Overcooked 2 Review: Mise En Place
Kalvin Martinez / Oct 8th, 2018 No Comments
Most of us will never work in a professional kitchen or any other type of food service. We’ll never know the exhilarating highs and lows of a dinner service or the pressure of prep. “Mise en place” may be a foreign term except for when we hear it in an episode of Top Chef. But secretly, we all pine for that type of terrifying high-pressure scenario.
Overcooked 2 is yet another opportunity for us to live out our fantasy line cook life. It improves upon the tenants of the first game with more complex levels and recipes, and additional mechanics. If you thought you had yelled at your significant other for forgetting to cut the fish for the last time, you’re wrong.
Take Back the Kingdom!
The Onion Kingdom is in grave danger. It has been overrun by the unbread after the King read from The Book of Everlasting Culinary Greatness. It is up to you to stop this menace by traveling across the kingdom cooking delicious meals and showing off the power of teamwork.
Overcooked 2’s story is very basic. Things aren’t right in the kingdom, but cooking is the path to salvation. What the plot lacks in intricacy or artifice, it more than makes up for in charm and humor. Most of the story occurs between your travels through different parts of the kingdom, when you stop back at the castle to check in with the King.
The King is a complete goof who set these terrible events into motion. Now, he is asking you (and one to three of your friends) to clean up his mess.
Most of the vignettes involve the King asking you to go to another part of the kingdom, so the exposition is typically high. However, there is often a fun joke or two between the King and his dog, Kevin, making the proceedings a delightful farce. In terms of a meal, they are nice palette cleansers to the intense and frenetic pace of the kitchen.
Team Building/Team Destroying
Overcooked 2’s gameplay retains the same core mechanics of its predecessor but contains some fun wrinkles. The majority of what you and your friends will be doing involves prepping, cooking, plating, serving and cleaning. While that sounds simple in practice, it is anything but.
What makes the experience so intense and harrowing is the complications thrown your way. Difficulties come in the kitchen layout and obstacles, but most challenges come from lack of communication or ability to delegate tasks in a cohesive manner. Like being in an actual kitchen, if you’re trying to do everything on your own, you’re going to find yourself in a lot of trouble fast.
Even though the kingdom is in grave danger, you aren’t thrown into the deep end right off the bat. Both the recipes and kitchens at the start of the game are basic. This gives you and your partner(s) an opportunity to get a feel for the controls and mechanics. But even with a firm grasp on gameplay, it is not hard to find yourself in the weeds. The one mechanic the game doesn’t teach you is teamwork.
Teamwork is the greatest asset in Overcooked 2. It is not explicitly stated, but your first disaster in a kitchen where you don’t even get one star makes it clear that without cooperation and delegation, you won’t be considered fit to boil water. Figuring out this essential skill is extremely difficult, but it is necessary because the kitchens get more challenging and recipes become more complex.
You’ll be required to prepare, cook and serve a variety of dishes. From a mixed green salad to burritos and pizzas, you are tasked with making sure orders go out in a timely manner. The quicker you serve dishes, the higher your point count will be.
Preparing dishes becomes more complicated as meals get more complex and ingredient counts increase. Every customer has a different taste, and they’ll ask you for an order tailored to their liking. Making things even messier, eventually you’ll be ask to make multiple dishes. This is where teamwork becomes essential. If you aren’t figuring out a way to deal with orders, you’ll miss tickets and start losing points quickly.
Describing the tasks players must complete in Overcooked 2 — such as cutting potatoes or frying chicken — makes it hard to understand why the game is a challenge. Much like being in a professional kitchen, you have to experience it firsthand to know the pressure and dizzying pace of service. That is what the game does best — make you feel as stressed and haggard as a participant in Top Chef’s Restaurant Wars.
Unlike an actual kitchen, Overcooked 2 uses the conventions of video games to be as fanciful as possible in how it throws obstacles at you. Whether it is using constantly changing treadmills or hot air balloons constantly moving to change the layout, you never know how you’ll be impeded until you begin service. Overcoming these incredible obstacles requires fast thinking and strategic planning.
To help overcome the obstacles that put you and your partners at distance from one another, Overcooked 2 has added a throw mechanic. This allows you to throw raw ingredients across a stage. It becomes super helpful for a particularly tough set of river boat kitchens, but it also becomes a hack for reducing your steps in less divided kitchens. Time is your enemy, so any little bit that can help you serve faster is a boon.
One of the major changes to Overcooked 2 over its predecessor is the addition of online multiplayer. As fun as the first game is, it can be hard to get into the co-op action when trying to organize schedules. The addition of online play makes it so much easier. However, it also has the numerous pitfalls of online co-op play.
Cooperation and communication is a major aspect of Overcooked 2’s gameplay. In online play, that is lost (at least for the Switch). Without being able to delegate and communicate, you’re left with a bunch of people stepping on each other’s toes. It retains the chaotic and FUBAR feel of couch co-op, but none of the highs of success. It is by no means bad, but certainly loses some of what makes the game so special.
Overcooked 2 gives you the chance to prove whether you’re a regular Gordon Ramsey or just someone who works the fry station at McDonald’s. While individual skill is important, success ultimately comes down to teamwork. If you’re unable to communicate effectively or figure out strategies on the fly, you’re doomed.
Few games have the ability to both frustrate and inspire you to greatness like Overcooked 2. It’s mechanics are simple to understand, but incredibly complex to master. Like a Trojan Horse, its difficulty sneaks up on you, catching you unaware. In terms of co-op gameplay, perhaps no other game requires more teamwork or stronger communication to be successful. It is one hell of an achievement for a game to be able to bond you and tear you apart so easily or so frequently, even within the same level.
Overcooked 2 was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the publisher.
tags: Ghost Town Games , Overcooked 2 , Overcooked 2 review , team 17