Chef Umami is in a class of games that I had seen at previous Playcrafting events but didn't have the time to check out. Thankfully, the TechRaptor team spent over 20 hours on the ground at Play NYC and I had plenty of time to drop by developer PINX's booth and see what this adorable little cooking game was all about.
I walked up to the developer's booth and was fortunate to discover that a seat has just freed up. I was able to hop right into the game and give it a whirl. Chef Umami is pretty straightforward: a customer pops up with a request for a certain kind of food. You grab the ingredients, prepare them appropriately, cook them, and serve up the food to your customer. They give you a rating ranging from one to five stars and the next person walks up with a different order. That, in a nutshell, is Chef Umami.
This casual cooking game has a number of pre-existing customers for you to experience as you make your way through various dishes. After you've worked your way through them, you'll start to see procedurally-generated people who might ask for unusual recipes made up of strange ingredients.
For a touchscreen game, the controls worked pretty darn well. You would pan the camera around by swiping to access different areas of the kitchen. Grabbing food or utensils was simply a matter of tapping them and then using them. The knife even appeared to have the ability to chop up food in different sizes; the tomato that I had awkwardly prepared came out in various large chunks that weren't remotely uniform. It didn't seem like some kind of programming trick, either—the knife cut exactly where I had it lined up. I just sucked at cutting equally-sized slices, something that is all the more evident whenever I try my hand at real-world cooking.
The art style of Chef Umami is plainly adorable and the gameplay is simple. It's a very casual gameplay experience; there are no leaderboards or super difficult challenges for you to overcome. A person walks up, you make a meal for them, and then the next person comes along. I found the short bit of time I had with the game very relaxing, and I'm sure it'd do a great job of keeping kids occupied for a while, especially those that like to play pretend chef.
Chef Umami is currently available on iOS for $2.99 or your regional equivalent. I don't own any iDevices and I was quite happy to hear from one of the developers that the game should be making its way to Android by the end of the year. You can sign up on the game's website to be notified for when it launches to Google Play.
Do you enjoy cooking games? Is it important for there to be levels and scores or would you not at all mind a more casual experience? Let us know in the comments below! Check out what else we saw at Play NYC by going to our Play NYC 2018 Coverage Hub.