It turns out too many chefs doesn’t ruin the broth; Overcooked proves that the more chefs you have the more fun you can have. But can this delightfully deranged arcade cook-a-thon satisfy your hunger or is it a mere snack?
In Overcooked you are tasked with preparing a multitude of dishes for hungry customers. You must dash around a variety of kitchens, collecting ingredients, chopping, cooking, plating, serving and cleaning dishes to the whim of customers with particular cravings, scoring more stars depending on how quickly and accurately you serve up your dishes.
It sounds so simple, and indeed the concept is, but in execution it turns out to be anything but. Organising your cooking method to efficiently create your meals is a unique challenge to overcome, one made more difficult by the absurd kitchens you have to cook in. What starts as ordinary kitchens, where learning their layout is your biggest challenge, soon turns into crazy scenarios, such as two trucks with half the kitchen in each, speeding down a road and only crossable during small windows of alignment. It offers a special brand of insanity that’s wonderfully humourous to play within and equally difficult to overcome.
It’s a pleasant surprise to see what concoction of kitchen chaos is presented in each level, and achieving the full three stars is a satisfying goal. Moreover, just as you think you’ve seen all kinds of layouts, new challenges are introduced, such as rats that steal ingredients. But even on the most ordinary of kitchens there’s still plenty to keep you occupied. Performing all the aforementioned tasks swiftly and efficiently is made all the more interesting by having to watch for food burning on the stove and fires blazing as a result, requiring a blast from a fire extinguisher to quell it.
On your own you control two chefs, able to switch between them at the press of a button and share out the tasks. But Overcooked is by far the most enjoyable when you have a friend or three join in for some local multiplayer. Organising your group of chefs requires constant communication and quickly leads to a room full of people shouting for vegetables, meat and plates, or screaming about fire amongst panicked hollering as things get hectic. It’s delightfully entertaining. Additionally you can play competitively, which offers a fun but fleeting experience, cooperative play is certainly the better bet.
On your own however, Overcooked is still a lot of fun. It feels like a very different game, one that’s far less hectic and silly and more of an odd puzzle experience as you try to manage the two chefs so that one isn’t idle for too long.
Unfortunately the multiplayer mayhem is restricted to local play, although it’s certainly well suited to this style, making it hard to fault. It even supports the shared controller method of yore where two players can use each side of a controller. Indeed, as one mistake can send the whole kitchen into disarray and get everybody shouting, local play certainly offers the better experience, although having the option for online would still of been appreciated, and may come in the future.
Driving your group of chefs in their quest to chaotically create meals is a wonderfully ridiculous story. The Onion King and his dog, Kevin, have summoned you to satiate the appetite of The Ever Peckish, a giant spaghetti monster. The collection of crazy levels acts as your training grounds. It’s a simple, odd and amusing way to set the scene that does a tremendous job of setting the silly tone right from the get-go, along with its cute, comical art style.
Indeed, Overcooked offers a terrifically fast paced, multiplayer focused experience, with an incredible variety of levels with additional challenges beyond the primary mechanics, such as icy surfaces you can slip on or ghosts moving things. Meanwhile, a well thought-out single player component keeps things entertaining when you don’t have a room full of friends to cook with.
Thanks to Xbox and Ghost Town Games and Team17 for supporting TiX