Developer(s) – Ghost Town Games
Publisher(s) – Team17
PEGI – 3
Released in late 2016, and published by Team17 after various expo tours to bring the game to the attention of wider audiences, Overcooked is a cooking simulator in which the objective is to raise as much money as possible in each respective level by preparing as many dishes as possible. I first became aware of Overcooked hen I went to my first expo, Play Blackpool 2015, and I had been following the progress of the game closely until it’s release. After playing the final product, I can say that I was not at all disappointed.
Graphics – 7/10
The game’s variety of conceptual design is heavily based on the layout of each level’s kitchen; many taking place in outdoor and indoor restaurants, whilst other levels take place in more varied locations, such as volcanoes and pirate ships. It also comes with quite an impressive soundtrack, but it’s the variety in scenery that truly makes the game stand out. It speaks of games with some of the most diverse settings conceived, including Super Mario Bros and Banjo-Kazooie to sight a few of many examples.
Gameplay – 8/10
The object of the game is to serve as many customers as possible in each level and to finish with a possible total of three stars, similar to Angry Birds or 10 Second Ninja X. Interestingly, it alludes to the fact that 3 Michelin stars are the highest accolade a chef can attain in the cooking profession. It’s an extremely challenging game, but at the same time, it’s also extremely fun. It’s satisfying to be able to adapt to the layout of each kitchen, and plan your strategy in accordance with the food that is being ordered by the customers; much like being an executive chef, in fact. There are penalties for overcooking food, as well as sending the wrong orders, which is also an integral part of where the game’s level of challenge lies. Whilst looking simplistic, beneath the surface, there is a system that is easy to learn, yet difficult to master.
Controls – 9/10
At times, the controls can be somewhat unresponsive, but not to the extent that it ruins the gameplay, like what has happened with many other challenging games that have been developed in the past. Most often than not if a player makes a mistake, it is down to how they perform in the game, which is how it should be. Apart from this one minor gripe I have, I was particularly impressed with how the developers had handled the controls scheme; it makes it, unlike any other game I’ve played.
Lifespan – 7/10
The single-player campaign mode in Overcooked has 28 different levels, as well as an end boss fight, which dependent on player skill, can take up to 4 or 5 hours to complete. However, the game was designed to be a primarily multiplayer experience, whereby two players control two chefs at the same time, which can make for many hours of entertainment. There was also DLC released for the game in addition, but with or without it, it does have a great deal to offer in terms of longevity. The only thing it lacks is an online multiplayer, which I think would go a long way to improving the experience even further, but that may be an idea to implement with a possible sequel. The idea of a second game would be particularly exciting to me since there is potentially a lot the developers could do to expand upon the concept even further.
Storyline – 7/10
The game’s story involves the chefs having to save the world from an entity known as the Ever Peckish by traveling the world and cooking. Although a story may not have been necessary, it is a nice extra detail the developers added to give the game that little more substance. The concept may sound ridiculous on paper, but some of the greatest games developed have had very outlandish stories attached to them, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing speaking from experience. For example, a plumber saving a princess from a dragon may sound strange, but it’s made for the most iconic gaming franchise ever created.
Originality – 8/10
As I pointed out, Overcooked is unlike any other game I’ve ever played; its gameplay layout and control scheme does extremely well to make it stand out from both mainstream and indie releases, which is why I had been excited about it ever since I first laid eyes on it. As I watched it develop, my excitement and expectations only increased as time went on, and in retrospect, I think it deserves the accolades it’s received since its release.
To summarize, Overcooked is a charming; yet challenging gameplay experience that is certainly worth playing again and again. The developers had outlandish ideas ever since the game’s inception, and to see all these ideas come together so well in the final product made me believe it was well worth the wait to see it fully released.