Published on August 1st, 2016 | by Coppert4nk2
Review – Overcooked
If you’re a fan of restaurant sim games like Cook, Serve, Delicious!, or Diner Dash, then Overcooked may be the kind of game you’ve been waiting for. When I heard it was a cooking game that has an emphasis on co-op/competitive play with your buddies, I was psyched to add this game to my library.
Upon entering the title screen, you are met with a cookbook that opens and becomes the main menu. Campaign, Versus (which is unlocked after a short amount of campaign progression is made), Options, and Quit are listed. Under the Options sub-menu, you have very limited pre-made graphic settings, audio level adjusters, and a controller scheme setup. Some may be disappointed in how little is offered in the options, but I don’t believe that advanced settings are necessary for a game like this. It’s worth noting that this review covers the beta version of the game and that things may change before it is officially released.
After choosing Campaign, you and your teammates will decide on which chef to play as (they’re all adorable!) and then be off on your adventure. The premise of the story is entertaining and very simple, taking place in the near future where the Onion Kingdom is under attack by an unknown force. Your chefs are on top of a skyscraper in a city surrounded by strife, the sky is red, and meteors are crashing down as the surrounding buildings are engulfed in flames. The Onion King and his canine companion, Kevin, have called your chefs together to help fight off the chaos and save the Kingdom. It is during this time that you are given a brief tutorial on how to play the game.
Unable to fend off what appears to be a monster made of spaghetti and meatballs by serving it salads (yes, this actually happens), the Onion King hastily tells you to jump into his time portal. On the other side, you land in a throne room riddled with stacked soup cans. The year is now 1993, and you must use the time ahead of you to master the art of cooking so that you can save the Onion Kingdom from complete destruction. After leaving the throne room, you enter a stage selection screen. You take control over what looks like a food truck, driving over a map that dynamically expands as you complete each stage.
The gameplay is reminiscent of something you’d see in a Mario Party mini-game; you have a top-down view of your kitchen and must navigate around it to various stations to perform specific cooking tasks. Customer orders will appear in the top left hand of the screen, and you must complete them as quickly and as accurately as possible within the stage’s time limit, giving you a sense of urgency. The quicker you prepare a customer’s order and serve it, the more the customer will tip you extra coins beyond what the dish is worth
All the while, you must be careful not to undercook the dish or forget an ingredient. If you leave food on the stove for too long, a fire will break out and you must use the fire extinguisher to stop the flames from devouring the rest of your kitchen. You are also given a limited amount of plates to serve food on and must clean dirty dishes before serving on them again. After completing each stage, you will receive a rating between one and three stars based on how many coins you earned. After receiving a collective total of stars higher than 10, you will unlock the first competitive map. As one would expect in Versus Mode, chefs are pitted against one another in a cook-off. Different competitive maps can continually be unlocked for this mode, each with their own set of recipes and kitchen hazards that chefs must endure to win the round.
The graphic style of this game is very cute and quirky. The characters and environment are cartoonish, somewhat reminding me of Animal Crossing (maybe not AS cute).
When I received the game, I attempted to play Overcooked on my own before inviting others to play with me. When jumping into the campaign with no other players, you are given two chefs to control. While this does help with your productivity to some degree, it’s still difficult given that you are only able to move one chef at a time. Even though you can freely switch between chefs with a press of a button, I still found that a majority of time one would be just standing there while I try to get the other to its next task. Having one or more other players helps significantly, since each player is only responsible for one chef. Do note that this causes the coins required for the star rating to scale up as it is based on how many players are in the game. There also comes a new kind of difficulty in that everyone must coordinate their cooking tasks and communicate with one another so that issues won’t arise when making a dish that’s been ordered. Bear in mind that Overcooked only offers local multiplayer – no online play. I believe that this is the kind of game that you should be playing on a couch with your friends instead of communicating via a headset in an already chaotic game environment. However, if anyone wanted to play with a friend that is too far away to invite to their home they unfortunately don’t have that option.
Speaking of playing on a couch, you will definitely want to play this game with a controller. While it is definitely possible to play with a keyboard, the game offers little to no direction on what keys need to be pressed other than pressing the spacebar to get past the title screen. The rest of the controls displayed during the tutorial process are all Xbox controller buttons. I decided to give the keyboard controls a try since I was at my desk the first time I played this game, but was only able to get food on the cutting board before having to press keys at random to figure out which one would make my chef start chopping.
One other noteworthy feature of Overcooked is that you can use its “Split Controller” mode, which allows you to bind one half of the controller for total control of one chef. Have a buddy over and only have one controller? No problem! Just use Split Controller mode and share your controller with a friend. Don’t have any friends? See if you’re up to the challenge of controlling two cooks simultaneously with one controller.
As the game progresses you will unlock new chefs to play with and new maps to compete on. In return, you are given challenges by preparing more complex recipes as well as new environments that must be overcome. Said environments include earthquakes that will temporarily split your kitchen in half, pedestrians that get in your way as you cook on the street, or thieving rats that will only come out from under the counter to steal some of your valuable ingredients. One of my favorite levels requires you to cook on a swaying pirate ship.
Overcooked is 20% off if you preorder now and will be released on August 3rd – available on Steam, Playstation 4, and Xbox One.
A Great Couch Co-Op Experience
Summary: I can’t get enough of this game. Playing it alone is possible, but it’s not nearly as enticing as playing with friends. While I consider it an excellent couch co-op game, it has the potential to be a perfect multiplayer game if online is ever added somewhere down the road.