Overcooked Review: Keep On Cooking
Greg Johnson / Nov 1st, 2016 No Comments
How many cooks are too many? Overcooked seeks to answer that question via cooperative multiplayer that requires task delegation.
In Overcooked the world has met with an apocalyptic future and cooking is the only way to save what little life remains.
Players control one of several cooks and must prepare, cook, serve and clean a series of meals. All of this is timed of course, meaning coordination and speed are the keys.
The Ever Hungry
A cataclysm event has plunged the world into chaos, leaving the Onion King with few choices. The king is a stout living onion who informs players in Overcooked’s prologue that feeding an insatiable beast is the only way to save the world.
No matter how well players handle the opening level, they are not quite up to the task, and must travel back in time with the Onion King in order to improve their culinary skills.
Overcooked takes place across time, where players must learn a variety of recipes and coordination skills required to defeat the beast back at home.
This time-traveling scenario gives Overcooked an excuse to take players literally anywhere, setting up some unique situations, but that is the only thing the plot is for. The story serves as a way to see different locales and set up different gameplay mechanics, but the game’s odd humor shines through.
Too Many Cooks
In each level, there are several stations for creating meals. Recipes appear in the top right corner of the screen along with a timer. Players must put together meals before the timer runs down in order to complete each level.
This process involves collecting and preparing ingredients, mixing them together to form different meals, serving the meal and cleaning off the plate following consumption. Every recipe is unique in the preparation aspect, and this is where Overcooked gets challenging.
Players must balance how they prepare the different food items. For instance, tomatoes need to be chopped, but potatoes need to be boiled. Chopping can be done at any time, but anything that needs to be cooked needs to be done in an efficient manner and has a chance to be burned.
If two ingredients are combined incorrectly, there’s no going back. Salads require two heads of lettuce, or sometimes a tomato and lettuce. If the wrong combo is served, customers will refuse it flat out. The order can still be fulfilled, but by this point, too much time has likely been lost.
Up to four players can engage in Overcooked’s madness, and this can be much more fun than playing solo. Having more players requires more teamwork. Delegating tasks is key, as is working around each level’s unique surprises.
For example, one level takes place on a moving pirate ship where tables shift with the waves. Changing with the level is the only way to win each round, but in the heat of cooking it’s not always easy to juggle these challenges with all the other cooking tasks.
Multiplayer is where Overcooked shines. In single player, one player controls two cooks, making it very difficult. The game uses a simple two-button system to interact with objects, but it is not the controls that make Overcooked tough. Coordinating two tasks at the same time is incredibly challenging, especially with the game’s timer. This high difficulty makes it nearly impossible to complete the game solo.
There is also a very strange way to play called “couple’s mode.” In this game mode, two players use one controller to play Overcooked, with each half of the controller assigned to one of the two cooks. In this scenario, only two controllers are needed to control all four cooks.
These varying ways to play make for a rewarding experience.
Dinner is Served
Overcooked’s sound and graphics perfectly present the game’s wacky tone. The stylized, cartoonish graphics feature big faces and bubbly visuals. Watching the little cooks scramble back and forth is endearing to watch. However, Overcooked sometimes feels bare bones and leaves some levels feeling sparse.
The game’s music perfectly captures both the game’s overall tone and a specific mood for each level. Melodies, including everything from elevator music for restaurants and pirate shanties, hasten as the timer for each level counts down.
The music and graphics keep the game light and cute, serving as a contrast to the challenge of gameplay and the constant race against the clock.
Overcooked is the quintessential party game. Its mechanics are not overly complex and the its tone is fun.
It slowly eases players into increasingly difficult challenges, giving the game a gradual slope. The presentation is quirky and beautiful.
Overcooked was reviewed on Xbox One using a code for the game provided by the publisher.
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