Overcooked! 2 (2018)
Ghost Town | Reviewed on Nintendo Switch
All of the Michelin stars
Have you ever watched an episode of Hell’s Kitchen and thought to yourself, “Gee whiz, I’d really love to be in that kind of high-pressure environment with Gordon Ramsey yelling at me, surrounded by ineptitude, fire, and knives?” Yeah, me neither. But thankfully, Overcooked! 2 is a slightly more forgiving experience to throw yourself into if you’re looking to test your (virtual) cooking skills. With the help of your friends in classic couch co-op, you’ll traverse the Onion Kingdom, chopping, frying, boiling, and putting out the occasional kitchen fire along the way. The overarching story of the game sees you improving your cooking skills in order to stave off the hunger of the Unbread – a horde of literal undead bread – and save the kingdom. You have to keep an eye on the order tickets, as you and your squad cook your way through them to serve your hungry guests. Serving plates in the proper order will net you additional points, while missing a ticket by falling behind (“Why does this burger have tomato? I distinctly said just cheese you absolute disgrace!”) will cost you some. It’s a delicate, chaotic dance that you and your friends will have to master, and communication is absolutely key.
There are a variety of different themed levels for you to cook your way through – from the final space-themed area, to the wizarding school, which will give you a taste of the house-elf life. Perfecting a multitude of different recipes will keep you busy in each and every level – especially if you’re going for that perfect three-star rating – and the sheer variety keeps the game feeling fun even after hours of play. Some recipes are more complex than others (like the baking ones) and you’ll have to pay close attention to the ingredients, prep, and cooking methods that each one requires. This will probably lead to mistakes being made, and batter ending up in the bins (“You have to chop the honey first, PANINI HEAD!”) Each of the levels typically include a gimmick of sorts to make your job just a little bit harder. Maybe sections of the kitchen are split apart, forcing you and your friend(s) to each handle specific jobs. Someone might be forced to throw ingredients to the others (don’t worry if they fall on the floor, health and safety don’t seem to be major concerns in the Onion Kingdom) or make sure they stay on top of the dish washing. Ingredients might be on conveyor belts for you to chase after, floors might fall away, or the classic, fires-sprouting-all-over-the-kitchen which you’ll have to put out with an extinguisher.
Out of the frying pan
I found some of the environmental challenges and hazards to be more well-executed than others. While some feel hard but fair, overcome by careful communication and a strategic approach, others felt arbitrarily difficult and weren’t always fun to re-do if you failed. One specific level that I remember was in the mining area – you’re on a floating platform in the middle of a chasm, with the ingredients, pans, and serving window on the outside. You’re forced to use a lever to shift your tiny platform around the area to pick up ingredients, cook, and serve. Because of the limited space, constant need to move, and mountain of tasks to juggle, the level felt a bit ridiculous.
There was another one in the space section that my sister and I (we played through the game together) found quite frustrating – there are a few platforms with different ingredients, separated from the main cooking area by narrow bridges that periodically sink into a lake of green goo. If you’re caught trying to transport ingredients when the pathways sink, or more likely, fall off of as you try to rush from side to side (think “Frigid Bridges” from Mario Party 3) you’ll have to sit out for a few seconds until you re-spawn in the kitchen area. These few gimmicks came across as frustrating, rather than fun or wild. In comparison, there is a level where running across a busy street, avoiding being blocked by other pedestrians or run over by cars, is both hilarious and entertaining. Ultimately, the frustrating levels are few and far between, and didn’t negatively impact my experience with the game overall.
There is a huge player roster to choose from: earning certain accolades or completing certain levels will earn you new chefs to play. My sister and I had our mains (see below) but I loved the variety and diversity of the cast of playable characters. The sheer amount of content that these developers included in Overcooked! 2 definitely needs to be praised – there are several upcoming DLC’s (I believe they’ve all been released as of publishing this), 2 completely free holiday-themed worlds that they’ve added, and a separate pack for even more chefs if you’re looking to expand your options further. It’s clear that a lot of effort and love went into, and continues to go into, this title.
DLC: Surf n’ Turf
I really enjoyed this DLC; the map/kitchens that you get to cook in are designed with a beachy theme. It’s a nice contrast – the chill, tropical vibes clashing with the hectic mayhem that is trying to dish out orders. A new ‘water gun’ mechanic was added – it can be used to put out fires and clean plates (pro tip: the water pressure will push your character back, so don’t clean plates in front of an edge or pool). They’ve also added a couple new recipes that better match the light and sunny theme, like smoothies and kebabs. I would definitely recommend this particular DLC.
DLC: Campfire Cook Off
While I also really enjoyed this DLC, especially the camping theme, I found the new mechanics (or gimmicks, whichever you prefer) to be a bit more on the challenging side. This was fun while playing the first time, but in trying to get the perfect 3-star ratings, it could get a bit frustrating. Managing a kitchen in some levels of this DLC involves each player wearing a backpack with different ingredients – you’ll need to coordinate grabbing items from your partner(s) while they’ve got their back to you. This requires some pretty precise timing and clear communication, or else you’ll dissolve into running around each other aimlessly while the timer ticks away. There was definitely some swearing involved in this one – still great quality, and highly enjoyable.
DLC: Night of the Hangry Horde
Night of the Hangry Horde introduces a new “fend off the hangry horde” wave-style mechanic in specific levels of its content. Hangry enemies will attack your kitchen and attempt to break through your barricades (which they will do – if you leave them for too long) and its your job to keep them at bay. Each will require a certain meal (exactly the same as fulfilling a regular ticket) to send them on their way. Serve the correct meals to the correct enemies to save your barricades, which you can also repair at the expense of some of the money you earn from serving. I loved this mechanic, as it added an extra bit of tension to the levels, and was a fun twist on the usual Overcooked formula.
DLC: Carnival of Chaos
I think this is my favourite of the DLC’s. The challenge felt slightly more forgiving, but the mechanics introduced in this one were a lot of fun. Firing each other out of canons, pushing buttons to alternate types/flavours for condiment and drink dispensers, as well as creating “combo” meals on trays was all well-implemented. The aesthetic design of this DLC was also executed well, and levels were consistently creative without feeling unfair or frustrating. Carnival of Chaos is pretty much exemplary of everything great about this game. If you were only going to purchase one DLC, I would highly recommend this one.
The final course
Overcooked! 2, while occasionally frustrating, is endlessly fun and delightful. There was more than one occasion my sister and I literally had to pause the game – we were in tears from laughing so hard at something ridiculous that had happened. One instance may or may not have included one of us falling off a ledge and singing the classic Simple Plan meme “How could this happen to me?” For me personally, this game is an easy replacement for the classic Mario Party, or Mario Kart games that always come out when friends or family are over. Trying to maintain order over a group of people panicking, yelling at each other, serving incorrect meals, and generally bumbling around is, in a strange way, utterly charming. While it’s pretty much necessary for this game to be played in co-op (there is a single player mode, but I wouldn’t recommend it) if you have a partner to play with, it’s a fantastically fun title. Its cute story, with genuinely funny writing and challenging levels will definitely put your skills (communication and otherwise) to the test. Just don’t forget to call “service!”