• Amy Toledano

Overcooked! 2—Team 17 & Ghost Town Games

Image courtesy of Ghost Town Games

What is it?

A cooperative cooking simulation game, developed by Ghost Town Games and co-developed and published by Team17, which you may remember for the classic Worms series.

What is it about?

It’s good to be back in the Onion Kingdom. This time round, the Onion King has accidentally summoned the Unbread by reciting a recipe from the Necronomnomicon. Only you and your fellow chefs can stop the ravenous horde. You will do this by departing on a quest to collect and learn all the recipes, and how to get more in-sync with each other in the kitchen. This will save the Onion Kingdom.

In teams of up to four players, you will (hopefully) cooperatively prepare and cook orders in settings strange and wonderful.

How did it make me feel?

The sequel introduces online multiplayer while preserving the couch co-op gameplay that made the first game so good. I feel that couch co-op is an especially valuable feature for this era of lockdowns and social bubbles. It’s a shame that it’s one that has been phased out slightly over the last few years, in favour of online. It’s much more fun sitting next to people you know. This might be an old-school sensibility at this point, but I do think it makes the inevitable yelling funnier.

And yell you will. You may be playing with someone you’re so close to as to be drift-compatible. This will not matter. Surrounded by cute motifs and whimsical characters and settings, there will come a point at which you will abruptly shift from ‘zero’ to ‘enraged’, and it will be glorious—and hilarious. You will not care if they’re busy. You will not care if they’re putting out a fire. You will not care if they’re lovingly chopping up tomatoes for you, unasked, to make your job easier, just because they saw they had a tiny bit of leeway and wanted to be helpful. You need them out of the way so you can deliver the order in time to get the score multiplier, without which you will not get the high score and will have to start again. You need them to move, now. This is serious.

This offers curiously nuanced insight into what kitchen work is really like, for those uninitiated to the culinary arts. Gordon Ramsay’s persona on American television makes more sense now. I played with someone who worked in a restaurant, and asked them whether this is how it feels to be a cook. “Yes,” they said. “The rage you feel playing this is a tenth of the rage that burns as hot as a pizza oven when you work in a kitchen with others.” (Actual quote.) Bet they don’t tell you that at the Cordon Bleu.

This makes the game sound intense, but it’s not in an unpleasant way! The gameplay is extremely satisfying and addictive, and the level design is intuitive and clever. You will want to push yourself to the limits of efficiency and hatch intricate battle plans and tactics. You will cook in hot air balloons that will inevitably crash, throw ingredients across floating platforms, and dash through portals to get to the cooker in time. You will make things like sushi, burgers, and burritos. You will fend off the Unbread by… making salad.

I was a bit disappointed with the secret ‘extra hard’ difficulty levels. They got repetitive after a while, no matter how cute the premise: Kevin the dog may love steamed buns but I don’t think I will ever be able to look at one again without thinking of complex conveyor belt strategy and feeling abject rage, which is a tragedy. Some recipe variation would have kept the increasing challenge fresh.

Overall, a very fun way to spend time with friends and loved ones.

Anything else?

The avatars you can unlock are all really well-designed and sweet. There’s plenty there to keep you playing and re-playing to try and beat your high scores.

Keep your eyes peeled when driving around the overworld map. Running over toast zombies makes the most delightful sound effect play. It’s fine, they’re fine, they get up again. They’re the Unbread.

Arden x

Overcooked 2 is available on Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Overcooked: All You Can Eat, a compilation of the first and second game, will be released on Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X.

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