Real life has been the inspiration of many video games. Games in the Call of Duty and Battlefield series, for example, revolve around modern world history. The Grand Theft Auto series allows you to become a criminal (without being reprimanded!). And of course there are games that imitates life itself: The Sims being the premiere video game series of this genre. The culinary arts, especially one of the cooperative kind, is a largely untouched market. It changed last year, when Ghost Town Games developed Overcooked, a chaotic couch multiplayer game revolving around a group of chefs and their conquest to overcome all obstacles and serve food efficiently.
Before playing this game I had already heard from friends and the legitimate anger that they have felt. And they were absolutely right. Imagine a group of up to four people channelling their inner Gordon Ramsay in front of the screen because somebody is too slow at chopping lettuce. That is exactly what Overcooked is.
There lies a little backstory behind your endeavours. An insatiable spaghetti monster, the Ever Peckish, has taken over the world. The Onion King has sent you back to 1993 to give you time to hone your skills to defeat the Beast. However, the story is basic, and the game does not draw focus to it. Overcooked’s best feature is easily its gameplay.
The game’s progression is similar to the Super Mario Bros. series, where you need to finish one level in order to progress to the next one, though you’re able to revisit levels you’ve already completed. Before entering the kitchen, you choose a chef to represent you. You can be an average Joe, or you can be a raccoon on a wheelchair.
The tasks are quite straightforward and require no more than three actions to complete. The ultimate goal of each level remains the same: you need to serve a certain number of dishes before the time runs out. Just like any kitchen, you need to gather ingredients, cook, and clean. Beware of the beeping noise (not unlike a fire alarm for a good reason), as stoves will cause your kitchen to blow up in flames if you don’t pay attention.
Overcooked introduces variance in gameplay through the settings your little chef is placed in and is what makes this game refreshing. You may be cooking in a normal kitchen on one level, then you may find yourself having to serve penguins on an iceberg in the next. On top of stealing rats and being surrounded by freaking lava, you also need to test your patience with the hopefully-not-nitwits whom you are playing with.
But just like any team-accomplished goal, finishing a level brings immense satisfaction. The game does grind your gears, but damn it feels good to be able to finish a level with your friends after a gruelling session in an ever-changing kitchen.
Overcooked is the perfect game to air your frustrations and relay communication issues. You may do so on the PC, Xbox One, Playstation 4, and the Nintendo Switch for $22.