Overcooked is a chaotic cooking game that offers up to four player co-op fun. You cook various dishes for hungry customers before the time runs out and they leave unsatisfied. The game was developed by Ghost Town Games and published by Team 17.
The game actually has a story which takes place in Onion Town and it comes under attack from a massive spaghetti monster that has an insatiable appetite. The tutorial sees you trying to prepare a meal for the monster but it soon become clear that your cooking skills aren’t up to scratch, the solution being to travel back in time to 1993 in order to learn how to become a master chef and hopefully satisfy the spaghetti monster.
The animations are awesome and the opening cutscene looks great, with well designed characters and lighthearted humour. The main goal during each stage is to prepare and assemble many different ingredients into various meals and try to deliver to hungry customers in time. The game takes places from a top-down perspective and you can play alone, switching between chefs, or with up to three other players. I played mostly on my own and it can get tricky when it comes to managing each different chef.
You run around various environments or kitchens and have to manually pick up ingredients and move them to various work stations and then chop or prepare as required. Once all the needed ingredients have been assembled, you have to then plate up and serve to the customer, whilst avoiding obstacles in your way. The preparation of the food and switching of characters can be hard enough as it is and it gets even more challenging when fires break out or unwashed dishes begin to pile up.
When I first jumped into the game I thought the design looked simple and therefore I thought the gameplay was going to be fairly straight forward, which certainly isn’t the case. The orders you need to prepare appear in the top-left of the screen and each order has a time bar that’s slowly draining away. The quicker you deliver the meals the larger the tips you receive; you also lose points when you fail to serve the meal. The difficulty does scale when more players enter the fray, with target scores rising depending on the amount of co-op players. The game is all about co-ordination and quick thinking and if you’re playing with others its good to have some sort of plan to be more effective. The game can be played solo, which I did, and if anything this can make things even harder as you have to take every action into consideration. Think about the idea of spinning plates and that’s exactly what you have here, as you attempt to juggle multiple tasks at once.
I used to work in a kitchen and I have to say that I hated every moment of it and weirdly, to my surprise I found this game hugely addictive and extremely satisfying, especially when delivering orders in quick times. I have to say though, if you don’t keep on top of things the kitchen can quickly dive into chaos and you can suddenly feel like you’ve lost all control. Each stage or kitchen brings its own series of challenges and obstacles to contend with, like earthquakes and moving trucks.
The controls are nice and simple, which is vital when it comes to a game like this that requires quick thinking and snap decision-making. I used a keyboard, using the spacebar to pick up objects, Ctrl to chop and Shift to switch chefs. You can also play the controller to play, which some players might find easier. There are three obtainable stars per level which are awarded based on how well you do. As you play through stages, you unlock new chefs which have different personalities and styles. It’s also important to mention that the game starts out reasonably easy but it very quickly ramps up in difficulty. The game also has the competitive challenge levels, which sees two teams of chefs racing against each other to prepare the most meals before the time runs out.
The presentation of Overcooked is great and a simple but vibrant design. I really enjoyed and think that the top-down perspective works well as it allows you to get a good clear view of the area you’re working in. The animations are smooth and the game runs really well and I loved seeing the quirky little chefs running about in chaotic fashion. The sound design is also really well done, with many different sound effects happening continuously which adds to the sense of chaos. Overcooked also offers plenty of replayability with the star system, that makes you want to go back and replay stages to reach the best score possible.
Overcooked is a frantic cooking game that will test your timing and skills. I played the game solo but I would recommend playing it with others if you’re able to do so as it seems like it would be much more fun to work alongside others, much like in a real kitchen. The game has a simplistic style but still feels playful and vibrant, with a fun narrative giving the gameplay purpose. I would certainly recommend this game if you like a challenge or playing with friends.
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