“Overcooked 2 is perhaps the perfect example of what a sequel should look and feel like.”
It feels like only yesterday that we were served up the succulent, five-star gourmet meal that was Overcooked. A fast-paced, exciting and unrelenting couch co-op game based around the simple premise of preparing and serving meals in a variety of nonsensical environments, Overcooked provided entertainment in equal measure with the promise of destroying your relationships with loved ones. Despite the inevitability of tension and fallout, the charm and challenge of the game left players drooling for more. It is with great praise to the Onion King, then, as well as the creative minds at Ghost Town Games and Team17, that we find ourselves in receipt of a hearty second course in the form of Overcooked 2!
Overcooked 2 is perhaps the perfect example of what a sequel should look and feel like. The game sees little change to the previous methods of play, making for a familiar environment for returning players. At the same time, additional features and elements ensure that every player will be tested, every former gripe is catered for, and every step that Overcooked 2 takes is a healthy step onwards and upwards from its source material. Similarly to the first game, the story mode starts with a loose and unthreatening storyline forming a simple backdrop to the gameplay. In short, the Onion King inadvertently summons “The Unbread” whilst trying out a magical new recipe against the advice of his canine companion. That is all the detail that players are given before being thrown straight into the action of the game, but despite being crude and arguably unnecessary the moment gets a laugh and therefore serves its purpose.
From this point onwards, players are into the flow of the game. Levels start off quite simply and easily, quickly teaching new players the controls and basic methods of the game. This includes how to grab and prepare ingredients, move around the level and serve a finished dish to customers. Completely new players might find themselves a bit lost as to some of the factors at play, such as how to read customer orders, with the game assuming at least some prior knowledge from its predecessor. The tutorial is certainly stylised as more of a refresher than a fully-fledged crash course in the ways of Overcooked. Nevertheless, with a little time and intuition, new players will find their feet without too much trouble. The bright, colourful and positive aesthetics of the game offer a fun and welcoming world for newcomers to enjoy and feel comfortable in as well.
The basic methods of play change very little from the early levels, but the intricacies of maps and recipes ramps up significantly; even before the first chapter of the game is over. The maps in Overcooked 2 are much more dynamic and complex than in the first game. There are a lot more areas that only one player can access and significantly more moving parts, some of which do not follow a set pattern. As such, players must communicate efficiently and be prepared to adapt their strategies on the fly, based on the situation at hand. If delegating tasks was not challenging enough for you before, the level of swearing and/or shouting in your living room almost certainly just increased. Factor in new recipes which now include not one but several methods of ingredient preparation, you will probably want to make the most of the peace and quiet in your home before you start up the game. Nevertheless, although frequently stressful, the increased complexity in Overcooked 2 is the perfect evolution of the game from its predecessor and offers returning players a new level of challenge to tackle and enjoy.
Without a doubt, the development team behind Overcooked 2 decided to make their second game in the series more challenging this time around, but they also listened carefully to the feedback of players following the original. As such, two small but significant changes have been made to your chef’s capabilities in Overcooked 2. The first is simply the ability to dash around the kitchen, upping the pace of play and allowing you to get to stations more quickly and efficiently. More significantly, however, you can now throw ingredients to your fellow chefs, saving you a lot of time when it comes to getting a lettuce to the place it needs to be. With the new, dynamic and moving levels in the game, this feature quickly becomes incredibly useful, allowing you to bridge gaps in your kitchen space be they rivers or harsh drops. Aiming can be a challenge, but once you have nailed this down, you can even throw ingredients straight into pans for cooking, making the challenges of Overcooked 2 look like skill moves from FIFA. Now there’s a comparison I bet you didn’t expect!
There is one more big selling point in Overcooked 2, and that is online play. You can play online both with friends or with strangers, with a radial menu acting as the developers’ solutions to the constant need for communication in the game. With a series of simple yet sensible options for communicating with allies, the concept almost works. Almost. Unfortunately, as with many online titles requiring co-operation between strangers, the human element is the pitfall here. The radial menu is good, but it doesn’t offer the full range of instructions (and insults) that players will want to fire to each other, and it doesn’t help determine who is in charge of which tasks in the game. Ultimately, the only way to play Overcooked is with people you can speak to directly, ideally in the same room as yourself. Online play with friends, however, is an absolute delight. Where couch co-op is impossible, the feature is probably the most important addition to what Overcooked 2 has to offer.
Overcooked 2 is a hearty and challenging beast of a co-op game. The new features significantly up the ante and build upon the first game, without overwhelming its perfect style of play. The bright, colourful and positive aesthetics of the game continue from the original too, providing a fun and welcoming world to play in. In truth, the simplest way to decide whether it is worth your time and pennies is to have played the first game. If you loved that game, you will absolutely love this game too. Just be prepared for it to be harder, more complicated and naturally more shouty this time around. For anyone who loves gaming at home with others, however, Overcooked 2 is an absolute no brainer. An easy game to recommend!