It is hard to imagine that a developer team of just two people brought Overcooked to life. Overcooked quickly became a hit with gamers as it both tested friendships and co-operation techniques as the increasing demanding levels required more and more communication and overall…patience. But when I reviewed it I did find the limitations on only having couch co-op available frustrating and so I was never able to really dive into the game properly unless my mates showed up to have a go. But now it has a sequel which is bigger and has evolved beyond those limitations. Overcooked 2 is here and oh will the screams of friends be heard across the world!
The premise of Overcooked has not changed for the sequel where teams of chefs work in a kitchen to fulfil the meal orders of customers eagerly waiting for their food. Chefs must pick up the right ingredients to chop them up, cook or combine them with other ingredients and then place all together on a plate and serve to customers. Sounds pretty simple doesn’t it but that is the real magic behind the success of the first Overcooked and why this sequel is so eagerly awaited. Simplicity is the secret source that makes Overcooked 2 finally the game I wanted.
Working together to cook the required meals is made a little more stressful by the fact you only have a certain amount of time to serve all the necessary meals in order to score enough stars to make it through to the next stages. It is then made even more difficult by the design of the kitchen you find yourself working in for each stage as you have to locate the ingredients then the chopping boards before finding the cooking equipment if required then plates to serve food on. Learning the layout of the kitchen is so vital to success and no two kitchens are alike and some will change so drastically the further into the game you go that it alone can lead to certain failure for teams of Chefs who fail to communicate properly.
The gameplay has improved since the original with new moves such as the ability for Chefs to now throw items to other Chefs which is frankly genius when you see just how challenging some of the kitchens can be which do start fairly straightforward. The team behind the game have really outdone themselves for the sequel with some truly devilish kitchens which I did not believe could get any tougher than trying to work in a kitchen split across two moving trucks. One of my favourites from this sequel has to be the hot air balloon kitchen stage which sees your Chefs attempting to serve as many orders as possible as the balloon is dive-bombing towards the ground. Racing against the clock always focused on just trying to serve meals but chuck in the threat of a crashing hot air balloon and believe me, you will be making your chefs get a wriggle on all the faster.
What has been made clear in developer interviews ahead of this release and something that is very evident in the sequel is that the original developer team reached out to TEAM 17 not just as a publisher but also to ask for help in bringing the changes they wanted to help make Overcooked 2 as amazing as possible. This has lead to a refinement on the visuals and animation which is evident in how Chefs move and the addition of new characters to pick but also in the design of the stages which really look phenomenal and far more devious in the later stages of the story campaign. It was a brilliant decision in my opinion to blend the brilliance of the original developers with the remarkable team at TEAM 17 to really bring out the very best that Overcooked 2 can offer. The tweak and improvements to the gameplay and visuals alone would be more than worth it but then they actually went and delivered on the original feedback of the first game and something I made a point of in my original review of Overcooked.
Online co-op has finally been added to the game, and for me this is perhaps the biggest game changer in Overcooked 2 for me and it is a most welcome one. No longer will you need to have all your friends to show up just to play the co-op which is where Overcooked truly comes alive and you can simply just invite friends who own the game to team up with you. Now you can still play this game solo by using the ability to use two chefs and the LB shoulder bumper to switch between Chefs but this quickly feels like a lesser experience because it never really does the game justice. Just having the online ability to have friends join you may seem like a very basic thing to have in such a game but the original dev team simply didn’t have the resources to include this in the original game but the very fact it is now a main part of the game opens up so many player experiences that it makes Overcooked 2 the must have co-op game to play in 2018 by far.
Not only has online co-op been added by a new Arcade mode which allows players to take on random stages from the game even if you have yet to unlock them in the main story campaign along with a Versus mode to make two teams of Chefs compete are both there to compliment the now online co-op option of which you can have both Public and Private set matches. Having the restriction of couch co-op alone removed really elevates Overcooked 2 to a place where it has been made more accessible to share the experience with others.
Overcooked 2 is everything I hoped it would be and I can happily say that with the addition of online co-op along with all the enhancements to gameplay, animation and stage designs, this really is the must have game of the summer. Everything that has been improved and added has been so based on feedback of the original and though the temptation to really go overboard on new features must have been strong, by sticking to what the original did so well and simply making it a better game has made this sequel shine even brighter. This game will make you smile and laugh but can also make you cry and rage and will definitely test friendships to the max on the most difficult stages.
This is a game fully deserving of 5 Michelin stars so do yourselves a favour, order a take away and either get your mates round or now just invite anyone on your friends list and have one of the best gaming experiences you will have this year.