Overcooked

I am a panda wielding a kitchen knife, desperately hacking away at as many onions as physically possible and subsequently littering the floor with chopped produce. The noise level in our living room steadily rises as my sister and I frantically shout back and forth at each other; the culinary space station we’ve been thrust into is about to rotate, and we’ll have a very narrow window before the station rotates again to ferry all the onions into another room where pots will transform them into delicious soups. But the discord is quickly joined by my brother, finding himself caught on the wrong side of an airlock, holding clean bowls for a set of soups that are nearly finished cooking. In a few moments, those soups will burn and set that section of the kitchen on fire; onions are bumped and kicked aside as my panda and my sister’s black bear accidentally dash into one another in our simultaneous attempts to get to the fire extinguisher. Orders are being missed, dirty dishes are piling up, soups are burning, tempers are fraying, and — most importantly — hilarity is ensuing. This is Overcooked.

Set with the task of avoiding certain apocalyptic doom caused by the appearance of a spaghetti monster that cannot be sated, players (controlling cartoon people and anthropomorphic animals) are sent back in time to hone their teamwork and culinary abilities. These cooperative teams of 1–4 players face challenges in cooking a variety of dishes, each introducing its own unique mechanics, in a variety of environments, each with its own hazards. Continuous failure to learn each level’s unspoken rules and strategies quickly is more often a source of comedy than of frustration, and any attempts to rely on a comfort strategy are almost always usurped by little surprises to further refine your growing culinary expertise.

For the most part, each level is fairly straightforward: obtain ingredients, chop them, assemble them into dishes, cook those dishes, plate them, serve them, and literally rinse and repeat by washing the dirty plates when they’re returned. The faster dishes are served, the more money they’re worth, and a score of 1 (passing) to 3 (perfect) stars can be scored on each level depending on the total money earned. The numerous ways each stage of preparation overlaps with the others offers more than enough material for flustering and amusing kitchen accidents, but it’s the small mechanics tweaks and zany interactions between the players and their environment that keep the already incredible core experience fresh throughout the course of the game. Mishaps abound, such as accidentally throwing away clean dishes instead of handing them to another player or slipping off an iceberg holding a finished pizza.

Although the game can be played alone (wherein a single player controls multiple avatars and switches between them), Overcooked’s hilarity of mistakes (and mistakes on top of mistakes) combined with the thrill of (eventual) success is best experienced with friends. In an age where couch co-op is largely ignored in the wake of big screen multiplayer titles, Overcooked not only succeeds in creating a satisfying co-op experience but adds innovative elements beyond the usual cooking game. If Overcooked were a meal, then Ghost Town Games has prepared us something truly wonderful and family-style; my compliments to the chefs.

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Info

Type
Video Game
Developer
Release Date
August 2, 2016
Joshua J. Daymude
Joshua J. Daymude
Assistant Professor, Computer Science

I am a Christian and assistant professor in computer science studying collective emergent behavior and programmable matter through the lens of distributed computing, stochastic processes, and bio-inspired algorithms. I also love gaming and playing music.