Overcooked 2 Review: Chaos Incarnate

Overcooked 2 is a cooperative party game for 1-4 players locally or online. It is available on Humble Bundle, Steam, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and Xbox One including Xbox Gamepass. The humble bundle link is a referral link. Joseph Pugh conducted this review on a standard Xbox One console.

Overview

While Overcooked 2 can be played solo, the core experience is that of chaotic cooperation between partners and friends. You will laugh and yell at each other in equal measure as the team attempts to cook and send out a variety of dishes while combating oddball hazards and individual incompetence.

It isn’t uncommon for one player to channel the inner spirit of Gordon Ramsay with a flurry of belligerent obscenities when another player turns a smooth sailing run into a casserole catastrophe. Often enough a level ends with half the kitchen on fire, meals half cooked and at least one cook crying in a bucket of salt. But that’s what makes Overcooked 2 fun!

Each level will continually slam the team with recipes that need to be prepped and cooked in a variety of ways and sent out as quickly as possible.

A kitchen on a set of shifting hot air balloons, what could go wrong!

The complications come in the form of the very elaborate level designs. Imagine if Jigsaw designed a set of kitchens. Where instead of killing victims with elaborate traps and puzzles, he tricks a team of cooks into killing each other because one of them clumsily dropped a finished meal into a slime pool and ruined everything.

Making sushi might seem simple until platforms start floating, you get hit by a car or a mini volcano starts spraying fire all over the kitchen. It’s crazy and chaotic. It requires both teamwork and the ability to quickly adapt to an evolving and increasingly absurd situation. Yet the game itself is very simple to play and could be learned by players relatively new to gaming very quickly.

Overcooked 2 Gameplay

The campaign features a series of levels that slowly elevate in complexity. You and your friends play as one of several kooky cooks and can unlock several others as you progress. The choice is purely cosmetic.

The general gameplay is about moving ingredients around the kitchen, prepping, cooking and serving them. Different stages can have a variety of recipes such as sushi or pizza.

Some recipes simply need to be cut up, others need to be cut, cooked, mixed or combined with other ingredients. The various cooking apparatuses are often placed inconveniently away from each other.

Cooking in a wizarding school is bollocks when the counters float away.

Some times they are across a room, other times a canyon. You can pick up objects, dash and throw them. Several actions take time to perform, such as cutting up food and doing dishes, while meals that are cooking or mixing will free you up to continue your tasks.

Leave something on the burner too long however and not only will the food be ruined, you will have a fire on your hands that will quickly spread if you don’t put it out.

Delivering meals will increase your score with additional points granted if they were sent in the right order. Yet speed is also a factor. Once the time limit is up your score is tailled and you earn one to three stars. Specific amounts of stars are required to progress to later levels.

When you drop your food into the slime pool, even the aliens will think you are an idiot sandwich.

The game is simple to control and the concept is easy to understand. The challenge lays in your ability to plan, execute and work together. You need to split tasks between the team. Throw objects and food to each other and pick up the slack when another messes up.

The level design is brilliant, and really forces the concept of teamwork. Some levels shift and move around, others present hazards and some stages have the cooks separated into areas that can be hard or impossible for other cooks to access. Requiring the team to gather and throw each other what they need to work.

It’s a wonderful type of lunacy, each level is generally filled with hectic bickering back and forth and a lot of laughter as things inevitably go wrong to hilarious effect.

Even this relatively normal-looking kitchen has a pneumatic platform that continually moves up and down.

That said, the campaign is incredibly forgiving, the score required for three stars is very low. My partner and I often hit it on the very first try even when we screwed things up. This can make Overcooked 2 feel a little on the short side.

Once you beat the campaign, you unlock the fourth star for each level that you can attempt. To say that this is difficult would be a vast and grievous understatement. I initially thought it was impossible.

To acquire, a score high enough for the 4th star, the moves of yourself and every other player must be precise, calculated and perfect. Often times a single mistake will blow it. Even then, if you execute everything task perfectly, but do so a tad bit too slow. You will still miss the mark.

After a lot of practice, my partner and I found that it was actually possible. But only just. I love hard games, I play most games on the highest setting. But it is very jarring to move from the extreme ease of the campiagn to the nearly impossible difficulty of the 4th star with nothing in-between the two.

Yes you can and will fall down that hole.

In addition to the campaign, you can play a versus mode and a survival mode. In versus, the cooperation is gone as the players compete with each other to deliver the most finished meals and obtain the highest score.

It is an interesting mode, but many times you will need to control more than one cook (just like if you were playing alone). In practice, this works out just fine, but it is a different experience compared to the cooperative Overcooked 2 gameplay.

In survival mode, you can play one of the campaign levels and see how long you and your team can last. Every finished meal you deliver adds seconds to the clock with the overall goal of playing for as long as possible. Both modes are fun and do a good job of adding some replay value to Overcooked 2.

Verdict

Overcooked 2 is kind of the gold standard for couch co-op party gameplay. It has simple to learn tight mechanics, solid level design and is most importantly a blast to play. Some of your enjoyment will rely on the company you keep, but as long as you can laugh at your own failures you should enjoy the experience.

It would sure be a shame if a bunch of construction workers continually shoved those tables around.

Playing Overcooked 2 solo is possible, but doing so misses the point entirely.
Overcooked 2 is a bit short for the price unless you’re interested in trying to top your own high scores, chasing that elusive 4th star. Yet the experience is so joyful from start to finish it is difficult not to recommend anyway.

If you are looking for a great co-op experience with trusted friends, you really can’t go wrong with Overcooked 2. It’s method to the madness gameplay will keep you entertained for hours. The short length simply leaves you wishing you had more of it in the first place.

Want to help keep Gideon’s Gaming cooking? Buy me a coffee below! Also, consider checking out my reviews of other co-op games such as BFF or DieTools Up and Degrees of Separation.

Pros

  • Easy to learn, difficult to master gameplay
  • Simple and tight controls
  • Brilliant level design
  • Fun and frantic co-op centric gameplay
  • Survival and versus mode enhance replay value
  • Varied levels in terms of mechanics and theme

Cons

  • Acquiring three stars on a level is incredibly easy while acquiring 4 stars is exceptionally difficult, no middle ground
  • A little short for the price

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