Review: Overcooked (PS4)

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Title: Overcooked
Format: PlayStation Network Download (574.2 MB)
Release Date: August 2, 2016
Publisher: Team17 Software Ltd.
Developer: Ghost Town Games
Original MSRP: $16.99 (US), €15.99 (EU), £12.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E
PEGI: 3
Overcooked is also available on Xbox One and PC.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

DLC Review(s) For This Game:
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Gameplay:
Overcooked is a simple idea, you pick a chef from a strange assortment of candidates and prepare then cook an assortment of meals for impatient customers. The orders never stop coming and it quickly becomes hectic and crazy.

Thankfully each level has a time limit and a type of meal. You start off just making onion soup, then progress to another kitchen with onion, tomato, and mushroom soups. Before you know it you will progress to burgers, fish and chips, and more as you refine your skills.

But what is the point to all of this? Well in a short introductory level you are faced with a gigantic abomination that demands an assortment of culinary delights, but you are not cut out for it, so with the help of an ally and his dog, you travel back in time to become a masterful chef.

The longer a customer waits, the less of a tip you get, leave it too long and the person storms off and the order disappears. As you progress in the game the dishes become more complex and in most of the kitchens you have to do the washing up too.

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Something that is often forgotten and causes mayhem is the distinct lack of plates, you are too busy to notice until it’s too late and you’re running round with a pot of boiling soup. What also messes things up are the crazy layouts of each kitchen. Some are on ice, segmented on moving vehicles, during an earthquake, and much more.

The swell of the ocean causes one level to tilt making some of the worktops slide across the level, this blocks off one half of your team so they cannot reach certain things and have to rely on the others to pass it across.

Another level is set in a street party but people are walking straight through the middle of your kitchen and constantly get in the way. You can perform a short dash, handy for darting between people or over sheets of ice floating along, but it can also knock over a team member which can result in all kinds of trouble.

… always something going on …
Overcooking food quickly results in it catching fire and you have to be quick to grab the extinguisher before the entire kitchen goes up in flames. Cheeky rats can also make an appearance in some levels and pinch unattended food. There is always something going on and something to do.

There will be times when you have to grab as much food as possible before the level layout changes, which means you will resort to throwing it on the floor and anyplace else. What the customers don’t know won’t hurt them, they are happy just as long as they get their food.

One or two levels can sometimes be a little unfair, either with the movement of part of the kitchen or duties for half of the team. The level menu seems marginally slow to respond to user input, nothing that the rest of my family commented on or even noticed, but I did.

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Visuals:
Grabbing the correct item can sometimes take a couple of attempts, especially when you are flustered and the kitchen is messy. The game does highlight the item you are going to pick up and a slight adjustment to the direction your chef is facing is usually all it takes to aim for the right thing.

One or two kitchens have a few obstructions that partially block a worktop and so being able to see what is there can be troublesome. Each consumable has a little bubble above it with a picture of the food ingredient it is, when you combine things to make a meal, those bubbles can get in the way of anything behind it.

… a fun, cute, and silly game …
These are very minor gripes in the visual department as the game looks great. Patrons can be seen sitting in the restaurant, pigeons pecking the ground outside, and all the usual and some not so usual things you find in a kitchen.

The characters are comically plump but still light on their feet and Overcooked does not take itself seriously. You can have a cat or raccoon as a chef and no one cares about cross-contamination in this game. But why would they? This is a fun, cute, and silly game.

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Audio:
A mellow instrumental tune plays featuring a harmonica, guitar, and piano ensemble that evokes a chilled country kitchen in the twilight of summer. As you pick the menu choices a piano key is pressed, as if a small child is sitting on the edge of a stool listening to the music and tapping the keys.

A more upbeat and exciting tune fades in when you play a level, it quickly drowns out the chatter and sounds of a restaurant that only return if you pause the game. The pace picks up even more as the timer ticks down the last frantic seconds before it’s all over.

… everyone wants to cook and no-one washes up …
Online/Multiplayer:
You can play the entire game on your own, pressing L1 to switch between chefs and but unless they’re chopping food or washing up, they stand motionless awaiting your return. It’s almost a different game in singleplayer.

Overcooked is best enjoyed in a group. Two to four players makes this game special, and sometimes easier. I say sometimes as the saying ‘Too many cooks’ comes into play here and mistakes are made. Other players are accidentally nudged into freezing water or everyone wants to cook and no-one washes up.

A team that communicates and delegates often reaps the rewards of many tips and points at the end of the night. It feels great to have a smooth running kitchen, even if my oldest daughter ends up calling the shots.

Because the controls are so simple and the developers at Ghost Town Games are so clever they allow you to split the controller so two people can use it. Meaning you can have a four-player game with only two controllers. This can also result in hilarity as it takes some getting used to and mistakes are often made.

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This has to be one of the best local co-op games I have ever played. Who would have thought making a pizza with friends and family could be so much fun. Sadly there are no leaderboards or endless modes. There is however a competitive challenge mode for specially designed unlocked levels.

Who needs a team building weekend? Just get everyone to play this and eventually they will instinctively know what the team needs. As long as it’s a burrito filling or a plate.

… the room is filled with laughter and excitement …
Conclusion:
I like Overcooked in singleplayer, but adore playing it with more players. It becomes a crazy social experiment or team building exercise as people begin to shout out for various foods or plates because we all forgot to do the washing up.

The game is hectic enough just trying to keep the food leaving the kitchen in a timely manner to get some tips, but then you are faced with a kitchen floating on a sheet of ice or pirate ship swaying in the sea and things often go from bad to worse. Yet it never results in a scene from one of Gordon Ramsey’s shows, instead the room is filled with laughter and excitement.

This is a must buy for anyone that can muster at least one other player every once in awhile. Overcooked will forever remain downloaded on my PlayStation 4. Here is hoping for a dessert cart to be wheeled out full of delicious DLC.

Score:
9.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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