Overcooked 1 & 2 Review - Kitchen Chaos Craves Constant Communication.
Frantic kitchens are my favorite kind of place to hang out with my sweetie this weekend.
The world is in ruin, all hope is lost. A giant monster is ravaging city after city in its quest to quell its everlasting hunger. In a last ditch effort, the Onion King and his pet dog Kevin brought you (and hopefully a friend) to a rooftop in the path of the beast. Soon it rears its grotesque visage, a giant meatball head with spaghetti for a body. You have come face to face (face to meatball?) with the Ever Peckish.
The Onion King instructs you to feed it salad in hopes that you can satiate it. Given its name and the fact that salad is the least filling of all foods, you shouldn’t have high hopes. It's not long before the Ever Peckish gets fed up (haha!) and is about to devour you and probably the building you're on while he’s at it.
Onion King uses his final power to open a time travel portal and sends you back in time to give you more training before the Ever Peckish arrives again. Maybe if you could make something more gourmet than salad you could fill EP’s blackhole of a stomach and save the world from being gobbled up.
This is the intro of Overcooked 1.
The core gameplay of both Overcooked 1 and Overcooked 2 has at least two chefs in a kitchen, many times with each of them being separated by obstacles be it countertops, water, lava etc. The key is that no one chef can prepare everything themselves either due to being blocked or just time constraints. For example, ingredients may come in on a conveyer belt on one side of the kitchen but they need to be chopped by a knife on the other side. So chef A needs to pick up carrots or onions and pass them to chef B who can chop them. Then B can pass back chopped veggies so A can put them in a pot to boil. Once fully cooked, A can plate the soup and pass it back to B to serve it. B gets the dirty plates back and passes them to A to wash in the sink. And the whole process repeats until time runs out.
The gameplay involves a lot of frantic passing back and forth like that and requires solid communication between players letting each other know, “I need more veggies!” or “dirty plates incoming!”. Failure to work together slows the process down at best or, like the title suggests, at worst leads to food being overcooked which starts a fire (don’t put the fire out fast enough and it spreads to the whole kitchen!). You can play this game alone and control all chefs yourself but to get the most out of it you really need at least one other person to make the game come alive.
As I mentioned earlier, when it is time to learn the ropes of the kitchen you start off with something easy, soup, in a straight forward, open (neither chef is blocked/locked in) cooking area. As you progress in the game you learn how to make hamburgers, fish & chips, pizza and burritos at the same time the kitchens get more zany as you go adding in rivers and ice, lava, teleporters, blackouts and even kitchens inside of cars racing down a highway or up in the sky in hot air balloons. Overcooked 2 adds in sashimi & sushi, pasta, cake & pancakes, and dumplings, also the ability to throw things like ingredients, which is a fast way to pass things back and forth between chefs.
Speaking of chefs, there are tons to choose from too (56 to be exact). There are no differences between them ability-wise, they only look different, but sometimes that is just as important. I always played as the raccoon in a wheelchair which I affectionately called Rolly Raccoon.
Overcooked 1 and Overcooked 2 were designed to be played co-op. Just like in the real world, cooking in the kitchen is just more fun if someone else is there with you. What I like about Overcooked is that you are on the same team working towards the same goal so it pays to be cooperative and not competitive. However, if you are feeling like testing out who is a better chef there is a versus mode where you compete to see which two-person team can earn a higher score. If there are only two players each of you control both chefs on your team.
The main objective of Overcooked 1 is to learn all recipes before the Ever Peckish starts its rampage. You have as much time as you need as there is no time limit (he is just the boss of the game).
Each individual level also has a star ranking system based on your score after the level’s timer expires. Server more food, get a higher score. To get three stars on all levels is going to require your communication and culinary skills to be on point at all times.
Overcooked 2 follows a similar story in that the Onion King finds the NECRO-NOMNOM-ICON book and reads from it (bad idea!). This causes the Unbread to rise from their graves seeking nourishment. You aren’t skilled enough to prepare gourmet foods that will satisfy the Zombread horde at the start so your mission is to roam the land in a food truck learning new recipes as you go.
Overcooked 2 also introduces a fourth star only achievable if you are a master, extreme, godlike, insanse-crazy-pants level player. I believe it is tuned for four players who are all experts at the game. The only ones my wife and I could achieve where the few where the timer of a level doesn’t start until you serve the first dish. The trick there is to plate as much as you can and then just make an enormous pile of prepared ingredients so you just spend the rest of the time cooking and serving as fast as you can.
What Makes This Game Unique
The true fun of Overcooked 1 and Overcooked 2 is when played with someone else. Either your kitchen teamwork is a sight to behold and you can have a blast flying through the levels, or you can roar with laughter as you bumble your way through the game, lighting the kitchen of fire right and left. Either way, just have fun with it. I also really liked how many chefs you can choose from. My only complaint is that you have to go back to the main menu to switch, they should have had an option to do so while playing.
Both games also have downloadable (DLC) levels that add in new chefs and new recipes, so even when you beat the main game there is more to do. Some of the DLC was pretty wacky too, one of them has you prepare turkey dinner by using a flamethrower!
Individual Game Breakdown
It’s hard to differentiate Overcooked 1 from Overcooked 2, they are so similar, but I recommend playing them both. Overcooked 2 felt like a natural continuation from the first game with just a few additions like the ability to throw things and a fourth star.
Back when I bought them they were individual games, luckily with the Overcooked: All You Can Eat edition they come bundled together. This includes Overcooked 1 & 2 and all DLC from both and new exclusive DLC. If you are new to Overcooked this is the only version you should buy. Bonus, it’s available on all major consoles and Windows.
Gameplay - How fun I find the game itself.
Co-Op - Does co-op exist in the game and if so how well integrated is it.
Replayability - Once I beat the game how likely am I to go back and play it again.
☆☆☆ - Terrible or functionality doesn’t exist, eg co-op in a single play only game
★☆☆ - Bad
★★☆ - Good
★★★ - Awesome
Columnist | Gaming & Tech Whiz of Moody Melon Magazine
I am a game developer, technical engineer, an animator and entrepreneur with a forward-thinking mindset to bring cool ideas into existence. In my free time I read lots of news articles. I enjoy using my knowledge of the IT world to give my opinions on various tech-related topics.