Sometimes it’s easy to forget the depth of talent that resides on the fair isles of Great Britain. We’re home to some fantastic creative minds from the world of video games, and of course here I’m referring to Team17. The inventive folks behind the Worms series got behind a game called Overcooked! back in 2016; a title which was developed by Ghost Town Games. It was such a hit that Team17 themselves got involved in developing the sequel.
If, somehow, you aren’t familiar with Overcooked!, let me give you a brief recap. What hit shelves in 2016 was a couch co-op game where you and your fellow chefs needed to race against the clock to prepare, cook and send orders that quickly piled up across the top of your screen. If you were too slow, customers would walk out, and if you took your eye off the ball, you may have had a small fire to deal with.
Things started off fairly simple, but quickly got more complicated as you learnt how to prepare more dishes, and use different items of kitchen equipment. The strategic element of the game revealed itself as you (and your fellow chefs) needed to quickly figure out which sequence to tackle each order in, to keep your customers happily fed and watered.
What ties all the mayhem together is a ridiculous but endearing story set in the Onion Kingdom. You were on a quest to defeat an ancient edible evil (a giant meatball) by conquering all the kitchens in the land. You may think that there can’t be much variety across a campaign set entirely within the kitchen, but you would be wrong. You were chopping, frying and boiling your way around pirate ships, speeding trucks and icy terrains. It was utterly ludicrous, but even more fun to play. The campaign was constructed in such a way that the sense of adventure would keep you playing for hours at a time.
However, what Overcooked! is possibly most famous for is playing with your friends, as well as screaming and shouting at them. It was fun enough to play on your own, however getting others around the telly opened up a whole new level of entertainment. You needed to work together, simultaneously preparing orders to ensure your stint as chef didn’t turn into a kitchen nightmare. This was usually done by barking orders at each other, and often ended with more than a few crossed words. Overcooked! quickly cemented itself as one of the best couch co-op experiences out there, and remains so to this day. If you and your pals really weren’t getting along, you could play competitively instead to show everyone who was boss.
The controls in Overcooked! just about held up in the really frantic moments, but the occasional accidental move could spell disaster. Leaving something cooking for too long would cause a kitchen fire and waste valuable seconds as you frantically made the order again, as would dropping your carefully prepared dish on the floor.
It was easy to be fooled into thinking this game was for kids by how adorable the avatars and environments looked. However, in reality Overcooked! offered a real challenge for players of all ages and abilities. At times it was ruddy difficult to say the least.
The original Overcooked! Was then complemented by Overcooked! 2 and then, at the end of last year, fans were treated to Overcooked! All You Can Eat, which was a remastered collection of all the content from the first two games. However, the biggest addition was online play that was brought to the original game for the very first time. Although not as entertaining as local multiplayer, it remained a very welcome alternative option.
If you still aren’t convinced enough to splash some cash on this co-operative gem, Overcooked! 2 is available to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers which is as good a place as any to start. However, it’s the original game which holds a special place for me because it brought tension, frustration, but ultimately laughs with friends in a way I hadn’t quite experienced before. Just make sure to take a deep breath before you get stuck in…
You can play Overcooked! right now on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch and PC.