Overcooked! is a cute arcade cooking simulation game developed by Ghost Town Games and published by Team17 way back in 2016. Designed to be a local ('couch co-op') or online cooperative experience, players control a number of chefs in kitchens filled with an increasing number of obstacles and hazards, the aim to rapidly prepare meals to specific orders within a time limit, earning a rating of 0 to 3 stars for their efforts. The recipes could be as simple as chopping tomato and lettuce to make a salad to a pizza with tomato, onion, sausage & cheese, all of which need to be chopped, added to the dough base then baked, put on a plate and rushed to the service hatch…
Playing as any one (or two if you play solo) of many cutesy chefs, you must cook to save your world, the Onion King's kingdom, from a monstrous food munching beast. Yep, that's all the story you need really, and yes, the accompanying intro and cutscenes are completely pointless, but on the good side, the King does have a cute doggy sidekick called Kevin (be sure to pet him.)
Gameplay choices include the Story Campaign, Arcade and Practice modes, co-op, versus, all for 1-4 players in couch co-op or online. The story campaign has you progressing through a world map, driving a little van to the next level, but you'll have to accrue enough stars to progress to certain levels.
I should say that I rather liked the original Overcooked! but always thought it was sadly flawed – too hard solo and with a near vertical difficulty curve in multiplayer, and therefore not as much fun as it could have been. Most kitchens (levels) are clearly designed for 2, 3 or 4 players playing cooperatively, and the requirement just to get a 1 star (out of 3) to unlock the next level is ridiculously hard in places. The sequel only addresses the difficulty issue to a point, but is still a lot more fun and a lot more doable with other players. It also adds the ability to throw ingredients to other chefs or even into/onto a pot, pan or plate. Fortunately we have several lunatics here at Gamecell who seemed to enjoy Overcooked!'s frantic, sometimes confusing and frequently hilarious gameplay.
As if preparing several different meals with many different ingredients (some just need to be chopped, some chopped and cooked) against the clock wasn't hard enough, the game quickly gives you obstacles and hinderances like pedestrians, slippery floors, fires (if you leave something cooking too long), rats (that steal your food), moving, tilting and separating floors and work surfaces, wind that blows things around, poor lighting, holes in the floor… you name it, and Ghost Town Games/Team 17 throw it at you and run away cackling maniacally.
Overcooked! has simple controls but still manages some weird button mapping (LB to change characters?) and overcomplicated selection screens that make simply setting up a couch co-op game with your chosen chefs a test of dexterity and patience. As if accepting that their game is too darned difficult for normal mortals, Assist Mode gives you added time, boosts the score but some achievements can't be unlocked. If you don't have 4 controllers (and not many people do) you can split a controller which adds even more mayhem and confusion (and control issues) to the game.
Some kitchens are larger and more complicated that others and stretch the size and scale to–and arguably beyond–the sensible limit as some items and their icons become difficult to distinguish, even on a big TV. Each kitchen style has a theme tune, and as is the usual with this genre the tunes are catchy as hell, presumably plucked from a 'dangerously catching tune' section somewhere.
Other than a few control gripes and a deep disdain for the story mode, we also found that the Cosmic Canteen versus level is broken (the doors to the food store don't open!), which was disappointing, although I'm sure it can be patched as the space station doors work fine on co-op levels.
Finally, the all-new Extra Trimmings might sound like a lightweight add-on DLC, but actually gives you 13 new areas, a veritable plateful of new kitchens to try and master, so in all there are 200 in the game – All You Can Eat and then some!
Special thanks to PressEngine for the review code.