The first Overcooked was widely recognized as the true relationship tester. It was for my girlfriend and me, more powerful than what any counsellor could achieve. The obsession of obtaining three stars on every level was the true kicker. Fortunately, we came out of Overcooked with every trophy obtained after having defeated the spaghetti and meatball monster without having broken up. Just when we decided to never play another game that would test our relationship to such extents, along came Overcooked 2. Thankfully, after having completed Overcooked 2, our relationship is as stable as ever.
For those who enjoyed the prequel, you will feel right at home with Overcooked 2. It also follows exactly the same concept. The gameplay mechanics are also the same, and even the Onion King makes a return along with his trusted pet, Kevin. This time, you’re cooking to prepare yourself for a battle against a bunch of evil zombie toasts known as ‘the Unbread’. I have no doubt in my mind that whoever came up with the script was clearly overdosed – I wouldn’t have it any other way.
This time, Overcooked 2 has some slightly better production values. The menus have been completely refined and the overall colours used are more vivid. Overcooked 2 definitely looks much better in HD than its predecessor. In reality, Overcooked 2 at first feels like an expansion of its predecessor. There are some new food items on the menu (e.g. sushi), but if you remember the cooking mechanics for pizzas, burgers and burritos, you will feel right at home. Just remember that some of those dishes are now more complicated. As an example, you now have to add cheese to some of your burgers! Despite feeling like an expansion at first, I soon realised that there is a lot more to the game than meets the eye. To start, the campaign is just as long, and if anything, perhaps slightly longer as there are now secret missions run by Kevin that prove to be a bit more challenging.
Gameplay-wise, one of the newest and biggest challenges is the ability to throw raw food. You can’t throw cooked food or plates. A lot of the new kitchens have been designed so that food needs to be thrown back and forth in order to complete the orders. This new challenge adds an additional layer of mayhem, especially when you’re throwing across rafts or hot air balloons! This technique becomes increasingly important to master if like me, you want to obtain three stars. By aiming your throw correctly, you can actually land the food exactly where it needs to be. You can even play catch with the food. Throwing is also very useful when playing alone, as you can save time by having one chef only around the cooking or chopping meat station.
Throwing is not a substitute for running around like a headless chicken. Especially because in many kitchens, they are dynamically changing, so unless you have excellent aim and know the kitchen well enough, you’d probably prefer running around. Most of the time, you will still be doing that whilst getting in each other’s way. After all, that’s the fun (and stressful) part of Overcooked, and that element still remains true in the sequel. Food can still catch fire if you don’t take it off the stove in time, and items around the kitchen will begin to also catch fire if you don’t put it out.
Unless you only care about progressing to the next level, you’ll probably end up playing through each level multiple times as the game gets harder. You end up spending the first few attempts just identifying the best strategy to get the stars, before finally attempting to beat the required score. This process is even more difficult in Overcooked 2 because in many cases, kitchens will just completely change half way through. As an example, there is a level where you are in a hot air balloon that is randomly spitting out fire. When you finally think you have mastered that, the whole balloon explodes and you crash land into an entirely different kitchen that has a completely different layout and even new food on the menu! There is no doubt that the kitchens in Overcooked 2 are a lot more enjoyable and creative than its predecessor.
Introduced are also new elements to a kitchen to make your cooking task even trickier. As an example, there are conveyor belts that will try to push you into the opposite direction, forcing you to have to bash the sprint button to get through them. There are also moving portals that you need to go through in order to enter other parks of the kitchen. If the first Overcooked was all about your skills at cooking food as fast as possible, Overcooked 2 really tests your ability to use the space available to you as best as possible. Visually, all of these new elements are brilliant and are a reminder of why this is a true sequel, rather than just an expansion pack.
Cooking techniques have also changed for some of the dishes. There are a lot more seafood-based dishes, and the developers have also introduced a mixer and steamer. Therefore, it takes longer to actually complete an order in many cases. More often than not, levels that are easy are the ones where you can get orders out of the door quickly. However, with the new changes, some orders take a lot longer to fulfil, and therefore when the tickets start piling up, the challenge becomes messy. Having to manage the tickets and maintain focus on just getting the first sets out is harder said than done. I lost count of the number of times I accidentally blended two bags of flour rather than one flour and one meat. Naturally, my other half would shout at me.
Things get the most messy and hilarious when there are scenarios where multiple dishes are on the menu, all of which share similar ingredients. As an example, you can be serving salads and burgers. Both of them may require lettuce and tomatoes. Fighting over the ingredients and keeping track of which dish actually needs those is insanely stressful and chaotic. The creators have thought of every trick to confuse the gamers, and it has worked beautifully. Initially, my partner and I decided that it would be a good strategy to have loads of ingredients out and pre-prepared. However, a messy kitchen only results in more confusion. Maintaining order is the best way to maintain your sanity in this game.
There are approximately 50 stages in the game. You can also play with four chefs and depending on the number of chefs, the targets for one, two and three stars change. Some of the kitchens are designed to maximize the four-player co-op, however most of them work perfectly well with two players. I think the game is still best enjoyed with two players, and going online to compete in 2v2 is where things really get heated. I am not joking when I say that Overcooked 2 has what it takes to become an incredibly fun eSports game!
The addition of online gameplay allows you to participate in kitchen-activities with another friend, although I believe that Overcooked 2 will mostly appeal to people who want to play locally with a friend/family member on the couch. However, the introduction of online play is extremely important because gamers should not be limited to local co-op in order to enjoy Overcooked. This is a game that I would recommend to every single gamer, and online play just allows friends to enjoy it together in more ways. I do wish that the developers took an approach similar to ‘A Way Out’ and allow two people to play it online as long as only one owns the game.
I didn’t think that the developers could top what they achieved with Overcooked, but they have in literally every department. Restarting levels now has a loading bar which the previous game didn’t, but the load times are very short. Apart from that, the visuals are better, the challenges are more exciting, the menu is more expansive and most importantly, the chaos is even more manic. Due to this, Overcooked 2 will be one my most memorable games of 2018.