Automachef review - Overclocked

By Olly Smith. Posted

I’ve seen enough Kitchen Nightmares to understand the agony of running your own busy restaurant. Between the hustle and bustle of serving those hungry customers and the stress of micromanaging a team of cooks, Automachef instead presents a modern solution to the culture of overstaffed kitchens by replacing everything with robotic chefs that prepare, cook, and assemble entire meals.

Each level in Automachef has you designing elaborate food assembly lines that go through the whole process of making a meal, from grabbing the right ingredients to processing them in the correct way. Constructing these setups leaves you to your own devices, using crane arms, conveyer belts, and other machinery to help optimise the perfect design.

Once you’ve put it all together, your skills are put to the test as the restaurant opens and the customers come flowing in. Your designs are never perfect the first time around, and you’ll immediately notice flaws that need correcting.

Through trial and error, you find creative solutions for these problems, and the most optimal kitchen setups soon present themselves. Bigger challenges appear as you progress, with factors such as power usage and insect infestations affecting how you design these layouts.

If you wish to break up the story, you can also hop on over to one of the other game modes. ‘Contracts’ is a more open-ended way to play, with a bigger focus on the business management features – such as keeping your reputation and finances afloat – while you tackle stages with randomly-generated objectives.

It makes for a well-deserved change of pace from the scripted campaign, as every level feels unpredictable while also allowing for additional freedom in how you approach the scenarios.

A robotic companion gives you tips and accompanies you throughout the campaign.

For a more sandbox-oriented experience, you can also play on the Test Site, which acts as a playground for testing out different machines and setups. Then there’s the level editor where you can create a whole stage from scratch – with custom objectives and limitations – to upload to the Steam Workshop.

Further mod support includes the ability to make your own food recipes, allowing for near-infinite possibilities when paired with the player-made levels. If one thing’s certain, it’s that this game is built to last.

The beauty of Automachef lies in its diverse approach to player freedom. It’s a puzzler where every stage has multiple solutions. Sure, if you just wanted the minimum success rating, then you need not worry about the extra objectives.

Watching your budget, power usage, and reputation is a restriction for the players who desire that added challenge, but it also allows you to think creatively in a way other puzzle games don’t. Stacking it up against recent gems like Opus Magnum or Factorio, it feels like the most accessible game of its type and a top banana of the genre.

Highlight

Special orders may come in from time to time. These range from rush hour customers to visits from VIP food critics. It encourages you to optimise your assembly lines to be as fast as possible.

Verdict 80%

Accompanying a cute, industrial aesthetic and a variety of different game modes, Automachef’s emphasis on player freedom is a recipe for success.

Genre: Puzzle
Format: PC (tested) / Switch
Developer: Hermes Interactive
Publisher: Team17
Price: £10.99
Release: Out now

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