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You can play Overcooked alone, but it’s not advisable. This food preparation ‘sim’ asks you to pick up, chop, cook, and plate various ingredients in order to have a meal ready to serve. At the most basic level this requires you to take a tomato, place it on a chopping board, slice it, take it to the saucepan, cook it, then serve on a plate/bowl as soup. Throw numerous different soups into the mix and even simple orders can cause problems. Introduce proper food (soup is what ill people eat), dynamically changing environments and an ever-ticking clock, and the whole thing can get rather stressful. On your own it’s near impossible at times. With friends it’s a great deal of fun.
A campaign of sorts sees you and ideally up to three friends (no online play sadly) cooking in a variety of kitchens as you work towards an event that could well end the world. You earn stars for each cooking session, and as long as you earn one you’ll unlock the next location. Working through the campaign also opens up stages for competitive play, which is the only other gameplay option on the main menu.
Like I said, you don’t really want to be playing Overcooked alone. Having to manage the preparation, cooking, and plating, as well as switching between cooks, is a recipe for problems. Thankfully this is a simple game to understand and learn, with only two buttons used. One picks up or places items/objects, the other chops or carries out an action such as washing up. The rest is pretty much common sense assuming the players have ever made themselves some food, so it’s perfectly possible to get together a group of non-gamers and have everyone up to speed in no time at all.
Once you have a group to play with and the basics are understood, the difficulty comes from working together in the ideal way. One person might be in charge of chopping vegetables, another preparing and cooking meat, another on plating and serving. If you’re really speeding through orders you might even need someone on dishwashing. Add in the fact that the environments you work in change, and you’ve got a fun and challenging multiplayer game.
Presentation is basic, with characters that look like crude digital versions of the Muppets and blocky environments, but it’s all functional and doesn’t hurt the simple yet devilish gameplay. What’s more grating is the awful menu music that resembles the iconic Godfather theme if used in a Dolmio advert.
Overcooked should live long as a party game. With simple controls and an easy to understand premise, anyone can turn their hand to it with ease, then partake in some truly stressful yet fun multiplayer cooking action. Just avoid if you’re going to be cooking solo or you’ll repeatedly burn the food and get pretty frustrated.
Version Tested: PS4