Overcooked Review

By Marc Hollinshead, 4 months ago
Cooking isn't really my strong suit. My friends and family will agree with me when I say that the most extravagant dish that I can cook up amounts to beans on toast, or something with pasta in it if you're lucky. As gaming is my forte, a game that's all about cooking may be the only way to widen my horizons when it comes to gourmet cuisine. Overcooked is a strategy title that has you serving plate after plate of delicious, yummy goodness, but this time it's to save the world. Is this a title into which both novice cooks and world renowned chefs can sink their teeth?

Overcooked

Overcooked invites you in with a simple menu and looping theme, but it's only here where you'll have a moment of relaxation. The game immediately begins in what can only be described as a food apocalypse where the evil "Ever Peckish" has returned with an insatiable appetite. Quickly realising that its appetite cannot be satiated after a short tutorial level, the aptly named onion king of the onion kingdom takes you back in time so that you can fully prepare for the impending attack. It may be one of the most peculiar stories ever to be told in a game, but it helps to give context as to why you're travelling far and wide with your ever-growing cooking skills. We aren't playing this for the story, though, so don't worry if you find yourself rolling your eyes or holding back a laugh when witnessing certain story related segments.

It all comes down to the gameplay with Overcooked and there are a number of levels in which you will be using your oven mitts. The game presents you with an interactable world map where you'll drive your bus to each of the levels and it is very easy to navigate. Levels come in groups that focus on specific environments. Once a set has been completed, you will be checking back with the onion king who informs you on your progress. You begin in a basic kitchen at first, but eventually you will be cooking on pirate ships, in haunted houses, and even in the Arctic serving fish and chips to penguins while sliding around on a large block of ice. There is a decent amount of variety here and as you make your way further into the game, levels gain more obstacles and the challenge is amplified.

When you get to these levels, don't expect an easy rideWhen you get to these levels, don't expect an easy ride

In these levels, you will be given control of at least two chefs and the aim is to create meals and serve them as fast as possible in the given time limit. You will need to gather the required ingredients from the provided crates, chop them up, cook them and finally serve them on a plate before you give them to the hungry customer. This sounds easy enough, but the catch is that every order has its own specific time limit, and if you don't complete it quickly enough, you will fail that order and decrease your overall level score as a result. It starts off fairly smoothly with just one or two orders to get you going, but eventually you could have five orders ticking down and this is where you'll need to become strategic. Every step in preparing a meal takes a little time, and so it is always best to plan ahead and have one chef taking care of chopping ingredients while the other keeps an eye on the boiling pan or fryer before they overheat and potentially cause a fire. It can become chaotic but at the same time it is wildly entertaining rushing around the kitchen and throwing ingredients onto every possible counter. The faster that you complete orders, the better the tip that you will receive. This is added onto your overall score and you will be scored out of three stars depending on how well you do. If you want to successfully complete a level, you will need to get at least one star or it's back to the chopping board.

Overcooked can be played in either single player or local co-op, and this is where opinions on the game may split depending in which mode you primarily play. There is no AI whatsoever, so if you play in single player then you will have to control two chefs by yourself, and obviously you can't control both at the same time. This means that while you are having one chef move around the kitchen, the other is standing around doing nothing and it turns into a complete waste of time. On your own, some of the harder levels can feel nigh-on impossible to complete as things can quickly become overwhelming as you try to figure out what each chef should be doing while also traversing through various obstacles, not to mention keeping on top of how long each order has left. The aim in these instances is to have one chef doing something that takes a little time like chopping or washing plates while you move the other to where they need to be. Of course, this works in theory but when you have parts of the level that are constantly moving or a lot of ingredients in many places, it's easy to lose track. As you progress, the game is definitely tougher on your own.

Don't just stand there, you all have jobs to do!Don't just stand there, you all have jobs to do!

Co-op lets you have up to four separate local players tackling the kitchen and this means that everyone can focus on their one chef and specific jobs. Orders can still mount up and gaining the illusive three star rating can still be tricky, but it feels much more attainable when you bring friends along. With a friend, the entertainment is also heightened simply by how amusing the chaos can be. The game was clearly designed with co-op in mind and while single player is a perfectly viable option, having a helping hand to get you through the harder levels is definitely something that you're going to need.

Aside from the main campaign, Overcooked has one other mode on offer. Again, friends will be needed for this one but instead of working as a team, you will be battling against each other for the better score. Versus mode lets you take on a friend in levels that have been unlocked in the campaign. While controlling two chefs in side-by-side restaurants, you will need to whip up as many dishes as possible to come out with the better score. It works in exactly the same way as the rest of the game and while it can provide some enjoyment, you will spend the majority of your time working your way through the story levels. That's all there really is to Overcooked. Play through the sets of campaign levels, earn stars, or play competitively against friends. The content on offer is fun, but after an hour or so it may start to become repetitive. The game is great in short bursts but only the most hardcore of fans will want to remain for longer sessions.

It's times like this where you'll need to start thinking strategicallyIt's times like this where you'll need to start thinking strategically

The achievements of Overcooked don't add up to a lot. Altogether there are just 11 achievements and most of them will be gained through naturally exploring everything that the game has to offer. The one that you will give you trouble, though, is gaining three stars on every campaign level. If you want this one, make sure to bring a friend along with you. It's a doable list for the most part, but dedication will be needed for that final achievement.

Summary

Overcooked is an enjoyable little game. It's a simple concept that is executed well, albeit with a ludicrous story. You'll quickly get the gist of the basic gameplay, but as you progress then you will realise that strategic thinking and a few quick reflexes will be required to come out victorious. Trying to make it to the end in single player can be daunting, so playing in co-op is definitely the way to go if you're in it for the long haul. Playing Versus mode is an amusing distraction, but it won't deter you from the main campaign for very long. As there isn't a behemoth of content on offer (depending on your strategy skills), playing the game both with a friend and in short bursts is where you'll see it at its full potential, so it works as a game for a quick bit of downtime. Whether you're a long-time fan of strategy titles or someone looking to whet their appetite with something new, Overcooked may satisfy your cravings even if it is just for a short while.
3.5 / 5
Positives
  • Gameplay is both easy to play and suitably challenging to master
  • Good variety of level designs
  • Great fun in co-op
Negatives
  • Can become overwhelming when in single player
  • Becomes repetitive after extended periods of play
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent four hours cooking his way through a wide variety of kitchens both on his own and with a friend, and earned 7 of the game's achievements in the process. A code for the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Marc Hollinshead
Written by Marc Hollinshead
To summarize Marc in two words, it would be "Christian Gamer." You will usually find him getting stuck into story heavy action-adventure games, RPG's and the odd quirky title when he isn't raving about Dark Souls and Mass Effect. Outside the world of gaming, Marc attends and helps out in his church on a regular basis and has a not-so thrilling job in a supermarket.