Cooking sims, I’ve played my fair share of them throughout the years, from Cooking Mama, to mobile games, they’re simple games which require you to put bits together to create a meal. However, none of these games are quite as panic inducing and hilarious as Overcooked, Team 17s latest game which puts you and up to three friends in charge of your own kitchen.
Overcooked takes the basic idea of those cooking sims and turns it on its head. You get a recipe, the ingredients for said recipes, and a handful of orders to complete with four minutes to complete as many as you can. However, the game requires you to communicate and work together to get the job done, otherwise disaster will strike, and when things go up in flames you’re basically screwed.
At its core, Overcooked is a multiplayer party game. You can play the game by yourself, but I’ll be frank, it’s no fun, trust me I tried to enjoy it, but I could barely get passed the third level. I will however applaud Team17 for offering the single player option and not holding back on making it just as awkward as the multiplayer portion. Where the game really shines though is in a room full of people shouting at each other as they panic chop an onion.
Throw one or two additional players into the mix and boom, you’ve got one of the most fun party games I’ve played for a long time. In this game communication is the key as more often than not the awkward layout of the kitchens you’re thrown into require players to take on roles. To make things even awkward, some levels shift, meaning these pre-assigned roles often need to be switched out on the fly as the counters rock from side to side.
The game begins pretty simply with a soup recipe. These soups require to simply pile in three lots of certain veggies while making sure the pot doesn’t over cook and set alight. In the single player mode, you control two chefs, switching between them using one of the shoulder buttons. With multiplayer, players control their own individual chefs, which make it slightly easier to keep an eye on the pan. Though things can still quickly get out of hand.
Interestingly, despite the games comedic drive, it’s surprisingly complex as players are required to do a multitude of tasks as fast as possible such as fetch the ingredients, chopping them up, cook them, plate the meal up, deliver it, and wash the plates which come back from the restaurant floor. All this while making sure the food doesn’t burn, which isn’t as easy as it sounds.
The further you progress through the game the more difficult and intense these orders and locations become. One level had my wife and I tasked with feeding fish and chips to the local residents of an icy tundra. Simple, we thought. That was until we rapidly learned that the ice was actually incredibly slippery, and my paraplegic raccoon power-slid right into the water carrying our first completed order. From here things just went from bad to worse, as the second order of fish which we’d left in the fryer for a little too long, had gone up in flames. My wife, ran to grab the extinguisher, only to overshoot and take her and the extinguisher in the water. At the same time all surrounding counters caught fire too. With three seconds until I respawned, we watched in what felt like slow motion as the entire kitchen caught ablaze.
Next time around we decided to take things much slower, which helped, but we didn’t get nearly enough orders out. Pushing out orders rewards players with points, the more points you earn, the higher the star reward at the end. However, if you’re late you’ll be docked points, so the race is really on as orders pile up and you’re left wondering why there’s an empty burger bun on the side and your team mate is yet to pass you any ingredients.
While the game begins with you running around like a headless chicken, later levels have more interesting designs that require some quick thinking before things start to go to hell. One level had players fighting for space requiring players to go around the entire kitchen in order to get the things they needed. Players couldn’t pass each other, so everyone had to go in the same direction, which made things hilariously awkward. Another split players into two rooms separated by a sushi-restaurant-like conveyor belt. One chef had the ingredients, sink, and oven, the other chef had the chopping boards and the service hatch. You can imagine how insane that situation quickly became.
In order to progress through Overcooked you need to earn stars, these stars sort-of become currency as later levels require you to have a certain number before you can take on the challenge. This isn’t necessarily a new concept, but it did strike hilarious horror onto our faces as we realised we needed to go back to previous levels and do better. Reluctantly we attempted some levels we’d only achieved one or two stars on and to our surprise we realised we’d actually became a lot better at the game, which was quite pleasant.
While Overcooked is probably one of the best party games I’ve ever played – honestly, I’ve never laughed so much in my life – there is one slight down side: the game’s lack of online multiplayer. Sure, I imagine the game wouldn’t be quite the same over mic, but the option to attempt such a feat would have been nice.
There’s so much I want to say about Overcooked, but I don’t want to ruin the surprises, of which the game has many. What I will say is that it’s an absolute hoot and if you have friends or family who like playing party games, this is one you NEED to own.