I have just recently played Overcooked 1 and played it with my husband. Unfortunately, after a few hours of frustrating repeats on the same maps, we got stuck as the game required us to get a specific number of stars to progress. When a game is too difficult and slow to progress, it takes away the fun. When I was asked to review Overcooked 2, I had mixed feelings about it.
Reviewed: Nintendo Switch
Platforms: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC via Steam
Developer: Ghost Town Games
Publisher: Team 17 Digital Limited
Release Date: August 7, 2018
Review code provided by Team 17 Digital Limited
As excited as I was after its announcement during Nintendo’s E3 presentation this year, I also had qualms and the fear of not being able to finish the game without any help, or without a coop buddy. However, I’m relieved to say that I kind of breezed through the first few stages without any difficulties, feeling like a pro – solo. Although still best played coop, the game did not only allow me to progress the single-player mode, it allowed me to enjoy it. Why? Let’s go through it one by one.
Like it’s predecessor, Overcooked 2 is still a game about being organized, communication (if co-op), while running around trying to cook and complete orders that keep coming in. What’s different? After time travelling in Overcooked 1, and surviving the Meatball Apocalypse, Your Highness, Lord of the Onion Rings from the Onion Kingdom went all crazy cooking up an odd recipe that backfired and resulted to zombie…err…breads. Hence, watch out for the Un-Bread.
To hold off the horde of unbreads, you have to chop-cook-serve repeat. This loop is not unfamiliar, but Overcooked 2 surprised us with better looking graphics, different stage levels, an interactive menu (you can actually drive your car around the map and run over scattered unbreads), the map also has levels now, you can toggle switches on the map to inclined planes that will allow you to traverse through a higher terrain. And there’s a lot of in-game surprises.
One of my most favorite improvements is the ability to toss food. Although you are limited to toss raw materials only, you have no idea how much this saves you time to finish more requests. Food can be tossed directly onto pots and pans, cutting boards, to your coop buddies — just make sure that you are throwing it at a right direction, from the right distance. Aside from the dash, tossing lessens the tedious back-and-forth unlike the first game. Hurling the ingredients will ultimately become an important and mandatory procedure in some stages.
Stages can change a lot, Overcooked 2’s kitchens have more moving parts, this was very minimal from the first game. The game also features levels: stairs, moving platforms, portals, magic portals (too much and I’ll spoil you). The game levels are very exciting, inventive and on fire (sometimes literally). Take this for example, the stage starts off with your kitchen in a hot-air balloon, during a meteor shower. Then the balloon catches fire and eventually crashes, and coincidentally, into a different kitchen, then different sets of orders start pouring in. It’s a different level of crazy, mouthful crazy.
Overcooked 2 also has “secret” stages. You will have to find and toggle switches that will allow you to unlock them. It’s not really hard to find these switches, but if you don’t explore the map enough, it might not be hard to miss a couple of switches if you’re not too careful. And speaking of careful, the game controls are very sensitive, you have to be nimble and precise, otherwise, any wrong movement, you’d end up picking something that isn’t what you need at all, or fall off the edge, or get run by a car. Haste makes waste.
Overcooked 2 also has new recipes. Many of which are new to the sequel. It’s no longer about cooking the same of three ingredients. It’s become more challenging in Overcooked 2 by combining several ingredients, then frying, boiling, steaming and baking, to make a whole pizza, sushi, salads, burgers, etc. Things can really be chaotic around the kitchen, hence it’s really a plus if you play co-op.
The game now has online functionality for multiplayer, aside from local co-op. You can play with friends even when they are not around or with random players. To complete the multiplayer experience, Overcooked 2 came with this other add on: the emote button. Since there is no voice chat or anything yet on the Switch version, you can express your appreciation or frustration to fellow players using the limited emote options. This is particularly frustrating for a game such as Overcooked 2 which requires a lot of communication, so if you’re a control freak like me, you’ll probably want to play this game on its PC, PS4, Xbox One iteration.
As the game progressed, the game became a balance of gradual difficulty. You still cannot choose a level of difficulty but surely, unlike the first game, gettings 2 stars is very attainable. You will still have to use stars in order to unlock the next levels, but with the game’s current difficulty level, it’s achievable, even on solo play. You may need to replay certain levels to get the hang of it, but that’s the gist of the game: strategize and communicate.
Progressing is the game’s way of rewarding you. You get to unlock different characters like the original, but it’s hard to appreciate the different characters since they don’t come with perks or anything, just a change in appearance. Although it is understandable that it would make the game unbalanced if these characters have perks, but it would be nice if you can unlock characters with special abilities that you can use even on just solo play.
The music still sounds like one of those royalty-free music that you hear too many times when playing some how-to videos in YouTube. Nothing major, but it gets annoying sometimes when it’s repetitive especially when you’ve repeated a single level several times.
With over 10 hours for the campaign mode, after you finish the game, you will still have a few of the 25 chefs left to unlock a handful of stages left to complete 3 stars. The game also has other game modes such as the Arcade and Versus modes. All modes can be played online, and matchmaking is available for Arcade and Versus.