Underneath my yellow skin

A Quick Look: Battle Chef Brigade

got my game face on.

I have a problem that I really get into a game, and then I kind of flounder around looking for a new one once I’m done. I finished Night in the Woods a few weeks ago, and I hadn’t found a game to replace it. I went back to Cook Serve Delicious! 2!! because there is going to be a big free expansion in a few months that include something called The Barista Update. It’s going to focus on drinks, which is exciting because the drinks are pretty easy right now. I don’t mind because pop was a bitch in the first game, but I’m all for more Cook Serve Delicious!2!! I’m trying not to be as much of a perfectionist this time, but it’s hard. I still automatically restart when I make a mistake (it’s ingrained after two games), and I can’t seem to stop myself from doing it. I did it on my first playthrough because there’s an achievement for 200 gold medals (getting a perfect day in one of the Chef for Hire restaurants).

Anyway, Ian told me about a game called Battle Chef Brigade, and I was immediately intrigued. It’s a cross between Iron Chef and Monster Hunter (lite), and the main character is named Mina. I mean, how could I not get it, right? Since I’m cheap, however, I waited for it to go on sale, and now it’s sitting pretty in my Steam account. It’s labeled a brawler and a puzzle game, and I have it in my indie eclectic category. It’s made by Trinket Studios after a successful Kickstarter than netted them nearly triple the amount they asked for, and it was published by Adult Swim.

I only watched the trailer before I bought it, and I started it with trepidation. Why? Because it’s hard to tell what I will and won’t like. Things that should be right up my alley aren’t, and things that I’m skeptical of sometimes hit the spot. An example of the former–Overcooked. I had heard glowing praise of it, and it looked like something I would adore. I hated it. Straight up hated it. Maybe it’s better with local co-op, but I can’t be stuffed to find out. I uninstalled rather quickly and never looked back.

I started Battle Chef Brigade with some trepidation, and I was immediately charmed by it. Not only is the character’s name Mina, her last name is Han. She’s a simple country gal working in her parents’ small restaurant, but dreaming of being a Battle Chef Brigade competitor.  Through some machinations, she makes it to the competition (of course! Otherwise, there wouldn’t be a game) and registers. One of the amusing conceits is that she oversleeps all the time, which is something I cannot relate to. Anyway, the tutorials are brief, and I think the game would benefit from expanding them a bit. Look, yes, I play Souls games in which the tutorials are, “Here. Play the game. Go away”, but that doesn’t mean I’m against tutorials in general. During the combat parts of the game, there are certain moves you can do, and they are not as intuitive at all.

At least they weren’t for me when I was trying keyboard/mouse. I prefer k/m to controller, but I’ve used controller much more for the past several games I’ve played. Anyway, k/m is not intuitive at all for this game. The first problem is because I use Dvorak instead of Qwerty. This game does not support Dvorak, so I had to switch my keyboard back to Qwerty before playing. That’s not the problem. The problem is that when the prompts came up in the tutorial, it’s in Qwerty, and it doesn’t register with my brain. It doesn’t help if it’s in Dvorak, though, because I touch-type, so I don’t necessarily know where the letters are on the keyboard. There are two kinds of attacks–physical and magical. And there are combos. I don’t play fighting games, and I hate combo-based combat, so it’s basically comes down to button-mashing for me. There’s no place to check what the combos actually are (at least not that I can find. Maybe in the practice kitchen? I can’t remember), and I usually just hit the animal/plant until it dies.

look at me fly!

I like the combat parts, but I’m just not good at them. Once I switched over to controller, however, it was MUCH easier. You can rebind the k/m, but it’s not something I wanted to do. Controller works better, and I’m resigned to the fact that I’m a console girl who prefers playing on PC. The combat is so you get the ingredients you need to cook your dishes, and you can do it during the cooking sessions.

Other than that, there’s a town you live in filled with quirky characters. You have three things you can do each day–wait. let me back up. The way you cook is through match-3 gameplay, and there are three colors of gems. Red for fire, green for earth, and blue for water. Back to the town. There are three places you can go each day. One, the old cat dude who is perfecting an elusive recipe–Ambrosia. He has puzzles for you to solve (in match-3, remember), and he has rewards when you finish the puzzles. Also, monies. Can’t forget the monies. You get money from doing the town stuff–at least from working in the restaurant, which is the third place in town. The second place is for hunting, and you can learn new moves there. There’s also a practice kitchen, and it’s fun to talk to the NPCs throughout the day.

But, let’s face it, the real draw of the game is the battles. First of all, I’m very surprised that Iron Chef hasn’t had a thing or two to say about this game. There are certain phrases that are almost verbatim, and even the catch phrase, ‘Viva la Brigade’ is in French, though not nearly as catchy. Anyway, the competition is fast and furious as I have to kill the monsters in order to get the ingredients, then cook to the judge(s) specs within the allotted amount of time. I’m still in early days on normal mode so it’s not too difficult yet, but it’s still frenetic. Currently, there are two judges, which means I have to make two dishes. One wants fire, one wants earth. There’s a secret ingredient, of course, and you have to feature it prominently, but also include other ingredients.

It doesn’t sound like much when I write it out, but it’s fast and bonkers, and it’s totally addictive. I just want to keep playing, which is the sign of a good game. I’m ambivalent about the arts style, but I like that it’s distinctive. The voice acting is decent–at least it doesn’t get on my nerves–and the characters are endearing. There are a few other modes I haven’t tried yet–Daily Cook-Off and Challenges–but so far I’m just enjoying the main game. There’s a narrative, but it’s pretty predictable so far. I also enjoy the fantastical dishes I create with the various monster parts.

In short, it’s a fun and addictive game despite its flaws, and I would recommend it if you like Iron Chef, match-3, brawlers and Monster Hunter (any and/or all). I also would say if you play it, use a controller if you can. It makes a world of difference.

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