Any round of Overcooked has a number of things that can happen, which run along a spectrum like this: either you complete all your orders and are given three stars, or the entire kitchen goes up in flames as your chefs are gunned down by fireball turrets. And when you add rowdy friends to the mix, good things don’t usually happen.
Overcooked is an arcade-style cooking game developed by Ghost Town Games and published by Team 17. With the players in the role of the chefs who run the kitchen, your goal is to make meals in a hectic kitchen under pressure of a time limit. Of course, Overcooked is never that simple, and most every level has some twist thrown in, such as giant rats that try to steal your food or the whole kitchen being situated on a slippery float of ice. Overcooked is a cooperative game, but the simple challenge of even getting your friends to work together is half the fun.
As with its previous releases, Overcooked: Special Edition has local co-op for up to four players. Yes, one can play the game entirely in singleplayer; where the game becomes a test of system memorization and player efficiency; and while certainly enjoyable, it isn’t quite the crazy experience that multiplayer is. A full kitchen of four players is usually like something ripped from Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.
Overcooked is a challenging game and not all teams are up to the challenge. Cooking the food is simple. Most ingredients require only one step of preparation and the most complex item is four ingredients total. But managing a cooking pizza, dirty dishes, ingredient preparation and an environmental hazard means your team has to be on-point to succeed. Usually, ingredients end up on the floor and someone has to use the fire extinguisher at least once.
Of course, burning things and having your character cuss-out your friends (yes, there’s an actual button for wingdings-style cursing) or pushing them into lava is fun too.
The level design of Overcooked is one of its strong suits. Each level works a simple concept; this kitchen is split between two trucks, this one is on an active faultline. With an average time limit of three to four minutes, levels are fast-paced and figuring out a level is done while getting to work. Overcooked keeps its chefs on the move, and the only dull moment is the time it takes to find the next level on the world map.
The map and the levels themselves have a great aesthetic and the overall look of Overcooked is certainly very light-hearted and fun. And honestly, what more could you ask for, other than the ability to play as a dinosaur chef, or a panda that looks like a grumpy Steve Seagal?
Followers of Overcooked might wonder what’s so ‘special’ about the Switch’s Special Edition version of the game. Overcooked: Special Edition does include the DLC of the original Overcooked as part of its package, but then so does the Gourmet Edition found on Steam, and for the same retail price. Honestly, the only real difference between the two mechanically is the Switch’s addition of its HD rumble feature, which means your controller rumbles in response to certain notifications or kitchen crises. But what the Steam edition doesn’t provide is the experience of playing on the Switch.
Playing a multiplayer kitchen is much easier on the Switch than via Steam. It’s local-only either way, and with the Switch’s ability to split two controllers into four, it’s much easier to shift gears and get started. The game itself doesn’t require too many buttons either, so the minimalist Joy-Con feels almost perfect for Overcooked. And with the ability to bring the game anywhere, it’s a nice multiplayer package.
Of course, any port isn’t perfect. At the time of this writing, Overcooked: Special Edition has been experiencing some frame rate issues. Typically, this manifests in a slight slipperiness of sorts; a sudden difficulty in targeting a specific tile; but only sometimes. But I’ve experienced this myself and I believe most reports are overexaggerated; to deal with the problem, one merely has to slow down a little before performing any precise actions—something one should do regardless. Currently, the developers are at-work on this issue and it’s likely it will be sorted out soon anyways.
Overall Score: 8.8 (88%)
Summary: Overcooked: Special Edition is the edition this indie cook-off needed. It could use a few finishing touches yet, but it’s still a good game, and one you’re sure to enjoy with friends.
- Good value; all DLC included with the main course
- Robust campaign and versus modes; plenty of challenges to keep one occupied
- Local multiplayer for up to four people, across all modes
- Fun, colorful aesthetic
- Levels are challenging and have a great variance
- Some framerate issues currently, but these are being smoothed out by the devs
- Star requirements for levels can be a little steep sometimes
- Level mechanics work much better for multiplayer than singleplayer