I got the chance to play Battle Chef Brigade today at PAX. The game, by Trinket Studios, is part of the PAX 10, a group of the best 10 indie games chosen by 50 industry experts. If you like cooking games but also like fantasy adventure, this is pretty much gold.
We’ve been following Battle Chef Brigade for a while now. We even profiled Trinket Studios back in February of last year. The protagonist of Battle Chef Brigade is Mina, the daughter and chef-in-training of a master cook. She doesn’t use your average ingredients—all the food is made from monsters that Mina hunts in the wilds. (This is quite expected. Mina isn’t feeding anyone surprise creepy crawlies.) “We’ve wanted to have a female lead for a while, so we spent extra time trying to bring Mina’s personality and style to life,” explained Trinket’s president, Tom Eastman. “Eric [Huang, lead artist] made a ton of great fantasy character concepts and Mina really stuck with us. She’s agile and fast, which are perfect qualities for a knife-wielding rogue. Knives in particular are really fun since they’re great for fighting and chopping!”
The game is sort of an odd mix between a fighting game and a cooking game, but it comes together surprisingly well. In the demo I led Mina through the steps of putting together a meal. She goes out to catch some monsters—she dual-wields chopping knives, fittingly—and then heads back in with her new ingredients. The fighting wasn’t too complicated (especially at first), but involved a bit of jumping around, and the animation was extremely satisfying.
The cooking involved a match-3 mini-game where you have to choose the correct ingredients to get the best number of matches. First I chose a pot, then added ingredients, each of which had a certain type and number of attributes. While boiling the soup, I had to match up those ingredient baubles. I suspect that this gameplay mechanic will become more complicated as the game goes on, or at least I hope it will—it was pretty fun at the moment, but did seem like it could get a bit dull as time went on, if you weren’t challenged further. I have high hopes, though.
The best parts of Battle Chef Brigade involve the world-building and characters. Everything is gorgeously 2D animated, and the world is bright and colorful and interesting. Mina seems like an exciting protagonist—I didn’t get to know her very well in the demo, but she’s funny, relatable, and determined (on top of having a great character design). I also enjoyed the monster designs, and am looking forward to find out more about the world they inhabit. It seems like there’s a lot of cool stuff going on:
“If memory serves me right, it was starving northern protectors who discovered how to safely consume monster meat. The warriors gained renown for using their fighting skills to create the wildest dishes the people had ever tasted. Those elite hunters formed the Battle Chef Brigade, promising to protect the lands and feed the people.”
Mina also has rivals she has to enter cooking competitions with, and a mother who doesn’t always agree with her style.
All in all, I’m looking forward to playing Battle Chef Brigade in full.