In the world of commercial cooking, there is a hierarchy that must be adhered to. What does the apprentice say when the head chef orders them to fetch an ingredient? “Yes, chef!” What about when the head chef wants them to mind a boiling pot? “Yes, chef!” And what if the chef wants their apprentice to eat a raw chicken neck for everyone’s amusement? “Yes…chef.”
Nothing nearly that unpleasant happens in Halfbrick’s Yes Chef!, though. In fact, it’s a cute match-three game wherein a veteran chef teaches his apprentice everything there is to know about combining delightful tastes into a meal worthy of the gods. Gameplay-wise, it differs little from the likes of Candy Crush Saga, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the formula still has its draws.
Yes Chef! slips you into the apron of Cherry, a young girl who dreams of opening her own café. Before she can do so, she needs to follow the instructions of the chef, who tutors her on the fine art of cooking. Granted, “tutoring” in this case simply means Chef shows you how to swap game pieces, use power-ups, thaw ice blocks, and perform other actions that have become commonplace in match-three games.
There are multiple goals to aim for in Yes Chef!. Some levels conclude when you reach a specific point total. Others require you to bring special ingredients like spice bottles down to the bottom of the screen. Still others challenge you to thaw ingredients surrounded by ice by making matches (chef needs to look into a better refrigeration system). The most unique challenge involves making specific matches for café customers looking for a meal.
Yes Chef! isn’t unique. Swap out its veggies for candies, and you essentially have Candy Crush Saga. Interestingly, Yes Chef! is still quite fun to play, even if you think you’ve had your fill of match-three games until the end of digital time. Cherry is so darn cute, you want to do everything possible to help her make a success out of her café – even if matching up cabbage, tomatoes, corn, and fish to come up with a sushi dish at the end of each round is kind of weird (sushi has admittedly been experimented with relentlessly, but has Western society really brewed up any variation that utilizes corn and cabbage?).
Yes Chef! is also relatively fair, which is something that’s nice to say about a free-to-play game. Each level requires energy, but you earn back that energy if you successfully complete the stage. You can also back out of a stage without consequence, so long as you don’t make a move beforehand.
Free-to-play match-three games are pretty notorious for not giving the player enough moves to meet narrow goals, thereby tempting you into spending cash for extra moves or power-ups. While later levels of Yes Chef! do make it difficult to achieve goals within the allotted time limit or number of moves, you don’t feel like you’re being purposefully boxed in. Most levels can be passed after a couple of tries (though three-starring each level is another challenge entirely).
Yes Chef! is a cute and fun match-three game. There isn’t a lot of originality on-hand, but if you’re the type of person that enjoys a predictable steak-and-potato dinner from time to time, its familiarity shouldn’t bother you much.