Team17 has just released , which pulls together the two Overcooked! games as well as all of the related DLC. By the same token, we’ve compiled this mega-review which covers all of the content. Enjoy!
Overcooked: Special Edition
Part of the draw and charm of the Nintendo Switch is the increased focus that it puts on local multiplayer. Nintendo has always been the king of that style of play, but the Switch takes this to a whole new level when you combine the portability factor with at least two controllers that are always ready to go. Though there are already plenty of games on the Switch eShop that take advantage of this multiplayer functionality, Overcooked: Special Edition is definitely one of the best uses of it that we’ve seen so far.
The premise is silly and unimportant, but it adds a good amount of charm to the overall tone. The game opens with asteroids raining from the sky and a city under assault, with your cooks watching the chaos with the Onion King from a kitchen on a roof. Not soon after, the source of the apocalypse — the mighty spaghetti monster — storms over to the cooks, and it’s quite hungry. Despite your best efforts at feeding the monster it simply isn’t enough to sate its ravenous appetite, so the Onion King opens a time portal that you escape into. The portal opens up in 1993 — several years before the coming of the spaghetti monster — and the Onion King tasks you with travelling the land so that you can be ready when the apocalypse comes. Aside from occasional visits to the Onion King, the story mostly takes a backseat from that point on, but it nonetheless does a good job of setting up the “why” as you find yourself in increasingly more ridiculous kitchens and scenarios.
Gameplay is extremely frantic and stressful — in many ways emulating the real experience of working in an understaffed kitchen — yet it’s some of the most fun couch co-op we’ve experienced in quite some time. Each stage will see you working to output as many orders as possible under a set time period, making everything from soups to pizza. Each kitchen’s layout is different and there’s a process to producing things. For example, in order to produce an order of tomato soup you have to run over to the tomato box, then run over to a board to cut up the tomatoes, then run over to a pot to cook them in, then put it in a plate and run it out to the window.
That would be enough as is, but the difficulty comes from how limited your abilities are. You can only be carrying one item at a time, and you can’t move around everything in the kitchen to expedite things. Sometimes the cutting boards might be in one room and you have to walk through a portal or cross a river to get to the fryers. Sometimes there are only three plates to work with in total, so someone will have to keep doing the dishes to keep up with the orders. You only have so much control over how efficiently each kitchen can be run, and many of them are often intentionally made to be as frustrating as possible.
The game is completely playable in single-player — difficulty is turned down greatly and you can switch between cooks at the tap of a button — but the real fun comes when playing with others around you. Whether playing with full controllers or taking a Joy-Con each, the controls are simple to pick up and easy to use. Kitchens are often designed in asymmetric ways, and so your success or failure will almost entirely depend on how effectively you can communicate with your friends. As the orders keep rushing in you’ll have to be constantly asking each other to pass ingredients, or to pull out the pizza before it catches on fire, and it doesn’t take long until everyone in the room is shouting demands and curses at each other as you all barely manage to keep your heads above the never-ending demand. Even so, the goofy visuals and chaotic nature of the gameplay lend themselves to plenty of laughter, as you sometimes fail spectacularly.
It’s that dynamic kind of gameplay that proves to be this game’s biggest draw. No two stages are exactly alike, and the gimmicks grow increasingly more ridiculous as you progress deeper into the game. Even so, the orders that come in for each stage are randomly generated each time, so replaying the same stage multiple times can still lead to vastly different experiences. There’s a great deal of satisfaction, too, to be found in finally mastering a stage by figuring out the most effective method for getting past certain bottlenecks in the process. Each kitchen will give you up to three stars based on how many orders you made, how quickly you got them out, and whether or not you failed to get any out on time, and that coveted third star can be heinously difficult to achieve in some stages.
As for presentation, there’s something left to be desired on the performance side, but the visuals and audio are spot on. The colourful visuals have a cartoony, silly look, and the game sticks to a lighthearted atmosphere; you can be rushing around the kitchen as a small dragon or a raccoon in a wheelchair, if you wish. The soundtrack can get a bit repetitive at times, but it keeps to high tempo tracks filled with accordions and guitars to match the quick pace of gameplay. HD Rumble is utilised here, too, and is especially helpful in single-player for keeping you aware of when the other cook is done chopping something up, but it otherwise isn’t a very notable or impactful part of the game.
In terms of replayability, there’s plenty of meat here for you to sink your teeth in. The main campaign has dozens of stages, which will take quite some effort to achieve three stars in. Beyond that, however, Overcooked: Special Edition also includes two DLC expansions that came to earlier versions, and these nicely build on the initial game and offer plenty of innovations and stage gimmicks of their own. Suffice to say, it’ll certainly take you a while to see everything Overcooked has to offer.
Overcooked 2: Gourmet Edition Review
After nearly two years of regular post-launch support, it seems that Team17 and Ghost Town Games are finally ‘finished’ with Overcooked 2. The developers have provided some excellent additions in the time since launch, and all of it is now being tied together with the aptly named Overcooked 2: Gourmet Edition. For the purposes of this bonus DLC review, we’ll be focusing more on the content introduced in the expansions; if you‘d like to know more about the core game, feel free to read our full review of it here.
In addition to the full experience of the base game, Overcooked 2: Gourmet Edition also includes a few themed mini-campaigns that were added, alongside a slew of new cooks that you can play as across any of the content. One thing we’d like to highlight right away is that all these expansions taken together provide a substantial amount of extra content. Viewing it from purely a quantity standpoint, the DLC content actually doubles the length of the base game, and it introduces several new and cool gameplay mechanics, too. In many ways, one could even view all this extra content as a soft-sequel. It’s all built upon the foundation of Overcooked 2, but the new mechanics that are explored elevate the content higher than ‘just’ themed level packs.
We’ll start this off by delving into the three expansions offered by the season pass, the first of which is called Campfire Cook-Off. Here, the cooks trade in their chef hats for much more functional baseball caps and take their kitchen skills into the backcountry, where campfire s’mores reign king. The deep woods aesthetic presented here looks great, and it’s punctuated by small details like how the knives you chop food up with are replaced by axes. These axes are actually tied to a bigger game mechanic, too, as you must periodically chop up wood to place on the fire so you can keep cooking with it. Additionally, some levels feature-heavy backpacks that must be worn at all times by your cooks, each of which contains an essential ingredient for the dish you’re making. Together, these two mechanics sufficiently add some interesting wrinkles to the standard gameplay, as you must now be vigilant of various cooking temperatures and have to basically chase after ingredients.
The next expansion is called Night of the Hangry Horde, and it trades in the rustic locales of the last expansion in favour of much spookier, horror-themed kitchens. Most notably, this DLC introduces a brand new horde mode that introduces light survival horror elements to the standard arcade action. Here, instead of just having one delivery window, there are now three or four, and they are each regularly bombarded by the ravenous Unbread. While the Unbread zombies wait for you to finish their orders, they’ll attack the boards nailed over their window, and you’ll have to regularly spend the money you make from orders to keep nailing new boards in place lest the zombies come in and lower your castle’s health bar. Additionally, Night of the Hangry Horde introduces a couple of other new game mechanics in its main levels, wherein you must regularly shovel coal into a furnace to keep the ovens going and the chopping boards have been replaced by a guillotine that instantly cuts whatever food you place beneath it. The new game mechanics and game mode introduced here make Night of the Hangry Horde the best of the expansions, exemplifying everything that one could ask for out of a DLC expansion.
The final DLC in the season pass is Carnival of Chaos, which sees our cooks showing off their prowess underneath the Big Top. Compared to the previous two expansions, this one feels a little more rote in its execution, but it still introduces some cool mechanics to make life hell for you. The most notable of these is a cannon that can fire cooks across the map. It requires at least two cooks to use – one to climb in, and the other to fire the button – and occasionally must be aimed properly to ensure the projectile cook reaches the correct destination. Additionally, Carnival of Chaos introduces the idea of combo meals to the mix, which often necessitates the usage of new condiment and beverage machines. Though Carnival of Chaos is missing a ‘wow’ factor here to really change up the way you approach your cooking, it still provides some sufficiently challenging levels to grapple with and is a joy to experience.
The next notable DLC is a standalone campaign of equal length called Surf ‘n’ Turf, which sees your cooks donning their swim trunks and providing service at a beachfront restaurant. Most notably, there’s usually no sink to wash dishes here; instead, your cooks must use a nearby water gun to both wash dishes and put out occasional fires. Additionally, fireplace bellows are often used to stoke the fires for making kebabs. You’d be surprised how much these seemingly innocuous tools can affect your performance, and the near-constant presence of water ensures that Surf ‘n’ Turf features some of the toughest level design in Overcooked 2.
Finally, there’s the Seasonal Update content, which was added for free to the base game for all players to enjoy. The first of these is a campaign centred around the Chinese New Year, and it most notably introduces another new game mode called ‘Survival’. Here, you add precious seconds to the clock with each successfully delivered order, and your goal is simply to make it as far as you can before failing. The other half of the seasonal content is called Winter Wonderland and sees your cooks making various Christmas themed desserts in freezing snowscapes. This content pulls together several ideas introduced in all the previous DLC’s, making it a sort of variety pack that keeps you guessing.
As For Everything Else…
This release would more than justify its high marks if it merely contained all the content of the previous two games, but Ghost Town and Team17 have gone a little further in cooking up some extra content for this already bountiful feast. Most notably, a new campaign of seven tough levels has been added in, each with a somewhat creepy vibe to them. There aren’t any new mechanics or ideas explored here, and the level layouts are relatively simple, but you’ll have to be at the top of your game to overcome the shifting environments and thieving rats which constantly impede your efforts. Ghost Town has already hinted at even more content coming later this year, too.
Additionally, there have been a range of quality of life improvements made to both games to make the experience that much tastier. The first Overcooked, for example, has now had all its environments updated to the more graphically impressive engine of the second game, and it’s also been given cross-platform online play to bring it in line with its follow up. Score thresholds over both games have overall been tweaked to make for a more consistently rising difficulty curve, and you can now trigger assist options to help you get past levels that are just too difficult. Increased (or completely absent) timers and more points per order are par for the course here, which gives less-skilled players a chance to join in on the fun and better hone their skills.