Cast your mind back to EGX and you may remember I came across Overcooked developed by Ghost Town Games at the Team 17 stand surrounded by a crowd of people wearing chefs hats. I liked the potential of Overcooked and what it could bring to a party of friends who fancied a change from the shoot ’em ups and online MMOs of today. So, when the time came for a mini break to a cabin in the woods with a group of our gaming friends, it seemed the right time to buy Overcooked and take it for a spin and believe me when I say it certainly was popular!
The premise is simple. Cook the food and get it out in the right order. If you have worked in a kitchen environment before, then you are well aware of the pressures of a busy service or having to get those orders right every time. The initial kitchens follow this and allow you to get used to the simple controls of moving, picking up, putting down and chopping/washing up. But once those first levels are out of the way, your kitchens become a little more challenging and ludicrous.
First thing to say about this game is that it is local co-op only and although I wish there was an online aspect, I can’t see it working unless everyone has a headset and a good connection. Attempting to do some of the harder levels solo is pretty much impossible unless you are an absolute machine and you might get one or two stars. Even with 2 players, some kitchens are pretty tricky so it certainly benefits from 3-4 players being involved. You have the option of connecting 4 controllers or you can use 1 controller between a pair if you want to go crazy. As there were 6 of us on our little getaway, we took it in turns ensuring everyone had a go and when you were ‘on your break’ you could help (or hinder) by shouting out when dirty plates had arrived, when the kitchen was on fire or what food needed preparing next.
As I said previously, the kitchens are pretty simple to begin with before they start throwing in 2 or 3 different meals or the kitchens begin to have a mind of their own! You could be in space, with the food in a docking area which you need to send to the other side of the kitchen when it’s needed. You could be in the Arctic, with floating, slippy iceberg islands being your only means of getting from one side to the other. Or, you could be in the middle of an active volcano… you get the idea. There were occasions when we would start a level like those described above confident that we would be fine as the group had become a well oiled machine, only to crumble terribly and fail to get stars. Other times, we would exclaim in horror that it would be impossible, only to triumph! Either way, if you don’t get three stars, you’ll certainly be going back to try again and that’s a guarantee!
If you are luckily enough to have friends who will give the game a go (and even if you don’t, you’ll be surprised how quickly people get into it and channel their inner Gordon Ramsey), then you’ll need to know that not everyone can have the same job every time as the kitchens don’t always allow for that sort of planning ahead. You may end up with a designated chopper, plate guy, cooking lady or food delivery cat, but everyone needs to be on the ball when it all hits the fan. One thing to watch for, is the food that’s cooking because once the green tick appears to say it’s done, you need to get it off of the hob or there will be a fire and then you may as well give up unless you have surpassed the goal already. Either way, you’ll spend every second trying to beat the game and you’ll howl in frustration when you’ve picked up the wrong vegetable, dropped the food in the bin rather than plating it or fallen off the edge losing your just completed order.
In all honesty, I love Overcooked. It’s fun, infuriating and will certainly cause you to shout and swear. Because it’s a game about working together, there’s no real competitive element and just allows you to have fun with your friends. If you got the Last Morsel and the Christmas DLC packs, you’ll have more kitchens to contend with that bring crazy, new challenges for you to overcome. It’s bright, clever and completely crazy with lots of characters to choose from and hours of entertainment ahead. If you’re looking for a party game that even your Gran would probably get stuck in to, then Overcooked is definitely one to replace Monopoly at your gatherings.