Cooperative on-the-couch multiplayer games are a great way to bond with friends. Overcooked's rewarding gameplay forces you and your pals to work together like a well-oiled machine so let's head to the kitchen and have some fun!
You play Overcooked either by yourself or with up to four local players. If you plan on playing solo, keep in mind that it's not even half as enjoyable as inviting some folks over to join in on the fun. At first, the gameplay seems simple with its basic control scheme as you chop ingredients, put the result in pots, then serve once thoroughly heated. However, as you progress through the impressively lengthy campaign, you'll come across many different twists (and recipes) that'll keep you and your pals on your toes. For example, cooking on a ship may seem like any other level but once the counters start shifting then you know it's time to change your strategy. Other stages have you running between moving trucks, passing ingredients back and forth in a space station, and experiencing terrors in a haunted kitchen. It really is phenomenal how much the gameplay changes due to the clever stage designs but one thing always stays the same; the need for constant communication. Working together to keep the meals coming is incredibly rewarding so here's hoping at least one person in the room has what it takes to issue efficient orders to the crew.
Every second of Overcooked is bursting with charm. Even the world map is adorable with a little van that drives between stages. The gorgeously colourful environments, cast of goofy characters, and cute animation make for one delightful game. Sometimes, it's hard not to get distracted by something happening outside of the kitchen such as watching people talk at the tables or admiring the local wildlife. The music is super catchy as well which mixes brilliantly with the satisfying sound effects. Overall, this is a perfectly presented dish.
As I've already mentioned, the campaign is quite long. You'll end up working through over a couple dozen stages which is a lot considering each one is very different to the last. Every stage's goal is to make a certain amount of money before the time runs out. You get tips for early deliveries and lose money if you take too long. You earn stars according to various money thresholds and unlock further stages by acquiring these stars. Working through the entire campaign will take hours. On top of that, there's a versus mode that's best enjoyed while playing with four people. When you only have two players, it gets tricky having to switch between your two cooks and isn't as fun as a result. Playing with four people provides a much more fluid competition by far. Anyway, all of this content is extremely enjoyable to work through as long as you have extra controllers and some buddies to make use of them.
Although Overcooked is one of my favourite games of the year so far, it does have some downsides. The most notable of which is that the graphics can be rather ambiguous, especially when areas of interest become crowded. Accidentally picking up the fire extinguisher while you meant to carry a pot then having the pot start a kitchen fire is not only ironic, it's incredibly irritating. Next, the controls can sometimes be finicky. Even though interactive areas are highlighted when you're near them as to not cause confusion, you'll find your character may drop an item or place it in an undesired spot from time to time. My only other complaint is that the star thresholds to unlock further stages in the campaign get way too high near the end. After getting three stars in many stages and two in all of the rest, you'd expect to progress smoothly but that's just not the case. Get ready to replay stages over and over again.
Overcooked is one of the best cooperative multiplayer games that I've ever had the privilege of playing. It may have its share of frustrating moments but the amount of fun to be had with friends more than makes up for any of them.
- + Cooperative gameplay with plenty of twists that reward strategy and communication
- + Cute visuals and catchy music
- + Loads of content and replay value
- - Ambiguous and crowded stage features regularly cause needless confusion
- - Controls can be finicky at times
- - Star thresholds get too high