Epic Chef mixes together varied ingredients to create something rather tasty. It's a story-based adventure game about a man named Zest moving to a new town and rising through the culinary ranks, but the gameplay isn't just about cooking. While you'll concoct numerous recipes using weird and wonderful ingredients, the game is as much a crafting and life sim experience.
It's an unusual blend, but it works pretty well. A day/night cycle means the townsfolk of Ambrosia run their routines by the clock, meaning shops aren't always open and NPCs will appear in different places depending on the time. If you've a quest you can't continue until the evening, say, you can spend the day planting seeds in your garden, crafting materials to make new items, or experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen.
A big part of the game is the chef battles, in which you and an opponent cook up your best grub and a judge decides the victor. The cooking system is simple on the surface — you throw ingredients in a pan and stir until everything's cooked — but it's more nuanced than that, with synergies to discover, delaying stirring to build aroma, and adding sauces to jazz up the flavour. Once you get a taste for it, it's an enjoyable system.
It does take a little while for the game to really warm up; the opening hours aim to establish quite a lot quite quickly, but once you're past all that, there's a pretty solid adventure to enjoy. Some aspects may leave a funny aftertaste; loading interrupts the game between areas, which makes getting around feel a bit clunky. The presentation is a little rough too, with several fiddly menus and blocky characters that don't quite hit the mark. However, the witty writing and crazy story, paired with simple but effective gameplay, makes for an enjoyable adventure for your inner foodie.