Some games work better for virtual reality than others—at least in its current state—and cooking games are definitely a fit for the still fledgling medium. If you’re a fan of games like Cooking Mama, or even Overcooked! and have a virtual reality headset, you have a chance to get in there and really immerse yourself in cooking with Clash of Chefs VR. While it’s not the first virtual reality cooking game I’ve played (Co-Op centric VR The Diner Duo is great, and still a favorite), Clash of Chefs VR has the recipe for fun.
Clash of Chefs VR is a game where you’re the chef in one of three themed restaurants serving either American, Italian, or Japanese cuisine. As customers come in, your waiter gives you their order, and you have to fill it as quickly as possible. It’s a simple concept, but it will make you feel like you’re a line cook during a particularly busy lunch or dinner rush. You won’t have much time to prepare each dish, so you have to work fast. Fry up burgers, cut vegetables, boil noodles and more as you wrestle with ingredients and customers’ patience and frantically try to complete each order.
I’ve worked in food service before, and while Clash of Chefs VR isn’t exactly a simulator, it can recreate that feeling of being in the weeds. In real life, during a 12 plus hour shift, that isn’t fun. But in a video game where each round lasts for only a few minutes, frantic slicing and cooking can be a whole hell of a lot of fun. Luckily, you’re only dealing with customer satisfaction. If you prep a meal quick, you’ll get maximum points, but the longer it takes, the more the customer loses his or her patience. Too many angry customers and you fail. After you get used to whatever cuisine you’re cooking, it definitely gets easier—that is, until they start throwing more complicated orders at you, or you find yourself into a new cooking style and have to learn the basics for that style of cooking.
One of my complaints about Clash of Chefs VR is its lack of instruction. You’re often thrown into having to cook items you’ve never cooked before. There were a few times I just went into a level, practiced the new dish at my own pace, and then restarted it. Luckily, you do have the ability to play in “casual” mode, which allows you to practice without the threat of customer dissatisfaction. Rounds go quickly, so even failing a round isn’t a huge sting, and you can get right behind the counter again.
If you don’t have any culinary background, don’t fret: most of the food prepares itself; you just have to go through the motions. Clash of Chefs VR is pretty particular about how and where you place ingredients, however. If a customer wants their ketchup on the bun instead of the burger patty itself, for example, you have to get it exactly right—or your waiter will reject it and you have to remake. What makes that a little frustrating is the sometimes (but rarely) wonky object collision in Clash of Chefs VR. There were too many times I’ve spilled a bowl of broth or dumped my noodles because a bowl or utensil clipped and got stuck in an object—something that can happen if you’re not careful, and it’s hard to be careful when trying to get food out at a fast pace.
Cooking in Clash of Chefs VR, therefore, is just a matter of placing ingredients together in the proper order. You don’t have to worry about doneness or even precise cutting. That doesn’t mean it’s easy to get the food out though. In fact, there’s a degree of chaos in Clash of Chefs VR you might feel is close to an actual kitchen. Unlike a real kitchen, though, your waiters and customers won’t get mad if you decide to throw your ruined food at them in frustration—a catharsis that can only come in your virtual restaurant.
As much as I’ve enjoyed my time with Clash of Chefs VR, I do want to mention how shockingly close to VR The Diner Duo it is in some aspects. A co-op game, VR The Diner Duo has one player outside of VR play as the waiter, while the person wearing the headset prepares the food, so that’s a key difference—but as far as the American cuisine goes, the appearance and prep is almost identical. But while VR The Diner Duo is focused on co-op play, Clash of Chefs VR features two more styles of cuisine and more importantly: chef battles. Clash of Chefs VR allows you to compete with other chefs via points. Do you think you’re the fastest chef? Prove it in a chef battle, and work your way up the leaderboard to show just how good you are.
I really like Clash of Chefs VR, and am anticipating any updates. It’s a little unfortunate that there really isn’t a co-op aspect to it, something a lot of cooking games have, but it’s definitely fun enough to stand up on its own. If you’ve ever wanted to simulate working in a kitchen without the long hours and achy feet, Clash of Chefs VR is as close as you can get to being a line cook without having to fill out an application.
Clash of Chefs VR leaves Early Access and releases today on Steam.
A Steam key was provided to us for this review.
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