Developer: Ghost Town Games Ltd.
Publisher: Team17 Digital Ltd
Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4
Tested on: Xbox One
Overcooked – Review
Truth be told, it’s been a while since any good co-op party games were released on consoles, as more and more things are being shoved to online modes, and more than often games you’d expect to have local multiplayer are left without. Today we have a rather quirky title that might just add that extra spice to the genre, which often lost its flavor. Rare, medium rare, medium, medium well or well done, Overcooked offered us a savory experience.
It’s the end of days, the world is facing destruction, if it weren’t for you (and your friends) who happen to be masterchefs, who could be able to stop the ‘Ever Peckish’, a giant meatball monster, with spaghetti as tentacles. While this would serve as a good background story for the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, it’s actually a very amusing plot for this title as well. Even though you’re a master of the kitchen and are used to making conventional dishes on rather peculiar locations, you lack the necessary experience, skills and finesse to make this giant monster happy. However, don’t fret, the king of the Onion Kingdom sends you back in time to 1993, to hone your skills even further and prepare for the judgment day where it’s eat or be eaten. Overall things stay simple during the campaign, but the addition of a simple, yet witty plot, makes things very pleasant and creates a certain drive to keep pressing forward.
Like a true party game, Overcooked has a very cute appearance, but the developers haven’t traded details just to make things look adorable. The game offers you a wide range of different levels, each with their own quirks and distinguishable features, which will surely pop out from time to time. The characters themselves look like beefed up Fisher-Price toys, and present you with a wide variety of funny caricatures. If you’re tired of the rather average looking chefs, you can always try out a zombie, or even a cat-like creature in a wheelchair. The dishes and items you work with look rather simple, but if you take a closer look, even the smaller details have been properly taken care of. The flashy colors smudged on this entire digital pasty dish make the game even more appetizing.
Overcooked’s soundtrack is one you’d never expect in a game like this. The music is both adventurous, as well as extremely catchy. You’d never imagine, when listening to the score on its own that this would go hand in hand with a game that revolves around cooking, with very amusing looking characters in the lead. Truth be told, there are many adventure games that could learn a thing or two from this small party game, and it also shows that choosing an uncommon soundtrack for a title such as this might actually become something that matches a game perfectly.
The sound effects that provide you with the proper ‘kitchen’ noises are authentic and never become tedious, no matter how many times you have to do the same course. These effects also tend to be lifesavers, as some will certainly help you prevent burning or overcooking your ingredients.
Overcooked is a party game that revolves completely around cooking and teamwork, if you want to create proper dishes and hand them out to paying customers. The concept of this game is extremely simple, but working in this digital kitchen is quite hectic and you’ll have to keep your wits about and divide the different tasks and chores accordingly.
Overall things are aimed at local cooperative play, and thus we’ll discuss the mechanics for this and then compare it with when you’d rather fly (or cook in this case) solo. Every mission in the campaign presents you with different dishes you can make, often in the same category, and of course many different obstacles you’ll have to overcome. You’ll quickly notice that teamwork, as well as great communication will make the difference between simply passing the level you’re in, or scoring three stars, which will be needed to unlock the endgame levels for the campaign. Nonetheless, you’ll often have the same things at your disposal, namely an unlimited supply of ingredients, pots, pans, ovens, plats and your trustworthy workstations where you process ingredients.
Things remain rather simple when it comes to creating the actual dishes, as most of the time you’ll simply need a plate, chop up the right ingredients, which can be served raw, boiled, fried or baked, and then you’ll have to serve your finished dish and you will be good to work on the next one. Of course, dillydallying and making mistakes might give you lower tips or even worse, make you lose points. Nonetheless, the frantic gameplay can become rather structured, if you and your teammate see eye to eye. At the beginning of the game you’ll often have rather easy areas to work in, sometimes with different working stations and the game will gradually enforce teamwork, as sometimes you can’t reach one another, thus you’ll have to divide the work. This often means that you’ll have to pass on ingredients, while for example, one area is used to ‘harvest’ the ingredients and cook processed ingredients, while the other station has to chop them up first and wash the dishes allowing you to serve a proper meal. This means some stages have a lot of going back and forth, which is actually rather exciting, as well as hectic. From then on you’ll also be treated to wacky environments like cooking in the middle of a lake of lava, a frozen tundra, a spaceship or even moving cars. This makes sure that the game stays interesting and simply hilarious when you and your friends are running in circles, simply to get some tomato soup to one of your paying customers.
Overcooked doesn’t have that many different dishes you’ll have to create, but with the different combinations possible on some of the available ones, you’ll have more than enough to do. Seeing you’ll often have different orders, you can’t just wing it and keep serving the same meal over and over again. You’ll have people who are just fond of meat, and don’t like their veggies, or perhaps someone who doesn’t like a pizza with everything on it, and so on. This also means that if you keep certain customers waiting for too long, they will skip their meals altogether and you can forget your revenue. Nonetheless, you can simply keep the dish intact until someone else orders the same course and you also don’t have to be shy to drop some ingredients or processed foods on the floor, as you can simply pick them up again and continue whatever it is you were doing. Truth be told, sometimes it’s actually easier if someone quickly tosses a few items around for the other player to pick them up.
For a game that could have been pretty much perfect, it comes with one hefty flaw, namely it forces you to get three stars on many levels if you wish to unlock the last levels before the campaign’s finale. While it’s relatively easy to get two out of three stars for most levels, getting three stars often proves to be quite tricky. In many ways the game keeps its appeal intact and does motivate you to press on and beat your original scores, it also gets tedious when you just can’t reach the desired score to get that perfect star rating.
Overcooked isn’t all about cooperative play, as you can also opt to tackle the campaign mode on your own. Of course this makes things a tad more complicated and difficult, as you’ll have to control two characters. Controlling the second character is done by switching from one to another, which you could easily do when one is chopping up ingredients or doing the dishes. At first things are rather hard to get used to, but before you know it people might even guess there’s two players currently playing. It seems the game also allows you to work ‘together’ as chopping up items and doing the dishes takes a bit longer than when you’re playing the two player mode.
As you make progress in the campaign mode, you’ll gradually start unlocking versus maps, which is the competitive mode for two to four players, who will then battle to gain the most points. Overall things remain the same as the campaign, but you’ll just need to strive to get the most points. Those that are ‘solo’ in one of the two teams will simply have to make do with the single player mechanics, namely constantly switch between your two characters.
This frantic little party game is a digital culinary orgasm that’s all about teamwork and hilarious situations that are bound to happen sooner or later. An epic soundtrack for a game that revolves around making food, together with a funny looking cast will provide you several hours worth of fun, and while the later levels in the campaign might be tricky to unlock, the game keeps motivating you to keep on playing. If you’re a fan of party games, with simple yet rewarding gameplay, Overcooked might be worth considering as your next main dish.