Restaurant simulators are a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine so when I came off the back of a three-hour binge of Overcooked in my first sitting with it, I knew that I had come across something amazing.
Now, seven hours of game time later I’m still incredibly addicted and have the urge to invite all of my friends over to play it and just watch the mayhem ensue. Overcooked is a crazy, hectic restaurant simulator from Ghost Town Games Ltd. whose difficulty can be a bit frustrating at times but that makes it so much sweeter when you finally get to move on.
Overcooked tells the story of the Onion King, a bumbling anthropomorphic onion as he tries to prepare “talented” chefs for the upcoming apocalypse. At the head of this apocalyptic drama is the “Ever Peckish”, a gigantic spaghetti monster who is never satisfied with just one meal. It is up to you (and preferably up to three friends) to train up for the upcoming battle with the Ever Peckish monster to save the Onion Kingdom! Overcooked has got all of the drama of a Gordon Ramsey show minus well, all the cursing and idiot sandwiches.
The main gameplay mechanics of Overcooked are chopping, cooking, serving, washing up dishes, baking etc. – all the things you would expect to be doing in a real kitchen. Unlike a real kitchen though, you’re on a time limit. In each level, you’re given four minutes to complete and serve as many orders as possible; the catch is that the kitchen becomes more difficult to work in as you progress through each level. One second you may be in a totally normal kitchen grilling up some burgers, and the next there’s an earthquake that splits your kitchen in half. Other crazy kitchens you’ll come across in Overcooked are: a kitchen on ice where your characters slip and slide around; a kitchen on moving trucks; and a kitchen surrounded by lava. The ever-changing kitchens in Overcooked add a level of mayhem and hysteria that makes it incredibly fun. Throughout the game you can also change what your chef looks like. I myself play as the orange tabby cat chef who looks grumpy 100% of the time. My best friend’s choice when we played together was the handicapped raccoon who races around the kitchen in his wheelchair. It’s all the little elements – the kitchens, the changeable characters, and the music – that all come together to impress.
Overcooked has so much to offer for someone who loves to play games with their friends but, for those of you lone wolves, single player is a little bit of a drag. The difficulty in the later levels becomes a little too much for just one person. Single player mode requires you to constantly switch between two chefs to fulfil both roles yourself: if one chef is chopping, you can switch to the other and have them serving food or doing dishes. When I played the game with one other person it felt significantly easier as chopping food was faster and there was another person to man half of the tasks. That being said, the game is still difficult with multiple people – but felt impossible by myself by chapter three. When you play with a second person you can play with either split-controller, two controllers, or a controller and keyboard. I tried split-controller with a friend and it was chaotic but totally fun.
Overcooked features two different modes: campaign and versus. Campaign mode can be played in single player or multiplayer with up to three friends where you work together to score either one, two or three stars depending on how well you do. To unlock each level, you must have a certain number of stars. Every few levels you check in on the Onion King who praises you on your progress towards defeating the Ever Peckish. Versus mode is where you can compete against your friends on a few different levels to see who can be the best cook. If you play versus mode with only two people, each person controls two chefs. If you play with four people, everyone gets their own chef.
Overcooked is an absolute hilarious experience and I would completely recommend picking it up to play with your friends. Single player was a little bit disappointing because of the immense difficulty, but as Overcooked was basically created as a co-op game I’m not entirely surprised by this. The story, character design, music and gameplay are really fantastic and all come together to make a spectacular new game. If you’re after a crazy game to play with friends, you can’t go wrong with this.