Overcooked is quite different from many of the games currently on the market. For a start, it’s about cooking. Cooking games may be two a penny on the IOS or Android store but that isn’t the case on console where they are far rarer.
So what do you do?
On the face of it, the game is very simple. You have orders come in and you attempt to complete those orders before the customers get angry and eventually leave. The orders start relatively simple, with single ingredients, but as you progress they become slightly more complicated, but never massively complex.
However, as you progress a few new processes are introduced such as washing dishes. This simple act ramps up the challenge and is if that weren’t enough the game introduces obstacles, giving you kitchens designed to make tasks increasingly difficult.
You may be wondering what we mean by obstacles. Well in the earlier levels you have a kitchen that is split in two with a road running down through the middle. Not in itself a problem except that people seem intent on using said road. The people will obstruct you and when the heat is on it can be a real issue. Later things are ramped up as there is a kitchen separated on the back of two separate vans. The sides only come together for a few seconds requiring great teamwork and communication. Then later there is a level where you are on a rotating iceberg and have to maintain balance or fall into the sea!
United we stand
Here is the thing that makes the game such a hit. As a one-player experience it probably isn’t even worth your time, but the minute you invite a friend or two round it comes into its own. Because in this game you can’t do it all by yourself. You need to cooperate. A well-oiled machine will complete a level and score well, but there are so many variants in the environment that machines are rarely well oiled. Throw in an innate human desire to go beyond their remit and you have a recipe for disaster.
As an example of the beauty of Overcooked, I played with my two step kids. On the first few levels, we were pretty successful, but then we started to get cocky. Gone was the teamwork replaced with the eldest trying to do everything and the youngest spinning on the spot with a frigging fire extinguisher. It was a recipe (pun intended) for disaster. So being the adult I started taking charge, barking orders and before I knew it I was in full Gordon Ramsey mode complete with expletives. I hadn’t even realised! The kids found it hilarious, and I had to bribe them with choccies so they wouldn’t tell their mum.
So you could take from that story that the game turns people into awful parents and in my case, that would be correct. However, there is so much more to it than that. Like the classic board game monopoly, Overcooked has the charm and simplicity to bring families together and tear them apart! For every frustrated yell at an underperforming chef (yes they were my children, but calling them chefs alleviates my guilt) was outweighed (another food pun) by the joy of completing a level.
So that’s overcooked in a nutshell. The equally fun sequel is available for free as part of Xbox’s Ultimate pass and well worth downloading, especially if you are planning a party soon. I would say it ranks up there with the likes of Cards Against Humanity for a fun party game. Don’t believe me? Give it a download.