A Peachy Diary Entry #11: Overcooked Review

A must-play, deep dish delight.

Ghost Town Games should be commended. Couch cooperative experiences in the always-online gaming world we live in today are way too few and far between. Overcooked is as chaotic as it is hilariously fun, and playing through its colorful, charming, and incredibly challenging levels reminded me of days long gone of wired controllers, sunken couches and snack binging with friends into the wee hours of the morning. It’s a 4-player cooperative cooking game, and it’s definitely added onto the list of my favorite gaming experiences of 2016.

The idea of the game is simple: you are a chef! You must prepare as many meals as you can within the allotted time, all the while you prep ingredients, the recipes getting more complicated as you progress through its many clever levels. Salads, burgers, soups, pizzas; all of these dishes require specific ingredients and cooking times, but the simple controls and the helpful user interface makes this an easy-to-learn, difficult-to-master affair.

A large amount of AAA developers love to slap ‘coop’ on the box. It gets folks buying multiple copies of the game, and more often than not, all they feel they have to do is dump a group of players in the same spot to shoot the same things collectively, rather than creating an environment where you need to implement tactics. Here, a strategy has never been more important. You’ll be finding yourself assigning roles among your friends (one chops the ingredients, one preps them, one serves as a busboy, etc.) and sometimes the simplest bump in synergy could end in disaster: backed up orders, missed calls, dirty dishes, and a terrible score.

After so many games where helping your friends hop ledges or fending off waves of bullet sponges, Overcooked is a breath of fresh air. Also, it’s incredibly tough.

Moving platforms, faulty power, fires, slippery ice, and thieving rats all come into play at one point or another, making each level memorable, unique, and all the more satisfying to earn the three stars it takes to max out a level’s score. My friends and I were out of breath, wiping our brows after charging adrenaline rushes where one order made all the difference. If we failed to make a three star rating, we never blamed the level, we always looked inward in what we could do and diversify our tactics.

In terms of content, you’ve got a great chunk of levels to explore, and there’s fun to be had accumulating as many stars as you can and unlocking different sorts of wacky characters to be your avatar. For example, I took fancy to a cat while my friend loved playing as a raccoon in a wheelchair. The game has such a charming sense of color and shape.

The game is $16.99 on the PlayStation Store at time of writing, and I seriously cannot recommend it enough. I was smiling all the way through, and I keep thinking about it when romping through my action-packed triple A games, and of course, when I’m in the kitchen. My friends and I have already formed some great memories and narratives I’m sure we’re looking forward to telling our friends. Needless to say, I’m hungry for more.

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