Overcooked is a simple little game about serving food.
From it’s simple beginnings you’re tasked with preparing and then cooking the food before serving it up on a plate and delivering it to the service hatch.
The more meals you prepare the higher your score will be and the more stars you will be awarded, collecting more stars means you’ll unlock future levels and different chefs so it’s worth your while to dish up those meals as quickly as possible.
So the story goes, the Onion King is trying to prepare the world (and it’s chef’s) for impending doom thanks to the ever peckish, A giant spaghetti and meatballs creation who wants to eat anything and everything.
While the initial introduction gives you two characters, you’ll soon find yourself with four chef’s on screen, when you can depict tasks between chefs and have one preparing, another cooking and the third worrying about serving and dishing up dinner it all flows in glorious synchronicity, however playing single player that simply isn’t possible, controls are easy, you move around with the left stick then use two face buttons. Firstly to pick up and drop items, and the second as an action button to chop up food or use the fire extinguisher which we’ll get to later.
Playing alone you’ll also need to use the shoulder bumpers to switch between characters, and initially this works well, you start one chef chopping food before switching to his colleague to fetch more food and start chopping that before you flick back to take the prepared food to the pan ready to start cooking.
Sadly there’s no Artificial intelligence which means if you’re not controlling a chef, he will stand still once he’s finished the current task, constantly swapping between the two works well on the early levels but when you’re juggling multiple ingredients to fulfil various menu selections, you’ll find there’s just not enough time and far too much going on, there’s also no online mode so you can’t fill the shoes of an absent minded chef with an online friend either.
Thankfully there’s local co-op and Overcooked positions itself as a couch co-op title, single player wares thin very quickly, but if you’ve got a couple of friends or willing family members to help you in the kitchen you’ll soon cook up a treat.
Playing Solo I was able to struggle through a handful of levels, but beside my 9 year old twins I was soon breezing through levels I’d struggled endlessly on. Gameplay remains easy enough to get to grips with but as more variation is thrown into the mixer, you’ll need a strong head to dictate who is doing what and even towards later levels you’ll find you stand a good chance of racking up a few stars.
Soon enough you’ll find time is against you, with levels dynamically changing as you play, from a pirate ship that sways changing your route to different areas of the kitchen, to two vans on a highway that drive apart separating you from one side of the kitchen. Inevitably you’ll find yourself unable to tend to the cooker and soon enough it will engulf in flames, then it’s time to grab the fire extinguisher before the flames take over your whole kitchen. Put out the fire, discard the burnt remains and try to dish up a few more meals before time runs out.
Graphically it’s pleasing to the eye with crisp, details and colourful levels mixed with likeable characters from some chef-like humans to a rather bizarre breed of animals helping out in the kitchen. It really is an adorable game and while there’s not much to shout about in the sound department it’s still a very sufficient audio experience.
There’s a fantastic variety in levels and menu’s become more complicated as you progress, what starts as a simple 3 onion broth soon turns into burgers with customers demanding specific ingredients, remembering what to cook, chop and put on each plate is challenging enough but add to that the hilarity of trying to organise both yourself and two or three friends and your guaranteed to have a great time.
Overcooked would have easily been hitting a 9/10 if it had included enough A.I to enjoy playing alone, and even a basic online matchmaking or private lobbies, but as it stands it’s still well worth the price of admission if you’re one of these people who are lucky enough to have real life friends visit you occasionally.