into a cohesive package. Arguably, the biggest problem of the game is that there isn’t enough of it, the story is a tad short, not a lot of environments, etc. But really, what’s there is a unique and fun experience, which should be played if you’ve been really hankering for a puzzle game. While I played this game on PC, I imagine the Switch port would be even more enjoyable.