Overcooked: Where Animal Crossing Meets Kitchen Nightmares
Recently, a couple of us from The Geek Lyfe (namely Gumbers and Powerforce of Brostalgia) sat down and took the time to play Overcooked on Steam. If I had to sum up the game in one word, it’d probably have to be “chaos.” Luckily for everybody reading though, I’m not restricted to just one word. Let’s go ahead and dive into a full course meal of descriptive details and comparisons to other games!! Ok not really, this will be a pretty basic review of a game that we spent around 45 minutes with. But I’ll try my best to be informative and keep you entertained!
I’d like start off by saying that this was my first experience with this game. Powerforce, my sous-chef during this adventure, had previously played the game and played through a good portion of the tutorial levels. The resulting experience was a series of exasperated sighs and more than a few minor freak-outs trying to keep our chibi little game customers happy. The game can most accurately be described as a party game, with up to 4 player co-op, a series of different game modes, and levels designed to make a chef of even Gordon Ramsey’s caliber want to hang up the big white hat and take up scrapbooking. The concept is simple. You get an order that displays at the top of the screen, chop and prepare the ingredients, cook what needs to be cooked, place everything on a plate, send it out the the customer, and move on to the next dish. It gets a bit tricky when you have to deal with cleaning dirty dishes in between preparation, but nothing you can’t handle. Then the level smacks the spatula out of your hand and makes you its bitch.
The basic concept of preparing the proper meals within a time limit with the right ingredients is central throughout Overcooked. That’s the objective and nothing changes about that. What ultimately adds variety to the game is the level design. Preparing a plate of fish and chips is pretty standard, but then try preparing that same dish when half of the level raises up without you, or on a swaying ship that causes your prep stations to move away from you, or on a sheet of ice in the middle of the ocean that causes you to slip off of the side, bringing up Vietnam-esc flashbacks of ice levels in Super Mario games. A level design can literally change the type of game that you’re playing.
In versus mode, when playing with 2 players, each person controls 2 characters that they switch between in order to maximize their meal preparation efforts. Well, that’s the nice explanation for why each player controls 2 characters. We all know the actual reason is to destroy your brain with trying to multitask. A level design can take this pretty basic concept and create all sorts of diverse gameplay. One level could isolate all 4 characters, so it’s just about switching between 2 characters and managing your time and space while making each character care an equal amount of the workload. Another level we played had 1 character each isolated with their own cooking and prep supplies (Stoves, pots, cutting board, plates, etc.) while the other 2 characters (1 each) were in an open area together with the task of grabbing the ingredients and placing them on the cutting board for their buddy to chop and prepare. They then had to take the finished dish over to be sent to the customer. To translate that into layman’s terms, the goal of the characters in the open space together was the screw over their opponents by stealing their ingredients and not letting them chop and prepare the meals.
Overall, Overcooked was very entertaining. There is a wide variety of silly characters, there’s a clear learning curve that yields a sense of accomplishment with each new milestone, there’s plenty of ridiculous moments to be shared with other players, and at $16.99 ($20.00 for the “Gourmet Edition), there’s enough replayability to justify picking it up and inviting people over for a good ol’ fashioned cook off!
For a visual representation, here’s a video of us playing and my struggle with learning. Bon Appetit!