Chef Life: A Restaurant Simulator – PC Review

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From developer Cyanide Studio (Styx: Master of Shadows) and publisher Nacon (Steel Rising) is Chef Life: A Restaurant Simulator. Much like the title suggests, Chef Life is a third-person management sim like Two Point Campus. Out of the frying pan and into the fire, you begin with all the responsibilities of the manager and head chef of a new restaurant. Thanks to your partner Kassim and several other NPCs hopefully you rise and earn that first Michelin star. Chef Life is available now on PC as well as Switch, Xbox and PlayStation consoles.

Can you stand the heat in Chef Life or should you get out of the kitchen?

Gordon Ramsay, I am not but I had a very good time playing Chef Life. I only wish actual cooking was as easy. I’d love to hear what you think of the game so comment below.

2 chefs and best friends proudly starting their path in Chef Life. Kassim is saying Look at you! your new uniform fits perfectly! It's as if it were made for you!
It’s the hat which really makes the uniform

Gameplay

Chef Life is solely single-player and begins shortly before the grand opening of your first restaurant. Alongside your friend and colleague Kassim, you start following your passion. Kassim acts as a guide to help you in your career as you both grow throughout the game while a Michelin star chef becomes a mentor of sorts to earning your own Michelin star. While definitely inspired by Cooking Simulator, Chef Life is very appealing in how easy it was to cook. The focus given to the player character’s story was really well done and after a short time have the option to make the experience your own. Including the decent variety of options found in character creation.

When it comes to playing, it’s warmer than Cooking Simulator and can be a bit like Overcooked when it comes to juggling the various aspects of running a kitchen. Obviously, a more streamlined and user-friendly version of an actual restaurant but the range of tasks felt accurate. From inventory to cleaning, all jobs are your responsibility while cooking and serving food. Thankfully as things heat up in Chef Life, staff such as Kassim can be assigned roles to lighten the load. Small things while playing like the UI and interacting with objects felt cumbersome at times which did become a little frustrating, especially while hurriedly cooking. Thankfully easier settings were available such as customers not feeling rushed, which was one thing off my plate.

I had much more fun when the game branched out by giving new recipes unlocked with XP. After a time being able to pick and choose what I was serving meant it factored into the ease of cooking, earning profit and more. I found a rhythm as I gained experience with recipes and felt like a master chef after a short time. My only major issue with Chef Life was a truly frustrating bug with the mixing station which is key for most recipes. At one point it became unusable and only via Google did the solution of moving it present itself. This was a big sticking point and soured the game a bit after that.

Chef is beaming with pride and the lovely meal he made
I’ve never been so proud of steak and chips

Graphics & Audio

One of my favourite aspects of Chef Life is the visual style. The stylised graphics made me think of Cooking Simulator crossed with The Sims or the Two Point series. It is so colourful and vibrant I couldn’t help but feel the cosy and warm vibes. That part of the visual design made playing within the four walls of the restaurant more than bearable. From the environment to NPCs and even to the food prep animations, the design came together to make a pleasant setting for the game. I played Chef Life on PC where there it ran smoothly and while it isn’t really beneficial, the game goes up to 4k resolution and 60 fps as well as low to high graphics quality, anti-aliasing and shadow resolution.

Going hand in hand with the visuals is Chef Life’s audio design. Aside from a few lines of dialogue from NPCs, the characters are silent which did leave them feeling wooden and with little personality to them. Especially with major NPCs like Kassim who has his own story points, this was a bit disappointing. The sound effects and music made up for this lack of voice acting though. The background music is lively and upbeat working well with the warm visuals, likewise in the animated transition sequences. As for the sound effects of Chef Life, I found them easily engaging from prominent sounds around the environment to little things like chopping onions.

Taking in the now open restaurant
Order up!

Longevity

The gameplay all comes from the single-player career mode which begins to branch off allowing you to have any restaurant you want. From the look and feel of your restaurant to the food you serve, the world is your oyster when it comes to Chef Life. And there are numerous achievements or trophies to keep the completionists happy. I only got a small handful of the 40 Steam achievements available but perhaps that will cause me to return. I was happy to learn there is some DLC coming with French cuisine and pizza for which I could easily go back for seconds.

your day 4 restaurant recap showing overall scores as well as specific tables. Image shows their satisfaction as well as the amount of tip given. On the right there is the performance overview, with quality of service, customers as well as total amount of money earned. Then it shows your experience bar which shows your current level.
Love to see satisfied customers

Final Thoughts

I enjoyed my time so far with Chef Life and looking forward to playing more. It brings its own take on the sim genre while inspired by predecessors such as Cooking Simulator. With an interesting narrative, the game has multiple branching options on the path to success. The gameplay is fun while being a more user-friendly version of actually being head chef and restaurant manager. Some clunky movement and buggy in-game equipment can be frustrating at times, however.

The graphics and audio worked well and complemented each other quite well. The graphics made for a warm, cosy experience and high-performance settings for those wanting to utilise their PC or console. The audio was very good with the soundtrack and sound effects throughout. The voice acting peppered in was a little lacking though. There is plenty in Chef Life to sink your teeth into with DLC on the way soon. Plus with 40 steam achievements and similar on consoles to keep you busy.

I had a really good time playing Chef Life and am keen to play more and see what Cyanide Studio makes next.

I hope you enjoyed my review of Chef Life. If you feel like a change of pace from the culinary arts, check out my review of The Art of War Card Game.

Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.

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