Chef a restaurant tycoon is a restaurant management game developed by Inner Void. It is available on Steam
Chef allows you to channel your inner Gordon Ramsay as you manage a restaurant. You start the game by creating your very own cute little chef, there are a decent amount of appearance options available to customize your doll like avatar with. Your custom avatar begins the game as your first Chef and also can be leveled up RPG style with different skills that make them better or faster at creating certain dishes. You can specialize them to be great at making seafood, or a connoisseur of all things vegan. Or you can make them a more well-rounded cook.
Your chef gains experience as you play and the amount of skills available is pretty impressive. After that, you pick your first restaurant from a random and varied list. The locations vary in kitchen and hall size and rent cost. More importantly, each location has different variables that affect what kinds of customers you will be getting. One place might be isolated so it business is slow, but rent is cheap. Or it might be a near a factory where you will attract a lot of blue collar workers. This is important because each customer prefers different types of foods and will pay different prices.
You can always change it later, but making money is a slow burn, so whatever you pick is going to be your home for quite a while. After that, you have to furnish your place with tables and cooking equipment, hire your first waiter, fill out your menu and open the place up to the hungry hordes of fickle and petty customers.
The tutorials aren’t great at explaining much so you’re mostly on your own. The first thing you do is buy furniture. Tables for the guests and kitchen equipment for your Chefs. Different recipes require different types of kitchen equipment to cook with, so you will either want a large variety for a varied menu or you can specialize to cut costs.
You can also implement optional items to boost meal prep time, reduce the ongoing cost of ingredients or increase the overall atmosphere of the restaurant. You have some options to change the look of the floors and walls, but currently, furnishing options are pretty limited and two different restaurants will look more or less the same.
Once that’s done you fill out your highly customizable menu. You have a ton of options and food wise, you could make any type of eatery you want, you also have complete control of the prices for each meal. But keep in mind different types of food please different types of customers.
Cheapskates like carbs but no desserts. Vegans will be having none of that animal murder, thank you very much. Blue Collar workers want some booze to be available after a hard days work.
Eventually, you will attract gourmets and food enthusiasts. If you have ever watched any kitchen reality show, you know your meals are going to have to crafted from very best ingredients fit for a king, and cooked with the skill of a culinary master working deity in the kitchens of mount Olympus. And they are still going to leave you an average review anyway, the picky snobs.
To aid you in this endeavor is a very robust custom recipe tool. You get ingredient points alongside your chefs own skills. You can unlock ingredients from a massive tree of choices and then craft your own recipes with the available ingredients. The system is intelligently designed.
You can’t just throw a pile of crap into a recipe and expect it to be any good. You have to balance levels of aromas and flavor and figure out what ingredients work best together for whatever Frankenstein monster of a meal you are concocting.
I could see some players getting lost for hours in this system and it’s truly one of the games highest points. The amount of ingredients is staggering, the developers are either cooks on some level in real life or left no stone unturned in their culinary research. Spend enough time in it and you could have an entire menu composed of recipes of your own creation.
Once your menu is complete, you need to hire your first waiter or two, and maybe a second chef depending on how popular your first place is early on. The staff also all have different skills but they aren’t upgradeable like your own. You get whatever you hire. Some cooks are better or worse with certain recipes and some waiters are faster or better with people.
After that, you open the policy menu and cut the ribbon opening your baby up. The policies menu has a good deal of things to do it in, including deals to get new furniture or hiring an agency to find you better staff applicants. You also set the parameters for cleaning tables or bathrooms which can improve the atmosphere of the place at a higher expense. The descriptions of these policies are hilarious, and gross, such as floating surprises in the bathroom, ew.
After that, you watch your restaurant in action as customers come in and be seated by your waiters and your chefs go to work. Unfortunately, this is where the game starts to suffer. There is little to no feedback on what is actually happening moment to moment. Not only are the animations limited, but you can click and interact with almost nothing.
You cant see what’s being ordered, what’s being cooked or really what’s actually happening in the game. A few times I was able to get a strange menu to pop up. But it was full of string names, clearly a work in progress.
You also have almost no control. You can set what each waiter should focus on, such as seating or collecting checks. But you can’t direct them, nor can you direct your chefs. I found it strange that I had my own chef leveled up to be really good at cooking steaks and a second chef who was bad with vegetables.
But had no control of who cooked what meal. I had no feedback on who was cooking which recipes and how it affected the quality. There are some menus you can dig in after the fact that show what customers ordered and their satisfaction.
But the day to day gameplay mostly consists of sitting idle and watching things happen. You get a report at the end of the day, and you will need to adjust menu items and recipes to appease new types of customers. But really after you set up your restaurant and open it, gameplay takes a back seat.
Some customers leave you reviews that show what type of customer they were and their different levels of satisfaction. A lot of them are repetitive but you can glean at least some useful intel from them. And then there is the occasional gem that a hilarious and true to form representation of the internet. My personal favorite being. “I’ve never smoked a cigarette in my life, but it doesn’t matter because this restaurant gave me cancer anyway.” Gotta love the glorious majesty of the internet, even in a video game.
In closing the game shows a ton of promise, it has got some incredibly good ideas with the skill tree, custom menus, and insanely detailed recipe creator. The customer variety and the location traits are also great additions and really show how great of a management game this can become.
But its marred by a lack of furnishing options and terrible player feedback and control. It’s going to be very reliant on updates and if Inner Void can deliver I will be incredibly happy. But at $19.99 the price is a bit too steep for a promise of improvement. I suggest you do follow the game though, and watch for updates. I sure will.
A key for Chef: A restaurant tycoon was provided for GideonsGaming by Inner Void.
Like tycoon games? Check out my review of Parkitect!
- Detailed skill tree for your custom Chef
- Very in-depth recipe creator and full control of your menu
- Hilarious item descriptions and customer reviews
- Variety of customer types and location traits
- Lackluster animations
- Few options to make your restaurant look unique.
- Nearly no control of day to day gameplay
- Poor tutorials and player feedback on what is going on in the game