As a concept, Overcooked is simple, but ridiculously fun. There’s a wealth of co-op games available, especially on the Switch these days, but none are as fast paced or as hectic as Overcooked. I spent some time with the first game, though not too long, but it was fantastic how easy it was to jump in with a group of people regardless of their skill level. But it wasn’t always that easy to get a group of people together. Overcooked 2 has the perfect solution to this problem, but at the same time does a great job at expanding on the original in almost every way.
Surprisingly, Overcooked 2 has a bit of a story to it, which quite frankly makes no sense but is fun to follow along with anyway. In it, the Onion King desires to learn the most exotic of culinary practices and begins to read from a strange book called the NecroNomNomicon. In the process, he unwittingly raises the Unbread, a horde of zombie bread slices who then begin to wreak havoc on the world. Scared and with nothing more to do, the Onion King sends you and your partner chef on a culinary journey to learn all you can instead. It’s ridiculous but I love it for some reason, and it’s more than I ever expected in a game like this.Overcooked is a simple game and that’s probably why it’s so fun. It’s easy to catch a grasp of and almost anyone with enough effort can master it too. In it, you’ll control a group of chefs as they race to prepare meals for a hungry audience as they queue across the top of your screen. It’s a simple premise, but the resulting chaos that comes out of creating and preparing these meals is where Overcooked gets enjoyable. Not only will you have to keep out of each other’s way, you’ll have to make sure you don’t burn or overcook any ingredients while also making sure completed meals get out to service on time.
An early but simple example is the procedure to cook sushi rolls. You need a plate, which might need to be washed by someone first. You’ll need to get the seaweed to wrap it in, as well as a protein to put inside the sushi, which must be chopped (and sometimes cooked in a frypan) first. You’ll need rice too, but that can’t be used without being boiled. Leave anything running for too long and the kitchen will catch fire, ruining other meals unless you put them out yourself. It sounds complicated but throw in some cramped kitchens as well as some other environmental factors and it gets downright hectic.This is but one of the simplest recipes that is thrown at you early on in Overcooked 2, but the game gets progressively more hectic as you progress through it’s hilariously goofy story mode. You’ll prepare salads in a hot air balloon while the strong winds slide around the locations of your workstations, before quickly crashing it into a sushi station and having to adjust your workflow entirely.
Overcooked 2 is committed to keeping things chaotic; and this is reflected in the locales you’ll prepare meals in. Eclipsing the craziness from the previous game, you’ll be able to prepare meals across space and time using portal transporters or even throw ingredients between kitchens floating down a rapidly shifting river. Throwing ingredients is new in Overcooked 2, and if you throw a raw ingredient at your assistant they’ll catch it, or you can bypass them entirely and throw it in a pot or pan instead. It sounds like a disaster in a fast-paced game, but it works surprisingly well with little issue.The pacing feels just right too. In the story mode, you’ll slowly be introduced to basic recipes. Think salads that require chopped lettuce and tomatoes. Then you’ll have to serve meals that require three components, but all of them need to be cooked. Then you’ll have to create three different recipe types using the same three ingredients, just prepared differently. Throw in some environmental quirks – like the need to wash dishes or a random fire popping up or even one side of the kitchen having fewer working stoves and things get overwhelming quickly.
With the first Overcooked I really felt like it was a bit of a challenge to convince four friends to come together to give some of the tougher recipes a go. Overcooked 2 remedies this problem, including a full suite of multiplayer options for those who want to play on the couch on one Switch like the good old days, locally with multiple Switch consoles or even online. I only found two or so matches online, but they performed rather admirably, much better than I expected at least.Players wanting to go at it solo can still do so, of course, but the experience is a little bit more stressful. You’ll switch between two playable chefs using the shoulder buttons and develop your own strategies, but this is a game that really feels like it should be enjoyed with more people. Despite this, there is something special about Overcooked 2 in that it encourages you to replay levels and work out the best most efficient way to serve up a meal to snatch that prestigious three-star rating.
Playing the game on the Switch, the usual presentation quirks apply here. The game looks slightly better in handheld and runs at a better framerate, though when playing docked only suffers from minimal slowdown. It’s not a deal breaker by any means, but worth mentioning that the performance is not the best it could probably be. During the more hectic kitchen runs, this is barely noticeable as often I was focused more on that task at hand than anything else.
THE NINTENDO SWITCH VERSION OF THIS GAME WAS PLAYED FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS REVIEW. DIGITAL REVIEW CODE WAS PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER.
Overcooked 2’s simplistic control scheme and basic premise means that anybody in your circle of friends can pick up and enjoy the fast-paced action the franchise has come to be known for. An improvement in every aspect, Overcooked 2’s addition of ever changing kitchen experiences as well as online multiplayer options cements itself as one of the best multiplayer (especially co-op) experiences you can buy right now. Delicious.