Co-Op Cooking Games – A rare medium well done

Overcooked

 

Tea: Cinnamon Herb Tea

 

Saving the world is as common to the life of a video gamer as chopping onions is to a cook, then why not combine both of these somewhat average experiences and turn them into something new and exciting and on top of that make it enjoyable with other people. Overcooked may look simplistic in its design, but beneath the outer layer lies a game with a love for detail, an amazingly fun co-op experience, and a lesson in effective aesthetic design.

Surprisingly, Overcooked does have a story: You and you partner are cooks and tasked with feeding the seemingly insatiable great beast. As one could expect, you fail in this task, which may or may not have to do with the fact that you are only feeding him salad… Lucky for you, the Onion King can transport you back in time before the arrival of this monstrosity so that you may hone your skills in different kitchens across the world. Throughout the different-themed lands, you will encounter not only increasingly difficult hazards, which make you really wonder why anyone would be cooking in a kitchen that is located inside an active volcano with the pans randomly swimming around in the lava pool, but also different dishes which you will need to master in order to satiate the beast by the end of your journey. Obviously, this story is not meant to shake the foundations of video game storytelling but it also doesn’t have to. It is interesting enough to make you long for the next onion cabin and listen to the increasingly worried but never the less believing words of the Onion King. It is self-aware enough to walk the tightrope walk between smug self-references and cute humorous exchanges.

overcooked_03

– Questionable hygiene standards… must be Britain. –

Of course, the gameplay is where it is truly at. You and your up to four friends are thrown into various kitchens with various gimmicks. They can range from simply environmental obstacles you will need to work and organise around, up to parts of the ingredients being in different parts of your space station (I am not kidding). The moment to moment gameplay is cooking various dishes like soups, burgers, pizza etc. All of these can come in different variations, though I don’t really know who orders a burger with just meat or an all-meat stew. Anyway, you need to keep an eye on the orders and then organise who is doing the chopping, roasting/boiling, serving, and also dishwashing. As you can imagine this gets increasingly hectic on its own as orders that sit around too long will cost you valuable points, these translate directly into a zero- to three-star rating at the end of the level. To gain access to levels you will need a certain number of them, so doing as best as you can, is highly advised to save the world. Now add all the aforementioned hazards to the mix and you have got a gauntlet of pots and slippery ice slopes ahead of you. The difficulty rises steadily but never too steeply. New elements are introduced, but tasks never seem insurmountable. The first time, you may wonder when you should be washing dishes in this hectic life or death situation, but by the end you will multitask all the various actions with relative ease.

lava

– If you can’t stand the heat… –

Quite frankly, I had a blast playing this game with Mrs Teatime. The first time you enter a new kitchen everything is chaotic. “What is the gimmick this time? Where are the onions? F***, there is only one chopping board.” The later times we tackled already completed kitchens, it was focused and like a well-oiled machinery. Even though we messed up often as well. No matter how you play it, be it completionist-perfection, or chaotic cooking disaster, Overcooked is entertainment either way. Throw in two dlcs that feature new kitchens and new dishes along with a lot more playable cooks to unlock, you have a solid multiplayer experience from start to finish. If you want something to play with your partner, or friends that are coming over, Overcooked is one of the best choices you can make. The graphics are simple but also minimalistic enough to always give you a clear idea of what and where certain things are. Ingredients look distinct enough and everything simply falls into place after a while. There is even a versus mode to fuel long lasting hostility among you. The music is enjoyable in the overworld and adrenaline pumping during the last minutes of a stage. I really can’t find anything negative to say about this game. Do yourself a favour and buy (and thus of course support) this indie gem, you will not regret it.

 

 

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