Overcooked is a couch co-op title developed by Ghost Town games, in which you attempt to save the world by cooking. The game is designed to be played with multiple players and focuses on the hecticness of trying to coordinate all of them. Overcooked has received quite some attention and has previously been released on PC, Xbox One and Playstation 4.
About the Game
In Overcooked, you and your friends take on the role of chefs, who need to serve dinner to hungry customers. A kitchen can be chaotic however and with a lot of food orders coming in, it can become quite inefficient for each cook to prepare an entire meal by himself. It is instead more optimal to split up the task; let one chef handle the slicing of the food and let another cook and serve it to the customers.
A variety of different and even quite impractical kitchens along with different dishes to prepare, offer the chefs some unique challenges. Finding the most optimal way to prepare a dish with multiple chefs is the key to getting high scores on the levels. Overall, the game requires two skills from the players; logical thinking to optimize the process chain and coordination with your teammates.
Story and Atmosphere
The game starts you off right at the end of the world, in your last ditch effort to save it by feeding a monster all the food it needs. However, the onion king notices that your cooking skills need to be honed a lot more to accomplish this task and sends you back in time to the year 1993 to do so. Your tasks from here on out are simply to visit a variety of restaurants all around the world and prepare all the food asked for by the patrons. The main story is quite light and progresses with a little text based dialogue once you finish a sequence of levels.
Overall, there are very few things in terms of story in the game, which makes it hard to critize the game on this category. The atmosphere of the game follows a different trend though. It is definitely evident that quite some effort has been put into the game with its aesthaetic design as the colorful artstyle simply looks great and clean. Concerning the levels, most of the kitchens you cook in feel distinct from one another. Some map themes are reused throughout the game like boats or trucks on a high way, but the level design felt like it brought a decent variety.
The basic gameplay elements are as follows. To cook a meal, you generally have to first obtain the ingredients from a box in the kitchen. You then have to transport it to a chopping board to slice it up and afterwards cook it. Finally, you can serve the food to the customers, once you have readied up and tidied up a plate.
Overcooked really makes the most out of these basics and adds variety to the mix by having multiple separate recipes that have slight variations in the order. A burger for example, usually consists of a bun, a patty, tomatoes and lettuce. The bun only needs to be taken out of the box to be prepared for the burger, the patty needs to be sliced and cooked, while the tomatoes and the lettuce only need to be sliced. Customers may have extra wishes though and only want a bun and a patty in their burger for example. Carefully using your time to follow the exact orders of the customers is necessary in this game.
Starting a level, you have a set amount of time in which to prepare all the food and to serve to the customers. We found that near the end of the timer, you may just stop playing for the last 20 seconds as the timer would very likely run out before being able to serve another meal. As cooking food on a stove takes quite some time, the game could’ve given you a grace period after the timer has finished, to complete and serve the meal if it already is on the stove.
There are dynamic map elements in the game. Conveyor belts make you time and coordinate passing on the food to your teammates. Tables that roll around the kitchen will force you to suddenly swap the assigned roles with your fellow chefs and doing so efficiently is the key to avoid overcooking your food. If you do overcook and burn your food, a fire will start in your kitchen, which you’ll have to get under control with a fire extinguisher.
There are quite a few interesting ideas implemented here, which can provide an entertaining experience with friends. However, the game does havea few issues. The biggest one would be its controls. You pick up and place down ingredients by pressing the right face button. This however seems quite imprecise and somewhat counterintuitive. You really have to face the food directly to be able to interact with it effectively and even though you are able to move diagonally, you are unable to pick it up in that direction. This results in a lot of misplaced food items, which overall makes this part annoying. As you are already trying to hectically manage all the ingredients as best as possible, inaccurate and unintuitive controls greatly hamper the enjoyment of the game.
Another big point of criticism to the game is its map and the way level progression works. Depending on your performance, you gain up to three stars on each level. You gain points by fulfilling orders and doing so quickly, will net you a nice little tip. If the timer for each individual order runs out though, it will reset and give you a point penalty. Getting three stars can be quite tricky then, as there is little room for mistakes in this case.
Entering a level requires you to have a certain amount of stars. We felt like this progression was too strict as at level 17, you had to have a total of 38 stars to enter it. This is quite strict, unnecessarily gates of progression and pads out game time by making you replay earlier levels. To add insult to injury, level 18 requires four more stars for a total of 42 to be able to enter it. Therefore, there is a chance that even if you have beaten the previous level perfectly, you still have to go back to earlier levels.
Going back to earlier levels is also quite annoying due to having to navigate the map quite slowly with a small bus. This is fine if you only have to traverse small distances, but scouting and moving all across the map for a good level that you can best improve your scores on is a daunting task. Overall, the issues with the controls and the gated off progression make the gameplay a much less enjoyable experience than it could be. As the game offers little else other than cooking, it can become quite repetitive if you play it for long stretches; Overcooked is best enjoyed if you play it for smaller and shorter bursts.
Nintendo Switch Performance
How good is the port to the Nintendo Switch then? The game unfortunately runs at a disappointing 30 frames per second with a resolution of 720p and 1080p in undocked and docked configurations respectively. The framerate seems to be stable throughout the game, but seems to stutter in special situations like the cutscene at the start of the game or even on the world map. Looking at the graphics of the game and comparing it to other games released on the system, it is strange that Overcooked only runs at 30 frames per second.
A nitpick to mention here is that the game blocks you from using the dpad if you’re using one of the bigger controller configurations, which would have been preferred for menu navigation. The game utilizes the rumble of the game to a slight degree. Here we encountered something strange though. If a player is currently washing the dishes, another will also feel the vibrations. This is probably a bug and unintended and is obviously just something that we needed to mention, but leaves the gameplay unaffected.
In total, the two detachable controllers of the Nintendo Switch make it a perfect system for Overcooked and we are definitely looking forward to more games like that.
As Red Value Gaming, we try to review games a bit differently to others, by giving a second review score in form of a monetary value. With this value, we try to give you an objective measure of the content of the game, which is evaluated seperately from the review score we give to the game.
The main campaign of Overcooked contains 30 levels, while the included DLC in the Switch Version adds another 14 levels to the game. There is very little in terms of story to the game, but the atmosphere is quite enjoyable with the game’s cartoony artstyle. The game features two modes, a standard Co-op campaign and a Versus-mode, in which you do a cook-off with your fellow chefs. You can also play the game alone, by letting the sole player swap between two characters with the press of a button. Overall, there is quite a bit of content in the game. Due to the somewhat repetitive nature of the game, we struggle to value the game any higher than $15.
Overcooked is a somewhat decent experience best enjoyed in short bursts with a couple of your friends around the device. Its gameplay is unique and interesting and is very well made for cooperative play and actually teaches you something about process chains and how to optimize those. However, the imprecise controls and the progression gating fail to impress us, which overall prompts us to give the game a score of 71. If you have a group of friends and want to play something cooperative locally, this game is definitely something you should check out though.
(out of 100)
Overcooked is a decent co-op experience with unique and interesting gameplay and is best enjoyed in shorter bursts. However, its imprecise controls and progression gating fail to impress us. If you have a group of friends and want to play something cooperative locally, this game is definitely something you should check out though.
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