Overcooked (PlayStation 4) Review

By Gareth F 30.10.2016

Review for Overcooked on PlayStation 4

If kitchen-based reality television shows are to be believed, the only way to efficiently get meals from the cooker to the customer's table is by bellowing profanities at the chefs until some kind of orderly system emerges from the chaos. Amazingly, this aspect of the food service industry has been captured perfectly by Ghost Town Games in Overcooked, a frantic co-op catering game that provides the opportunity to walk a (virtual) mile around a kitchen in Gordon Ramsay's shoes. Cubed3 dons the hat and apron, sharpens knives, fires up the hob, and cooks up a storm.

It's the far flung future and it seems that the end of days has finally arrived in the Onion Kingdom. While pretty flustered about the plight of his domain, the Onion King believes that the final curtain call can be halted (or at least postponed) by throwing a few hearty meals in the direction of Ever Peckish, the gargantuan Godzilla/Cookie Monster hybrid currently wreaking havoc on the city. Getting the two best chefs in the kingdom to whip up some edibles to placate the savage beast sounds like a plan that might just work, but it seems that this creature just isn't the biggest fan of the salad.

Always thinking outside of the lunchbox, a contingency plan soon comes together that involves sending the two hapless chefs back in time (yes, really) to work in a wide variety of establishments and learn the ancient ways of food preparation, so they could come back and give Ever Peckish a meal fit for an Onion King. What could possibly go wrong?

Screenshot for Overcooked on PlayStation 4

It's all based on a fairly simple premise that, in many ways, feels like a modern-day iteration of the ancient arcade serve 'em-up, Tapper. Taking place in a wide variety of kitchens viewed top down, the orders quickly start to arrive, and it's down to the two chefs to knock up the orders in an orderly fashion and get them out to the starving patrons as quickly as possible. It's all about the preparation.

For example, when making a hamburger, its four main ingredients consist of a bun, lettuce, a tomato and, of course, the meat. Each item is kept in separate parts of the kitchen and require chopping before serving up, and in the case of the meat, conversion into a patty that can be thrown into a frying pan. Once the meat is cooked and the rest of the burger is assembled, it needs to be served on a clean plate, then taken to the serving hatch. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, considering that there is a constant stream of orders arriving, all differing slightly (minus the lettuce, just the meat, etc), the potential for it all to escalate out of control is more a case of "when," rather than "if."

Finished meals generate a dirty plate, which needs to be collected, taken to the sink, washed up and very likely utilised for the next outgoing meal. Items being cooked need to be closely monitored as failure to remove from the hob when finished (or in the case of soup, failing to add one of the multiple ingredients in time) will result in a fast spreading kitchen fire, which is easily dealt with by a nearby extinguisher—but guess what? The burnt offerings get binned and the cooked part of the meal needs to be started again from scratch. Yikes.

Screenshot for Overcooked on PlayStation 4

A well organised buddy system can quickly spiral out of control with the tiniest mistake, and once flustered it's pretty hard to regain control of the situation. Dishes served quickly will earn a good tip, while conversely, slow service will get penalised usually via a deduction to the current score. Given that progress is reliant on earning a number of score-targeted stars to unlock the next kitchen, it becomes fairly crucial to retain as many points as possible. Just to make it that little bit harder, each round is played to a strict time limit, further amplified by the in-game music that speeds up the closer it gets to zero.

While the idea of trawling through a variety of kitchens might not sound like prime party gaming fodder, be assured that Ghost Town Games clearly had a blast thinking up some genius additions to ramp up the fun factor. For example, one level takes place on a floating iceberg, where the dynamic duo attempts to serve fish and chips to a bunch of hungry penguins, which would be a lot easier if the regular icy slips over the edge didn't see half the meals end up in the water. Then there's the pirate ship that lists from side to side, changing the layout of the galley with each movement and blocking off certain workstations to force a long walk around.

Screenshot for Overcooked on PlayStation 4

A few levels enforce a temporary kitchen split into two halves that flips between states, such as two moving catering trucks that occasionally align or a kitchen in an earthquake zone. These will either trap the chefs in a certain area, or worse still, deny access to a smouldering pan about to burst into flames. Some kitchens are permanently divided, with a chef situated in each half and reliant on a Yo Sushi conveyer belt system to get items to one another, some of which lead directly into waste bins, meaning any delay in collecting an item sees it fly straight into the garbage. Rats can be problematic, too, and will occasionally run into the kitchen, grab an unguarded item about to be prepped, and scurry off with it from whence it came. Who knew being a chef was so hard?

Overcooked has very much been created with couch co-op as its primary focus, and it accommodates up to four players simultaneously, making it the perfect game to fire up in a social gathering. Ghost Town Games thoughtfully provided an option to split the controller into two halves, meaning that a two-controller household can get a full complement of four players to help maximise kitchen efficiency. Having enough chefs to man a workstation each definitely helps, so it seems a bit of an oversight not to include an online multiplayer option for those times when there are no playmates to hand (though Share Play can help fill one of those slots).

There is a single-player campaign that forces control of both chefs at once, switching between each when necessary, but it really is a futile exercise in plate spinning that's guaranteed to end in failure, and to be honest, is nowhere near as enjoyable. Also included is a Versus mode, which again is best enjoyed with four players as it involves two competing kitchens trying to outperform each other for the highest score.

Screenshot for Overcooked on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Like all the best party games, its strength lies in its simplicity, its clever design, and the fact that it's just so much darn fun to play. Overcooked is one of those rare gems that possesses the ability to endlessly generate comedy moments and is the perfect choice for those lengthy multiplayer sessions, though probably best avoided if Gordon Ramsay is due a visit.

Developer

Ghost Town Games

Publisher

Team17

Genre

Party

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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