Picture yourself and three friends in a line kitchen trying to keep up with the hectic orders. You’ll need to communicate and work as a team. Now picture that same kitchen, but it is constantly on a swivel or perhaps even a floating raft. It’s often hard enough to keep up with demand, and that’s without conveyor belts and public traffic getting in your way. You’ll find teamwork might devolve into your co-op partner pelting you with raw fish. This is a very limited explanation of what Team17 and Ghost Town Games have brought us with their sequel Overcooked 2. So pick your chef whether it be animal or human, put on your hat, and join us as we dive into the controlled chaos that is this overclocked kitchen. Will it get the order just right, or will this one be sent back to the kitchen?
We once again start our journey in the Onion Kingdom. This time, it is the deadly threat of the Unbread, an endless army of zombie bread, that is trying to take over. As your teamwork proves not to be enough, the Onion King and his trusted best friend Kevin send you out on a journey to improve your cooking skills and teamwork to come back and save the kingdom. On our journey, we will cook everywhere from city streets, mine-shafts and even hot air balloons. Going forth to learn new recipes from sushi rolls, hamburgers and even baking cakes. We will take on the challenges of getting the orders right and becoming the best chefs the Onion Kingdom has ever seen to save it from the moldy opposition.
Here’s what I Liked:
Today’s Spice is Variety– Overcooked 2 wastes no time throwing you into a multitude of environments. Some just add unique challenges, such as making getting your orders done quickly, while others have no problem being dynamic moving puzzles in themselves. These create a challenge whether you are playing solo or with a full squad. The variety also extends to the games’ recipes. When you first start, you will typically only make one or two different dishes. Later levels introduce two to three very different recipes in the same level while also requiring you to overcome hazards. It keeps everything fresh and makes replayability a joy to be had. It also sports a wide variety of chefs that you will unlock throughout your journey. Everything from your standard humans to a wide array of animals. The animals have a lot of personality in them as well. Whether you are being a human or a raccoon in a wheelchair, you are sure to find a character that makes you feel right at home.
New Connections– Overcooked 2 sports a new online mode. This was a feature the first one was really lacking. The new online however is fantastically done and offers an amazing time. Now, at any time, you and a few friends can be in different places and enjoy kitchen antics to your heart’s delight. You will be playing random stages from the story missions, so the level is always fresh, and you never know what challenge will come next. Also, we can speak from personal experience that during our time with the game that the connection was pretty smooth overall. Overcooked sported some of the best couch co-op and now Overcooked 2 ups the ante by bringing that solid action to the online space.
The Stages with the Special Sauce– Throughout your journey of the Onion Kingdom you can unlock special “Kevin Levels.” These levels take the mechanics you already learned and throw them on their head. Normally, this is done by making the obstacles overly difficult such as a level with just about nothing but constantly moving conveyor belts to impede your progress. They aren’t required to beat the story, but they are extremely fun and offer an awesome challenge.
Raising the Heat in the Kitchen– Overcooked 2 does a wonderful jump at gradually increasing the difficulty as you progress through its six worlds. When you start, things will be fairly easy. However, as you progress, things like increased obstacles and hazards and even washing the few plates you have available, create a real mind-bending experience. It’s hard to explain the feeling one gets when they are about to lose an order because they had to wash a plate, but can’t because there is a literal fire in front of them preventing them from doing it. These challenges are very fair and offer ways around them, but it is up to you as the player to problem solve them in your own way and they do a great job at creating multiple solutions to the same problems.
Throwing It in the Pan– Beyond the crazy kitchens that you will tackle along your journey. Overcooked 2 sports some fantastic additions. The introduction of throwing food across the map isn’t just exciting but necessary. At first, you find yourself just doing it for fun by throwing food to a fellow chef or maybe even landing it across the map into a pot or pan, but later levels require a solid mastery of this mechanic. It allows for much more creativity not just in gameplay but level design. Speaking of level design, it also introduces some special dynamic kitchens that literally change in the middle of a level. It is absolutely refreshing and creates a great moment of what do you do next, all while figuring out where everything is again to get your orders back in as the time runs down. These slight tweaks to the formula really bring a great feeling of skill and accomplishment, not to mention some awesome unforgettable gaming moments.
Here’s what I Didn’t Like:
It’s a Tough Road Alone– This game was always meant to be played with friends, and it shows. If you do take on the challenge of playing this solo, you are in for an uphill battle. When playing by yourself, you have one of two options. You can either control one chef and just swap back and forth between the chefs as you need to or play split-controller, where each half of the controller is re-mapped to allow you to control two chefs simultaneously. While this can be very entertaining, it definitely is not easy. As you progress into later worlds, this challenge proves far more daunting than normal. Is it possible? Absolutely it is, but it would not be the recommended path.
Wait What Color Was I Again?– The user interface for the online versus mode is more than serviceable, but could be a lot more clearer and streamlined for while you are in the heat of the kitchen. At the top of the screen, you can see both you and your opponent’s orders along with your team colors. However, if you aren’t paying attention to it like everything else, you can catch yourself doing the other teams’ dishes and scoring them points. This is a minor gripe, but it’s something that can still very much improved upon.
Overcooked 2 is a perfect example of how to make a great sequel to a smash hit. It takes everything we knew and loved in the first game and cranks it up to 11. The new online modes really put it over the edge in every way we hoped. The game is now more accessible to those that had interest but not enough people willing to sit down and play some couch co-op. From the varying environments and obstacles to some of the craziest kitchen scenarios you can think of, Overcooked 2 is a joy to play through and through. You and your friends will be screaming at each other one second followed with celebrating your victory the next. Overcooked 2 is a game that everyone needs in their arsenal when they want to have a great time.
Rating: Must Buy
Overcooked 2 was developed and produced by Team17 and Ghost Town Games. The game released on August 6th, 2018 for $24.99. A copy was provided for review purposes.