Overcooked is a game that instantly hits you with some charm and puts a smile on your face the moment you load it up.
The menu greets you with some quaint twee and begs you to ask your friends for some off-the-couch co-op play, so you grab them and sit opposite the tv, controllers at the ready (sharing if you’re particularly close/poor) for an enjoyable puzzle-based experience. This is the ideal way to experience this game, and everything from the go screams that at the player to the point you’d expect the super meat boy team to add some sarcastic “play the game this way” style text to the opening menu as a helping hand to Ghost Town Games.
The opening cut scene sets up the time-cook premise: the end of the world is coming, and deliciously fast-paced cooking is the only way to avert it, and unfortunately you just do not cut the mustard to take it on. This leads to a bit of time travelling to 1993 where your culinary warriors have to cook their way through multiple challenges based on layouts, resource management, time limits and whatever else the ramseys at Ghost Town Games can throw at you. Sounds great so far, and if you’re playing in multiplayer mode it most definitely is. Multiple chefs means multi-tasking, higher scores and more food being cooked and works like a charm mechanically, creating a genuinely great multi-player experience. Delegation and role management is the way forward here and it is a real honest, tried and tested experience that the developer has delivered in the past, and as a party game it comes highly recommended for some couch play and some possible drunken foolery.
Further in, the game design throws more and more at you, different environments introducing different challenges. One early level sees you jumping from one bus to another, hurtling down the road and cooking up some burgers for the other motorists, and another on a pirate ship with a constantly moving kitchen shows a great commitment to level design that does pay off more often than not in multiplayer. Sadly however, these neat twists serve to highlight the flaws of the single player experience.
Credit must also be given to the fantastic soundtrack. Reminiscent of Pixar soundtracks mixed in with some more catchy and bouncy tracks that keep the energy going whilst staying in-theme with the game itself (a surprisingly hard thing to do), I found myself humming a few of these numbers long after putting the controller down and enjoyed discovering new tracks while progressing throughout. The humour and the sound really helped top off a splendidly fun experience, so credit where credits due on that one.
So, overall Overcooked is an enjoyable, bright and jolly multiplayer experience let down by it’s single player content. It was designed clearly with multiplayer in mind, but this doesn’t completely excuse a clunky get around in single player, which sadly reduces the game to a multiplayer experience only in my eyes, with single player being something I completely ignored as I spent more time with the game. However, this is where it really flourishes into something worth playing, the multiplayer experience is an absolute joy, and if you’re in a situation where you can regularly play it with friends, I wholeheartedly recommend it.
Reviewed on PS4, developed by Ghost Town Games ltd, published by Team 17