Ever wondered what Cooking Mama would be like in VR? Clash of Chefs lets players take the role of a chef based in four unique restaurants, each with its own designs and recipes. You even get your own waiter who will take food to the customers! Just make sure the food is made in the same way the recipe is shown; otherwise, you might get some nasty reviews on Tripadvisor.
Taking in the Surroundings
As soon as I jumped into Clash of Chefs, I noticed how interesting the restaurants all looked. All of the game’s locales are well-designed and feel really cosy to work in. Each restaurant is accompanied by its own music, allowing the player to feel more immersed in the game. The waiter will dress accordingly to match the aesthetic of the restaurant as well. I found out quite early on that my waiter was not a hologram after I launched a plate of pasta at him, which bounced off his head and onto the floor, probably making him question why he ever took the job in the first place. Each restaurant also has its own recipes unique to its food cultures, including pizzas at the Italian, burritos at the Mexican, etc. Casual Mode lets you experiment with different recipes under zero time restraints, meaning you can make as many dishes as you desire without the stress of Campaign Mode. Casual Mode became my main go-to on multiple playthroughs as Campaign Mode can become quite stressful in its later stages, particularly based on how much time you’re given to make a dish.
When you get started with the Campaign Mode, a tutorial will pop up showing you how to make a specific dish. I advise pausing the game and reading tutorials from there, however, because the game’s customers will start arriving and become increasingly bored the longer they wait for their food. Quick and efficient cooking is key in Clash of Chefs, and in later levels, it can become quite overwhelming when recipes become more complex and multitasking becomes more difficult. Customers are presented with satisfaction meters above their orders on the screen in front of you, coloured in green, orange and red. These meters tend to fall incredibly quickly, as if the game wants the player to feel the real pressures of working in a kitchen. Actually, making the food itself, however, is really satisfying. Watching the tomato sauce ooze on top of a pizza before you shower it with a multitude of different toppings feels awesome, especially when presented with the final product. Cooked noodles in the Japanese restaurant wiggle in the spoon before you drop them in a bowl, and pouring pasta in hot water makes you appreciate the physics that the developers took time into designing. If only the game had more than one waiter. Countless times I placed two dishes in the service area, only for the waiter to grab just one, which made it frustrating when a customer’s satisfaction meter is still depleting at the same time another is being served. Use both of your hands, man!
I’m Not Eating That!
Messing up a recipe isn’t the only way players can keep customers waiting. Left a burger out too long on the plate? Now it’s all mouldy. Left another burger on the grill for too long? It’s now completely burnt. Accidentally dropped a plate full of food? You better make a new batch. This design choice means the player will need to think carefully about pre-cooking any food that might potentially go bad after a certain time, extending the customer’s wait time and further decreasing their satisfaction meters. Maybe play on Casual Mode before you start giving customers a double cheeseburger with blue and green patties.
Time to Clock Out
Once all the customers have received their food, the player is presented with a results screen, showing how many customers reached a certain level of satisfaction. Leaderboards with other players let you compare your performance, making you aware of who’s been crowned as the top chef. Players can restart if they want to improve on their cooking for that level or move on to the next one. I personally prefer to just make dishes in my own time as the leaderboard seems fixated on how fast you can cook, including a time completion score.
Clash of Chefs gives players lots of choices with the food they want to cook. Having a wide variety of recipes to perfect makes every level feel fresh, akin to the food your customers are hoping to receive. The game’s competitive spirit regarding leaderboards doesn’t overshadow the fact that it’s absolutely okay to also take things slow in Casual Mode. The Campaign Mode can be easily enjoyed in the early stages, but the game becomes tiresome when late stages expect the player to craft four complex meals at once in 30 seconds. I’m only one guy! And where’s the manager? Am I the manager too? Maybe we should hire more waiters…
Developer: Flat Hill Games
Publisher: Flat Hill Games
Platforms: Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift, PCVR, Viveport
Release Date: 19/08/21