Getting along like a house on fire…

Representation inaccurate — too many human chefs

Player 1 has Joined

Imagine replacing the dull, endless slog of cooking dinner with something bright and chaotic; there is a new way. A place where beating the ever-loving shit out of an onion — as a blackened pizza quietly catches fire in the background — is all that stands between you and a delicious onion soup. Also your kitchen burns down.

Overcooked is a delightful breath of fresh air in indie couch co-op, a genre dominated by combat-focused competitive titles like Samurai Gunn, Nidhogg and Towerfall. You and friends attempt to appease The Ever-Peckish, an enormous living meatball with an endless appetite and a penchant for destroying cities.

Did somebody order a blazing inferno?

Overcooked gameplay is simple. You receive orders and must cook and serve them before they expire. Ingredients are stored in labelled, unhygienic wooden crates. One must chop them on a chopping board before throwing them into a pot, or an oven, or a pan, or on a fire that has probably started somewhere.

Once time is up, you are scored on how many orders were fulfilled and how many missed. Three stars are up for grabs, patience often being required to gain all three.

Completing a kitchen opens up the next challenge on the world map. Navigation between kitchens is handled by a truck of which every player has control simultaneously. This is exactly as frustrating as it sounds, especially if your friends are arseholes.

I want a tomato soup made only with tomatoes larger than my head!

The graphics and sound are adorable, though the music will haunt your very soul and engender waking nightmares (more on that later). As you complete kitchens, you unlock more chefs to play as; my personal favourite was the wheelchair-bound raccoon. The environments are vibrant and varied; you find yourself wrapping burritos in space, cooking burgers in lava, and starting dangerous fires in moving trucks.

Player 2 has Joined

Without overstating it, I think this is Tong’s favourite game. She absolutely adored it, arguing very forcefully that a 3-star rating was essential for every level. Nothing less was good enough, and my feeble protestations of “it’s the middle of the night!” or “my hands are bloodied and raw!” were met with well-deserved disdain. We literally platinumed this game twice.

Not actually as difficult as it looks

Tong grasped the controls immediately; your character can move, pick things up, and dash. It’s a simple scheme and it works well. There is occasional difficulty picking up items on the floor, or when near other items; this was initially frustrating but certainly manageable. She did not experience any motion sickness.

Playing with 2 rapidly becomes an exercise in exacting optimisation. We strategised the most efficient division of labour, based on statistical analysis of likely orders and previous — thoroughly burned — failures. We are very good at this game now.

Some of the later levels are quite hard, and you will find yourself replaying them repeatedly for the 3-star rating. Many of these levels involve frictionless ice. I think I may have lasting mental damage from the worst offenders. The last level in particular is unreasonably hard; the majority are fine though, and the difficulty curve is well-balanced.

Far more difficult than it looks

Can you share it?

Overwhelmingly yes. we had a wonderful time with this game.

We completed everything within around 7–10 hours, and this really is the only significant knock against the game: there is not enough of it. Tong was — and remains — distraught when it became apparent that there was no more to play. That is a ringing endorsement.

Overcooked is developed by Ghost Town Games and is available on PS4, Xbox One and Windows.