Ever wanted to create the ultimate automated kitchen where you don’t have to worry about pesky employees not being efficient enough? Well, now you can live your dreams in Automachef where you create the best, quickest, and tastiest meals. Just make sure to keep that efficiency rating high and don’t anger the food critics! This management puzzle game provides several hours of entertainment as players scratch their heads over the fastest designs possible. Automachef is a great time for all ages and I’m enjoying the heck out of it.
I’m incredibly surprised at how much time I spent playing Automachef. It is a management game that has an intuitive design. Each level has objectives that players need to fulfill in order to succeed. If an objective is not completed then, when looking at the timeline, the circle next to that particular requirement would not be filled. Level requirements will be things like energy usage, orders fulfilled, food critic orders satisfied, total ingredients used, or time limits. In the campaign, completing these objectives opens up the next level, however, there are a couple of other modes that can be played.
Notably, Automachef possesses a Career mode where players begin with a budget to take on contracts. This mode presumes that players have already completed the game or understand what machines are needed to complete various orders. It does not hold your hand by telling you what is required for each contract. The most players receive is the menu list, a budget, a power usage, or total ingredients that can be used. Objectives in each contract changes based on the difficulty level set. While players can complete a contract on easy, they will receive less money, less of a bonus payment, and a lower efficiency target to meet. The objectives will also scale accordingly, allowing players to produce fewer dishes during rush hour times and lower energy use. Overall, this mode is great at providing a challenge once players finish the campaign mode.
There are three other options that are self-explanatory. A scenario mode allows players to make their own challenges with their own objective list that can be published on the Steam workshop. At the moment, there aren’t many scenarios available, but there are a few that players can try.
Another option is the test site where players can see how their builds function, apart from testing them out during levels. Players are able to stop the level from completing when something isn’t working and because of that, I haven’t really needed to use this mode. I imagine that it is useful for players who are looking to build complex kitchen designs for scenarios they will publish at a later point.
Finally, there are mods for Automachef. Currently, there are four available (at the time of writing this review), and each presents different food choices like onion rings or steak. Instead of just cooking a steak to one base rareness level, players have to cook it to the specifications of the order (like medium or well done). With the mods, players will be able to add more management fun to an already entertaining game and I love it.
The UI in Automachef is quite intuitive. On the left is a menu screen with two tabs, one labeled Parts and the other is Blueprints. Under the parts tab, different machines available to you are listed. Once you click on a machine, a drop-down appears that displays the power usage, cost, and description. Under the blueprints tab, players can create machine setups that will be frequently used in their kitchens. This comes in handy when playing the burger frenzy optional level where the objective is to crank out 50 plain burgers in under 2 minutes. Your setup has to be fast and efficient to succeed at this level. Trust me. And when you find the right design, making a blueprint goes a long way.
Above the machine list are four buttons: move, duplicate, recipe, and turn camera. The move button allows players to move whole sections of their automated machines, instead of having to individually click on them. Duplicate is self-explanatory. The recipe button shows players what ingredients are needed to complete an order, though it does not tell you what machines are need – something that needs to be figured out by the players. Lastly, there is the turn camera option which twists the camera 45 degrees on the right then left and back to normal again. To me, the camera option is the most useless feature, but I digress…
After setting up the kitchen and when you begin taking orders, the screen changes to have new information displayed on the left. The Level Progress will appear, displaying objectives to succeed such as, the number of dishes delivered, energy used, total ingredients used, food critic orders satisfied, or time left to complete objectives. Underneath those will be power usage and reputation percentage. Reputation is most important in Contracts mode, where players will bolster the rating by successfully completing contracts. In the campaign, the reputation remains at 100%, and thus far, I haven’t determined how important this is in later levels.
When players are fulfilling their objectives, there is a drop-down menu on the right side of the screen which displays useful information like Power Usage, On/Off, Bacteria, Fire Hazard, and Infestation Hazard. All of these display options help determine the success rate of kitchen designs for the player, which is incredibly useful for later levels where some of these kitchen issues are introduced.
Overall, I love how simple and accessible the UI is. It has a lightweight feel to it and I find that because of Automachef’s graphics, it is easy to play on older computers.
Pros and Cons
On the good side of automating food:
- Customers don’t complain if you miss their order (in campaign mode)
- Provides hours of endless entertainment as you perfect your automated kitchen
- Allows for mind-bending puzzle solving
- Has Challenge levels that push players kitchens to the limits
- The companion robot is ambitious and entertaining
- The game runs rather smoothly, even on a laptop that is several years old
- Has several different modes: Campaign, Contracts, Scenario Editor, Test Site, and Mods.
On the bad side of food automation:
- The wait time at the beginning of each level is slightly annoying after a while (especially when you know the level is going to fail and you are trying to troubleshoot the kitchen)
- No option for flipping a blueprint, only copying of a layout is available
- The career mode should really be hidden behind the campaign because it assumes that players know everything before going in. As in, DON’T START IN CAREER MODE FIRST.
- The efficiency rating doesn’t have defined terms to achieve 100%. Up until recently, the highest I could ever achieve was 98%. (Eventually, I completed the first level with 100% efficiency, although I’m not sure why. The tips only tell you criteria to boost your efficiency, but it’s hard to tell how it is calculated.)
- When placing machines in the kitchen, there is an arrow that indicates the direction that the items will move. The issue I have with this is that the arrow isn’t defined well enough. The green color needs to be more vibrant, because when your kitchen is larger, it gets harder to see the outline. However, this might be an issue with playing on a laptop where its graphics aren’t ass good.
- The game does not seem to cloud save if you are playing it through the Twitch games tab. But, on Steam there is cloud saving so don’t panic!