Developer: Ghost Town Games Ltd.
Publisher: Team17 Digital Ltd.
Reviewed: PlayStation 4
Overcooked makes me so glad I’m not a chef. Ghost Town Games’ deceptively simple cooking game offers a sizzling hot take on the hospitality industry’s notoriously busy kitchens, but not without poking fun at itself first. The Onion Kingdom is under threat by a gigantic, insatiable meatball called The Ever Peckish, and it’s during these opening moments players are taught the basics: Chop, combine and serve. At first, it’s just salad and tomatoes, but the singleplayer campaign, which is sprawled out across a creative menu that’s navigated by bus gradually reveals additional ingredients like mushrooms, onions and raw meat. In every level, a timer starts ticking down to zero, customer orders keep snowballing, and tension levels keep rising, transforming Overcooked into a challenging experience that somehow dodges monotony.
Even though the core gameplay loop is simplistic and repetitive, there’s a three star rating system (typical of many popular mobile games) that keeps things fresh, as well as a final score that’s influenced by how many orders you complete successfully, and any additional tips. Overcooked stays true to Bushnell’s law, introducing annoying customers that block your movements, time penalties for ‘dying’ and pesky dishes that must be washed. As a consequence, achieving three stars becomes progressively more difficult, and demands effort and mastering the layout of each kitchen – which can vary from rickety pirate ships to the inside of trucks rapidly speeding down the highway. The visuals are basic in a Job Simulator kind of way, but the crazy variety kept me laughing and eagerly anticipating what the next kitchen would look like. One consistent gripe I have with Overcooked is the top-down perspective, which sometimes blocks your view at the bottom of the screen – and you can imagine how anxiety inducing that is amidst the jarring sounds of the smoke alarm as your burnt tomato soup bursts into flames!
Since its release last year, Overcooked has expanded its culinary repertoire with The Lost Morsel and The Festive Seasoning, DLC packs that add longevity and new recipes to the game. Immersive, flippant gameplay makes Overcooked a fantastic game that would no doubt shine in couch co-op mode. It’s a real multi-tasking dream come true, and you’ll be relieved Gordon Ramsay isn’t there to scold you when your burger is still rare.
A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.