Who left their fries in the sink?
Released on the Switch last year and two years ago on other consoles, Overcooked is a delightful local multiplayer game in which players frantically work together to cook up different meals. While it does have a single player mode, it is most suited for couch co-op as the gameplay was designed around two or more players working together. Oddly enough, the original lacked any online functionality, so players without someone by their side missed out on this fantastic multiplayer experience. Overcooked 2 finally adds the online features which makes this a vastly enticing pick than the original – but if you’ve already played Overcooked, you won’t be seeing many new features in this iteration.
The core Overcooked gameplay remains the same as it has always been – two or four chefs are situated into a kitchen faced with a slew of orders. Your goal is to either make as many of these meals as possible in story and arcade mode, or make more than the other team in versus mode. In co-op play, each player controls one chef. In single player or versus with two players, players switch back and forth between two chefs. Making each meal consists of chopping, frying and boiling ingredients and the real challenge is in coordinating the chefs to get all these tasks done as efficiently as possible. You also can’t forget about cleaning dirty dishes and putting out fires in an emergency. All actions are done with just a few buttons so there isn’t any sort of learning curve with the controls – you’ll pick them up quickly. Some stages have obstacles such as conveyor belts and moving counters that prevent you from getting from one place to another, adding to the frenzy. New in this iteration is the addition of the throwing mechanic which can add to your speed. Coins are earned when you serve each meal which translate to up to three stars at the end. One star isn’t terribly difficult, even when playing solo, but getting three stars can be a challenge.
The story mode is a simple plot where you need to please the king by feeding and satisfying a horde of zombies called the “unbread” which in turn will save the kingdom. The story chunks are charming but not especially memorable. Luckily, they don’t drag on for too long and throw you back into gameplay quickly. Getting from level to level is done by driving a food truck through a familiar world map layout. Playing the story in single-player is possible but gets quite difficult to manage in the later levels. This is definitely something you’ll want to play through with a friend if you can. Alone you’ll be satisfied enough by simply getting through the levels, but with someone by your side you’ll have more of a chance of earning all three stars as well. Along the way you’ll unlock many chefs you can play as. None of them have any special abilities or features, though, so they don’t impact gameplay at all.
One issue for those trying to best their scores would be the obtrusion of load screens when trying to play the same level repeatedly. After completing a level in story mode, you’re bumped right back into the world map, which takes a few seconds to load, and have to enter the level again and wait through the level’s load screens yet again. These screens don’t take too long to load, but in succession the time noticeably stacks up.
New in this entry is online multiplayer, something that fans were begging for after the first game. Since the gameplay is clearly designed around multiplayer play, it’s puzzling that this wasn’t here before. If everything works out as it should and both players have stable connections, this makes for an excellent online game. All the modes are accessible online, just as if you had the person right next to you playing couch co-op. One player takes control over which mode you play and the other is along for the ride. Unfortunately, only a small selection of the story’s levels are available in the arcade and versus modes, presumably because of how much space there is for four players to move around.
The menu system can be cumbersome when trying to host or join a friend, however. Both players need to select the same menu option, and there’s a lot of them. If you select the wrong one you need to wait through all the load screens. It would be much easier to just join a friend first and then mess around with which mode to play and whether you want additional public players to join you. Another flaw in the coordination of online matches is the lack of a signal icon like in other Switch games that would tell you who has the better or worse connection. The absence of this makes network issues nearly impossible to troubleshoot.
The Switch specific performance issues from the first game are all still present here. The game runs at 30fps in both docked and handheld modes with noticeable frame drops in the most frantic moments. The frame rate didn’t impact my enjoyment of the gameplay in the slightest but it is disappointing that it couldn’t be smoother.
Overcooked 2 is undoubtedly a sequel to the first game with new levels, characters, a slight visual upgrade and the addition of online. If you’ve already played the first game though, you may not have much of a reason outside of multiplayer feature-wise to pick up the second. If you just want more Overcooked though and aren’t expecting a revolution, you’ll be satisfied with the amount of new content. New players to the series will enjoy this on its own and since online is now available, this opens up multiplayer play to just about everyone whether you have friends next to you or not. Whichever way you play, this is a fun and frantic experience that everyone deserves to enjoy.