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Overcooked 2

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Casual
Publisher: Team 17
Developer: Ghost Town Games
Release Date: Aug. 7, 2018

About Andreas Salmen

I'm sure this is all just a misunderstanding.


PS4 Review - 'Overcooked 2'

by Andreas Salmen on Aug. 21, 2018 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Overcooked 2 is a chaotic co-op cooking game for 1-4 players in which you must serve a variety of recipes including sushi, pasta, cakes, burgers and burritos to hungry customers in a series of unconventional kitchens.

Buy Overcooked 2

At a time when the local co-op option in games is becoming increasingly rare, it's difficult to find an excellent local co-op experience. When the first Overcooked came along in 2016, it was a pure co-op game based on kitchen prep and cooking meals, so it instilled hope that there's still room for purely cooperative experiences in video games. Luckily for us, Overcooked delivered on all fronts and provided a challenging, fun and varied game that had groups of up to four people scream at each other about cutting an onion. The standouts back then were stages that would force you to rethink your approach and organization, walking a thin line between fun and frustration.

Two years later, the sequel, amply named Overcooked 2, picks up where it left off in making you and your friends hate each other more passionately. Overcooked 2 mostly offers what we expected from a sequel, but it isn't a perfect endeavor in everything it does.

Let's get a refresher on some of the Overcooked basics. We take control of at least two cooks in any of the game modes. Even if you play alone, which is possible, you'll have to control at least two cooks at any time to play the game. Overcooked 2 then provides us with a very basic and weird explanation about why cooks have to go into the world to hone their skills and learn new recipes. While it was a giant meatball monster in the first one, it's a bunch of endlessly hungry zombie bread (the Unbread) in the sequel. Regardless of the reason, we get into our van and drive over an interactive stage selector world map from level to level to earn stars and complete new challenges.

The stages are always kitchens or open spaces that include an oven for some reason. This is our battlefield. The stage timer starts counting down, and our orders pour in from the top of the screen, all with their own little timers. We have to chop, cook, fry and steam our way through all orders, and we receive coins/points for every completed order. There's also a tip multiplier if we complete every order without missing one. If you're playing with one or more friends, communication is key to making sure you get everything done in an organized matter. You have the option to play alone and control two cooks at once, but this is hardly enjoyable. The new throwing mechanic makes this somewhat more intuitive and less tough than in the previous game, but it's not the recommended way to enjoy Overcooked.

The control scheme is equally simple. We can pick up and put down things with the press of a button, dash when we need to get somewhere quickly, and we can interact with objects, such as chopping vegetables on a cutting board or using a fire extinguisher. So far, this resembles the move set from the first game. A new addition in the sequel is a throwing mechanic that is mapped to the same button to interact with objects if you're holding them. In the heat of battle, prepare to accidentally throw ingredients across your kitchen instead of chopping them. This may not sound like a big deal, since we're only adding one seemingly simple mechanic to an already limited set of moves. This changes up the gameplay a bit, though.

Gone are the days wheren we had to walk across a kitchen to hand off ingredients or plates. We can now throw everything across most areas, which may be problematic from a hygienic standpoint, but it's a great shortcut in a highly stressful kitchen environment. Once you get used to the throwing mechanic, it can become a powerful skill that allows us to throw ingredients into the frying pan, thus eliminating the need to traverse certain areas of the kitchen. It sounds like a high-stakes move because if you miss, you may have to walk further and retrieve the item. Throwing is very forgiving in the way it lands, so involuntary misses are rare once you get the hang of it, making it a borderline overpowered move in some instances. This is even more apparent considering Overcooked 2's difficulty across its six worlds.

If you've played the first title, you were probably expecting the sequel to step up the difficulty. Overcooked was quite challenging, but it never became unfair — or gave you a minute to breathe. It required you to constantly assess the situation, prepare orders, and be aware of the time. A three-star rating required work to achieve. Overcooked 2 has a surprisingly different approach to difficulty. It starts out fairly easy for most of the early and mid-game sections and ramps up the difficulty rapidly in the last segments. The first stages were frighteningly easy; I was able to achieve three stars while playing on my own. The developer has since confirmed that a fourth star-rating will be patched into the game for an additional challenge. Don't be fooled into thinking that Overcooked 2 is easy because extra unlockable levels and the last stages will test your skills.

While we progress through the campaign, the game introduces new recipes and stage mechanics at a steady pace, so we're constantly tackling new things and staying engaged until the end. It is pretty similar to the first game, but there are a few key differences. The title tries to get crazier by introducing aliens and portals, and it creatively moves objects into the gameplay. Recipes, on the other hand, tend to occasionally be too complex, especially since they are introduced with a flow chart and little explanation. It's easy to misread the complicated recipes, so there's some trial and error until you get it right. Those moments are frustrating rather than challenging, and they show that more is not always better.

Spanning six worlds with six levels and eight secret levels to unlock, Overclocked 2 has a fair amount to sink your teeth into. It's regrettable that most of the levels lack the challenge that made the first title so memorable. Again, this will likely get patched soon, but for now, that's where we're at. I wouldn't be surprised to see additional DLC packs in the future. All in all, there's enough content here to keep you occupied for several hours, especially through the overdue inclusion of online multiplayer.

All game modes can be played cooperatively online, which isn't as much fun as having all the players huddled around a TV, but it's great if you either want to play on your own or with a friend on the other side of the world — if you're playing on a system that includes online voice chat, that is (ahem, Nintendo Switch).

Graphically, there are little advancements. Overcooked 2 still has the plasticky play-doh look, which is fitting but hardly breathtaking. It does its job and runs smoothly, which is all it has to do. When we tested online matches, they seemed to run on a solid netcode and experience little to no interference or excessive waiting times to connect.

Overcooked 2 is still one of the best local co-op experiences to make your friends hate you. The sequel plays it safe, though, with few overall improvements apart from an online mode and a throwing mechanic. Add to that the inconsistent difficulty, which ranges from ridiculously easy to punishingly tough, and you have a game that is familiar but doesn't push the envelope as much as you may have hoped for a sequel.

Score: 7.8/10

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