Grab a friend or three and head into the world of Overcooked, where you’ll need to work together to cook burgers, burritos and other meals across slippery icebergs, haunted houses and pirate ships.
Overcooked is, quite honestly, one of the most fun games we’ve played in a long time. I’ve sat alongside the wife spending many an hour dashing around Overcooked‘s kitchens, giggling and yelling at each other in our remarkably bad attempts at conquering the game’s crazy environments. We were bombarded by food orders, kept falling off maps, and failed often — and we loved it.
Adventures through thyme and spice
Overcooked sounds simple in principle. You’ll receive food orders, such as tomato soup or onion soup, and you’ll have to fetch the relevant ingredients, chop them, cook and serve. Each action has its own spot around the kitchen: crates supply ingredients, chopping boards for slicing and dicing, stoves for boiling or searing. Meals have to be served on a plate, which are in short supply; most levels require you to also collect used, dirty dishes and wash them up ready for reuse.
While you’ll start out with straightforward soup orders, you’ll soon start learning new recipes such as burgers, and food orders will start varying; one order might want a burger with lettuce and tomato, another may want it plain. While most zones have one dominant meal that is ordered, later levels get a little sneaky and will require you to juggle making multiple meal types, each with varying combinations.
We found ourselves going back and replaying levels many times, because even if they were difficult, we still had fun.
Where the game gets delightfully tricky is its diverse array of progressively crazier kitchens. Work in a pirate ship kitchen and you’ll find your countertops periodically sliding around the deck, forcing you to adapt on the fly to the rearranged layout. Other kitchens have conveyor belts to pass ingredients or meals to and fro, pitch-black haunted houses intermittently illuminated by lightning, or are trucks driving at high speed and occasionally drifting apart. We won’t even get started on the icebergs and how often you’ll slide right off into the freezing waters.
Each order has a timer; complete the order quickly and you’ll get bonus tips, but failing to send an order out before it expires penalises your profits. Coins earned in a level act as your score, and determine your star rating up to a maximum of three stars. Levels all have a minimum star count to access, so as you reach the last few areas you’ll find yourself needing to go back and perfect some of the earlier kitchens you may have struggled on.
In most games, having to replay levels to hit a required score is aggravating; Overcooked doesn’t have this problem. We found ourselves going back and replaying levels many times, because even if they were difficult, we still had fun.
The simple controls and concept make it easy for anyone to grab a controller and jump into the action
Besides dashing around fetching and chopping ingredients, you’ll need to keep a close eye on anything that’s cooking — leave them on the stove for more than a few seconds past fully cooked and they’ll start beeping and flashing. You’ll need to pull it off of the stove quickly, because if left unattended for a short time longer, it’ll catch on fire, ruining the meal. Flames spread quickly throughout a kitchen, so be aware of where fire extinguishers are, because you will end up causing a few fires here and there.
Alongside the standard co-op campaign, Overcooked also has versus modes, where two teams compete to see who can fulfill the most orders and earn the most cash. Progress in the campaign unlocks additional versus levels, which tend to be slightly trickier varieties of those found in the campaign.
Having four players really shines here, and this is also where Overcooked does something very clever for people who can’t connect up four individual controllers — thanks to its simple control scheme, Overcooked offers split controller mode lets two people share a single controller, each using one analog stick and half the buttons.
Sitting down with a friends to play Overcooked is a blast. It nails the fine line between difficulty and derpiness in such a way that you can’t help but play just a few more levels. The simple controls and concept make it easy for anyone to grab a controller and jump into the action, and the more challenging levels will keep aficionados coming back to get those three-star ratings. In short: We love it.