After playing Overcooked 2, I can see why running a kitchen would be terrifying, exciting and altogether maddening.
There are always too many orders, everyone wants something special and it never really ends. It makes you want to tear your hair out.
So in getting ready for this review, I assembled my band of merry friends, prepared them each for the trials to come and told them that this would not be an easy journey.
Overcooked 2 Review
But after three straight nights of mainlining the campaign, it has easily been one of the most fun, over-the-top gaming experiences I’ve had in recent years – even if I was nearly bald by the end of it.
If you’ve never played Overcooked, the theme is simple – you and your friends (up to four total, couch co-op and online this time) are running a kitchen. You need to assemble ingredients and serve dishes as per the orders that come in and you’re scored by how many orders you complete.
You need to grab ingredients, then cut, cook, mix and send orders as they come in. You lose points for any orders you miss or get wrong and at the end, you’re given a total rating out of three stars for each level.
Overcooked 2 doesn’t reinvent the wheel (of cheese?), but it does make a few very smart additions that spice up the formula and give you some new challenges and tactics. There are a buffet’s worth of new maps, a handful of adorable and returning chefs to play as, and a couple of new multiplayer options.
Oh, and yes, the campaign is still about the Onion King and his puppy companion Kevin.
Following The Recipe
The story in Overcooked 2 is a suitably insane outer shell to the delicious gameplay filling. The Onion King makes a kinda stupid blunder by reading a spell from the Necro-nomnom-icon and accidentally summons an army of ravenous slices of zombie toast known as The Unbread.
And yes, those A+ puns are everywhere.
You spend your time driving around the overworld map in your own little culinary tour bus and practising your teamwork cooking skills until you’re ready to defeat the dreaded Unbread hordes.
It’s fairly similar to the first game, which had you travelling through time in preparation for the impending arrival of a giant spaghetti monster. But this time there are a few additions that make it worth returning to.
Everything that Ghost Town Games have added to the sequel fits perfectly into the world, and most of the new gameplay additions to Overcooked 2 fit the game so seamlessly I had to go back and check they weren’t in the original.
Just One Wafer Thin Mint?
The biggest gameplay addition is the ability to throw uncooked ingredients, this means that if you collect a steak from the crate and need to get it to the chopping board, you can toss it across the level and let someone else start chopping.
It may sound small, but as a veteran of the first game, trust me this is the best thing since sliced bread.
This means that you spend less time completing all of the cooking steps yourself out of necessity and it allows you to break up tasks and create a more efficient chain-gang of production.
When we were making sushi over a busy urban street, we’d have one person collect ingredients from one side of the road, throw it over the other side, where someone else prepares it and tosses it to a third person who was assembling and sending out dishes
How you manage to throw a handful of uncooked rice straight into a pot from twelve feet away with any accuracy I’ll never know.
New Menu Items
The new recipes that have been added to Overcooked 2 range from simple to diabolical, but they all fit the theme and style of the game naturally. There are plenty of old standbys like pizza and burgers, but add in dumplings, sushi, burritos, cake and more and you’ve got a massive list of ingredients that the game can throw at you at any one time.
It felt like as we progressed through the campaign, there were always new things coming at us, and beyond the intricacies of each level, we always needed to reassess and readjust our tactics based on what we were cooking and where.
Speaking of levels, there’s an awesome amount of variety here that takes what was already in Overcooked and builds on it in exciting and weird ways.
There are certain levels that will change and evolve as the timer counts down, like one that starts in a hot air balloon that eventually crashlands into a kitchen, adding more recipes to the mix halfway through. Or another that started in an underground mine but ended flowing down a river.
The new additions also change the standard levels as well, In the original game, the worst obstacles you had to contend with were environmental like sheer drops or flowing rivers, as well as occasional ignorant NPCs walking through the kitchen.
But in Overcooked 2 I’ll never forget one teammate crying out in dismay at the start of the level: “that’s a road, there are cars on roads” before spending the next five minutes dodging sedans while trying to juggle sushi.
All this lead to three nights with my couches packed, all my friends with beer and chips in hand, yelling and screaming that they “need more cheese – yesterday!” Or there was no way I’d be able to hurl a handful of chopped chicken over that river and into a deep fryer – spoilers – I could, and it was glorious.
A Few Spicy Additions
All this being said, not every addition to the game landed perfectly for me. In the overworld between missions, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the new elements there were added more to add something new than to improve the experience.
New buttons around the overworld that open upstairs to link you to new areas often just felt like pointless busy work between you and the next level. The buttons are never really hard to find and don’t really add anything to the overworld except something else to drive over to before starting the next level.
There are also new side missions throughout the world that are much harder than ordinary maps, but to unlock them you need to hit hidden requirements. In the end, I saw about half of these maps, but I never knew what I did to unlock them, or what I needed to do to unlock the others.
Another point that probably comes more to my personal play style is that I’d love a button at the end of a level to quickly reload and replay that mission. As it stands you hit the score screen, load out to the overworld, select the level again and load back in.
At least one of those loading screens seems redundant, but admittedly, I and the people I played with refused to move onto the next level unless we’d scored the maximum three stars on the last one. On some of the harder levels we’d play three or four times, and ended up hitting restart before the level ended if we knew we wouldn’t make it.
Earn Michelin Stars
My final criticism is that the levels didn’t feel as well themed as they were in the first game. Although the variety and difference in menu items kept things exciting from level to level, in the original Overcooked I remember doing a slate of pirate levels, then dessert levels, haunted levels and space levels in chapters.
This time the themes feel more sporadic and generally less cohesive. From one stage to the next I played an urban street level where I was dodging cars, then a level floating down a river on a kitchen split between two rafts.
Even though the levels moved along at a brisk pace and each of them was exciting in its own way, it made the discovery of finishing a chapter and starting the next one slightly less impactful because there wasn’t a whole new theme to learn.
All this might seem that I have as many criticisms as praises for Overcooked 2, but really that comes from a place of love. I absolutely adored the first Overcooked, and I love Overcooked 2 in exactly the same way.
Playing through Overcooked 2 over the last few nights has been like reliving an old memory in all the best ways, and playing one of my favourite games with some of my best friends all over again. So it’s because of that love that I do need to level some criticisms as well because the base of Overcooked 2 is a delicious soup that makes me keep wanting to go back for more.
But like a funny aftertaste, these small imperfections stand out just a little more in contrast.
Overcooked 2 is a game that will create evenings all on its own, it’ll help you decide who you want to spend more time with, and who isn’t being invited over next time. It will turn friends into enemies and best friends into brilliant rivals.
Overcooked 2 is everything I wanted it to be, and a few issues notwithstanding, I’m very glad I came back for seconds.
Overcooked 2 was reviewed on PS4 using a digital code provided by the publisher.
Game Title: Overcooked 2
Great co-op gameplay - 9.1/10
Insanely Addictive - 7/10
New additions are a blast - 8.6/10