Serving up Good Times
By Edwin Velez
Reviewed on Xbox One
Released on August 3rd, 2016 for PS4, Xbox One, Steam
Developer: Ghost Town Games Publisher: Team17 Digital Ltd.
Before I start getting all wordy and giddy, let me tell you that Overcooked is one of the most fun co-op experiences you can get on this generation of gaming. Plain and simple. Masterfully executed by the newly founded team at Ghost Town Games, Overcooked brings all the mechanics of a hectic kitchen into one heck of an adorable and charming package. Whether going at it alone or with up to three friends, players will cook up orders to master the ways of the kitchen, all in preparation of saving the Onion Kingdom. Since the initial announcement, I knew Overcooked would be something special. It is with great pleasure that I say Ghost Town Games has not disappointed, not even slightly.
In Overcooked, players have to fulfill as many orders as they can in a certain amount of time. From burgers to pizza and even soups, players get the chance to cook up a storm in a variety of ways. It is no easy task, as you have to do the prep work, cooking, and plating all before you serve it. The mechanics are simple, coming down to only three inputs to make the gameplay as streamlined as possible. The quicker you get your orders out, the bigger the tip. As you progress, not only do the orders become increasingly complicated, but so do the venues. In your travels you'll encounter earthquakes, hauntings, and more in even more outlandish places like icebergs, pirate ships and even space! Each of these different levels are all so unique and charming in their own ways. It is great to see the little details attuned to each one, each complimented by fitting tracks that are as charming as the rest of the game.
The gameplay is the true shining hero of Overcooked. What could have been smaller and simpler ends up being deeper and richer than what you would expect. You have your basic actions, like chopping and lifting. But where the actions start to stand out is when you realize how many different ways you can approach and plan these actions to create a more productive kitchen. For instance, say I am prepping soup and accidentally put my ingredients in two different pots. To my delightful surprise, you can grab one pot and empty it into another, a feature which could have easily been missed. Even the plating has a depth to it, with dirty dishes needing to be physically washed to free up plates for more orders. There is a certain rhythm that needs to be developed, either solo or in co-op, to truly succeed in the kitchen.
Though Overcooked is undoubtedly still great alone, its co-op offering is officially one of my favorites of all time. It is easily the most engaged I have ever been cooperatively, putting to shame any tactical shooters I have played in recent years. While playing with both my fiancée and Lee (Player2Reviews very own), I found myself calling out orders, commands, and motivational quips. It’s fantastic how easy it is to get into, and while challenging at times, it really makes you think of the best ways to further your production. In solo mode, you get to simultaneously command two chefs. You can start an action with one and then click a button to switch over to your other chef, all while the original chef continues their action until complete. It adds a completely different dynamic, but one that is all the while just as fun while being unique in its own ways.
Overcooked is just so charming too. Its adorable graphics are easy to appreciate, as I mentioned its tunes fit excessively well everywhere they are used. On top of that, there is a wide cast of chefs to choose from. From animals and people, there is plenty of diversity that everyone can appreciate. I find myself already wanting a sequel and thinking of the possibilities, mainly customizable characters! The level layouts are so genius that I think Ghost Town Games could pull off incorporating user created menus and levels in a potential sequel as well. This game is such a success in many ways that it’s hard not to be giddy of what could potentially be in a sequel.
Aside from the Campaign, there is also a local multiplayer competitive mode which pits players against each other to race to finish more plates. It’s fun, fast, and hectic just like the rest of the core experience. In team battles, communication is just as necessary as ever. Once you hit a nice stride the kitchen starts moving like clockwork. That is, until you start getting competitive and stealing ingredients from the other team. The competitive mode is a riot, and again hoping for a sequel, it would be great to see it and the follow up campaign have online options as well.
Overcooked nails everything it strives to be. It’s fun, damn adorable, and conceptually flawless. Though the controls can sometimes be touchy during the more panic induced moments, the game is bright enough to drown out any harm caused by that. In fact, its charm makes these trying moments more hilarious than anger inducing, and that is just another testament to how great Overcooked is. I am extremely delighted that Overcooked lived up to, if not exceeded my expectations. It goes down in the books as one of the best co-operative gaming experiences in years, and brings me a virtual cooking joy I haven't had in years. Overcooked is a fine dining experience worth every penny, and I am already craving a second serving.
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purposes of the review.
Final Score: 9/10
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