Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Overstressed chefs, burning stoves and tomatoes on the floor


Platform tested: PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

"Send me the damn salad, a clean plate and let me serve this bloody burger before the time runs out!!"

You would imagine that four stressed chefs in a kitchen screaming at each other while chopping up endless tomatoes, onions and mushrooms, with dish washing and serving in between, sounds like something you'd avoid to do for fun. Well not in Overcooked! It's probably one of the best local multiplayer games I've played in years, if not ever!

I had absolutely no knowledge of this game prior to a showing at E3 this year. Watching the preview build I realised this was going to be on my watchlist. Released in late July this year, I went out and bought it. It took the wife and me about 10 minutes and we were glued to the telly for hours. We played the game on each of our profiles for the PlayStation 4, then went and bought the Xbox One version and did the same. Addictive you say?! Alarmingly so!

Overcooked's premise is simple, the day of "peckining" has arrived and you must feed a a huge spaghetti monster tons of food. The problem is you need to cook and prepare it before serving. Something that requires skill. After the first level, which you are doomed to fail as default, sends you back in time to 1993. Here you are taught how to become an excellent chef through lots of levels with increasing difficulty to give you enough cooking skills to beat the monster. Sounds crazy?! Well that sets the mood for the game perfectly!

Each player controls their own little chef. There's an action button which lets you chop, pick up plates or wash dishes, and there's a running boost button. This simplistic controller layout takes newcomers only a few seconds to learn, making it an instant pick-up-and-play game for any gathering of friends. Regardless of their skills to gaming in general, it could even serve as a cool party game!

The orders will fly in, and all the chefs must work together to get each meal out in time. Doing so will give bonus points for the fastest delivery. Each level completed will give you a star rating from 1 to 3, collecting stars unlocks new levels and so on. A familiar structure as such. Every level is a new kind of kitchen layout with obstacles such as ice floors, moving furniture or separated areas where you'll have to pass ingredients and cooked food back and forth between players to fully prepare one order. It's a simple premise, but it gradually opens up a lot of variation and difficulty. Almost every level requires a new type of strategy and collaboration between players, resulting in som manic shouting as you play.

To nitpick on some smaller things though, I would have preferred a more catered for singleplayer experience. It's a tedious and confusing swapping of two characters when you play alone and actually a quite bad game to play this way. It's a game built for multiple players and the collaboration, which is sadly lost on your own. I would also have liked to see some sort of quick game generator, allowing for randomised levels. This way, the game could have extended beyond the campaign map, helping it from going stale once you've played all the maps over and over. An endless mode perhaps with increasingly complex orders at the very least!

Get together with one person or a group and play this game with no hesitation, it's a ton of fun and laughs! Yes you will probably be shouting at each other, but in a energetic and engaged manner! I cannot state how entertaining it becomes when the pace picks up and the orders start piling up, even worse is when the game throws some difficult obstacles in your way.

Overcooked is another of those amazing small indie or arcade games that just show up out of nowhere and become one of my favourite titles of the year. It's one of those fantastic ideas that you think "why didn't someone make this ages ago for like the Nintendo 64 with four players?!" only to realise that they really have made something unique that no-one has done before! A must buy party and multiplayer game!



    + Plus points

    • Hilarious and original concept and gameplay.
    • Lots of variation within it's concept.
    • One of the best coop and party games around.

    - Minus points

    • Lacks a survival, endless or randomised mode.
    • Singleplayer is a fairly lame experience.
    • More types of food?!

    Extra: They have now released two nice little extra DLC packs, one for a low price and the other for free! Named The Lost Morsel and Festive Seasoning. The first contains six new jungle themed levels, the latter has eight Christmas themed ones. Both are great little add-ons for those craving more Overcooked madness! They contains some really challenging and tricky levels, though they sadly have no new boss battles or modes. The Lost Morsel can be bought in a Gourmet Edition  bundle with the main game too. A must for videogame chefs out there!

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