Overcooked is a game that seemingly came out of nowhere. I had heard very little of it up until a week or two before its release. The videos don’t do the game justice though, it is a genuine treat.
You control a chef from the Onion Kingdom and a giant Spaghetti & Meatball monster is demolishing the Kingdom. Despite your King’s best attempts to quell the beast, through his top chef’s, it’s not enough and doom is imminent. The king comes up with a plan to send his chef’s back in time, train them more in the culinary arts, and hope that it’s enough to quench the beast’s hunger.
That’s the story, lightheartedly fun but unnecessary because the game would be a blast even without it. Ghost Town Games made an amazing cooking co-op action-arcade game in Overcooked and I couldn’t be any happier. I really shouldn’t write this next line, but you’re wasting time reading this review when you could be buying the game right now. If you’re still here, one, thanks for staying. Two, there is one blemish on this otherwise great game you may want to know about.
The game itself feels like a mixture of Diner Dash and Cook, Serve, Delicious. If you’re unfamiliar with either of those two games, I’ll boil it down. Like Diner Dash, you’re frantically moving around the stage to different points of interest. In Overcooked, those points are different cooking stations. From Chopping to cleaning the dishes, you’ll easily find yourself running around like a chicken with its head chopped off. There is some order to the chaos though as you’ll need to make customer’s orders to their specifications much like you do in Cook, Serve, Delicious. So basically, you take ingredients, prepare them, cook them, then serve. I know written out it doesn’t sound like much, but as mundane as that sounds, it’s actually incredibly intense.
The game’s mechanics are easy enough to learn with it’s very simple control scheme. The game is so light on controls that there is a method of play that can split your controller in halves. You can take the left: stick, shoulder button, trigger while your sous chef can use the right: stick, shoulder button, and trigger. I don’t condone using this method as it’s pretty uncomfortable, unless you’re comfortable with your sous chef and wouldn’t mind snuggling up to hold the controller. You know what, no scratch that, I do condone this method. All joking aside, the controls make this game very accessible to anyone with only directions to move your chef, an action button, and a button to pick up items.
As simple as the controls are, the challenge is in the execution. Orders come in quick and each prep station takes a little time to complete. You’ll easily find yourself stacked with orders as the overall time continues ticking down to zero. When you’re playing by yourself, you control two chefs; you swap between the two. But Overcooked adds it’s own ingredient into this genre’s mix by folding in four player co-op. With this addition, things jump from fun to chaotically fun. Strategies will form and those who communicate rise to the top. Everyone will be trying to cover or find coverage for certain tasks and things will get hectic. But that’s the beauty of it, everyone is working together and having fun while doing it.
If the challenge of four people, multiple stations, loads of orders, and the time crunch wasn’t enough, the levels themselves offer players a challenge. Some stages have quirks that require your team to use a different strategy than your last played stage. You may find yourself on a boat with counters that shift as the boat rocks only to find the next level contain four moving trucks with different stations located on each truck. The game never lets up and stages feel new and fresh throughout the game.
If you remember from earlier, I had mentioned that Overcooked has one blemish. Overall the it’s a great party game, having your friends play together and the chaos that ensues is immeasurably exciting in the moment. Even single player is ok, it’s nowhere near as fun as a group of people together but you can still get enjoyment out of it. The issue with Overcooked is that there is no online component. Overcooked is strictly a game that has to be played in the same room. I’m no developer and I can’t begin to explain how difficult, or simple, it is to implement a feature like that but for a game like this that requires a good amount of teamwork, both options should have been there from the start. With voice chat, online co-op would work just as effectively as being on the same couch. It’s definitely a blemish as it alienates a large group of people who could have enjoyed this game.
My time with Overcooked was a blast and it fully gets my recommendation as a buy, even at full price. But be aware that you won’t find nearly as much fun to be had unless you bring together a group who will play in your living room, or kitchen; I’m not one to judge.
A Steam code for Overcooked was provided by the publisher for review purposes.