Preparing this Epic Chef review was somewhat confusing. The game is not what the marketing might have lead you to believe it is. Nor does the opening section represent anything that the game has to offer. Furthermore, the title is surprisingly throwaway for such an absorbing experience. Yes, Epic Chef is not what we were expecting, but it is a fantastically enjoyable adventure.
At first, Epic Chef appears to a bizarre concoction of disparate game mechanics. It has a Fable style mission system and world to explore, with a Banjo-Kazooie like humour in it’s characters and dialogue. It has a day/night system and activities which revolve around that clock, as well as the constant threat of needing to cook. And yet, at the same time it feels as though it’s building to something different. Something which it refuses entirely to prepare you for.
Once you’ve worked through the intro and a few of the main missions have been completed, it’ll suddenly strike you. Epic Chef is not a straight-forward adventure game. Nor is it an Overcooked rip-off, as many may have been expecting. Far from it, in fact. Instead, during the course of writing this Epic Chef review, we found it to have many more similarities with the Harvest Moon series than anything else.
The game is essentially built around the idea of upgrading your premises, expanding your farm. In turn, unlocking new buildings, ingredients and recipes. It’s occasionally as straight-forward a task as go talk to someone. However, it can also be a much more elaborate setup requiring several stages in a process, and not all of them may you be familiar with prior to being given the objective. It’s here that Epic Chef really shines. Through gradual building of complexity you’ll find there’s always something interesting to do.
Your chef skills increase as you utilise differing ingredients to create new recipes. However, it’s not a simple case of throw things in a pot and see what happens, ala The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Instead, you should learn each ingredients’ type and boost your results through ‘synergy’. It’s basically a system wherein careful players can level-up quicker by paying attention to what they’re cooking and how. It’s not complicated, but carelessness can lead to simple mistakes that ruin a meal, and thus your reward.
As you complete objectives, make friends, cook meals and earn money, so too the world will slowly expand and afford you new items, ingredients and objectives. It’s a well worn template but doesn’t feel at odds here. In fact, Epic Chef is an incredibly well paced game. So much so that you can expect it to keep you up well past your bedtime as you keep thinking ‘just one more mission/meal/challenge’, yet inevitably that completion offers you yet more to do. Epic Chef is not a complicated game, but it is a thoroughly compelling one. At least, in everything but that throwaway name.