Back for Second Helpings
A scourge has spread across the land, and the Onion King has been reading from the Necro-Nom-Nom-icon, and accidentally summoned “The UnBread”… If that all sounds a bit mad, you’ve clearly never played the original Overcooked. There’s a difficult thing when it comes to Overcooked 2: Overcookeds, in that essentially, it’s a full game that, for the most part, could have potentially been DLC for the first game. However, that doesn’t make it a bad thing in any way. In fact, Overcooked 2: Cruise Control makes some pivotal changes, and almost all of them are for the best.
If you’ve never played the first game, then it’s quite straightforward. You’re in a kitchen with a couple of cute characters, and you’ve got to frantically cook a bunch of recipes before the time limit runs out. Recipes and orders get increasingly more complex as the game goes on, as do the layouts of the kitchens, which often end up being split down the middle, or have worktops moving around the place as well. It’s a game that’s best played in multiplayer, and thankfully, Overcooked 2: Overcooked Harder allows you to do this online for the first time.
The issue with Overcooked 2: Pig in the City, is that playing it solo is incredibly difficult. When you’re playing it with others locally, it’s an absolute riot, with orders being barked at each other and roles understood almost subliminally. The arguments that can stem from the game are numerous, and there is something slightly wonderful about screaming “GET ME THAT BLOODY RICE!” at your mate from across your living room, and that’s lost a little bit when you’re doing it on your own. They’ve tried to alleviate this somewhat by bringing in a new mechanic, giving you two playable characters when you’re playing solo, and you can switch between them with a quick tap of the L1 button. It’s a great mechanic that does help the chaos a little bit, but it does feel incredibly overwhelming and quite anxiety-inducing when you’re having to figure out several things at once. The story is as bonkers as you’d expect, with the UnBread being a key part of it, and things degenerating into pure silliness the more you plough through the expansive world map.
The next new mechanic is one that has immediately made people immediately go “Thaaaaaank you!!!” – you can now throw ingredients! Be it raw or prepped, you can now launch the ingredients across the kitchen to your partner to slap down in the pan and get them fried up. It’s a small touch that could cut down on a few crucial seconds before a round is up. Also new is the arcade mode – a great way to just jump in quickly to a random level from any point in the game, regardless of whether you’ve finished it up or not. This is a fantastic addition, and one that immediately chucks you in at the deep end with a bunch of advanced recipes if you select one of the later stages, which will only lead to even more arguments!
So then, the multiplayer. As mentioned above, there is something gloriously chaotic about a 4 player session in Overcooked 2: The Sequel, just as there was in the first game. It’s a test of patience, friendship and, in some cases, relationships. I daren’t start playing this with my wife, because I know that within 20 minutes, we’ll have called each other every name under the sun and our neighbours would have probably called in a domestic situation. This game is probably the best party game that I’ve ever played, without a shadow of a doubt. The online multiplayer works extremely well, just be prepared to get more than your average volley of abuse that would make Gordon Ramsay blush if you so much as put a sliver of lettuce out of line. Of course, if you don’t want to play online (or, if you’re playing on Switch where that requires more cables than a BT Openreach box) then you can always use one of the new emotes to communicate with each other. It’s a little bit fiddly at first, but you soon become accustomed to holding down the Triangle button and whipping round to a handy “I’m Washing Up!” emote to get your point across effectively.
A game that will have you swearing at your grandma, and threatening violence upon your closest friends after half an hour, Overcooked 2 is one of the best party games that you can get your hands on, and it’s easily the most fun I’ve had with a multiplayer game in years. The single player can sometimes get a bit overwhelming (please don’t play this if you have anxiety!) but with 4 people playing side by side or, for the first time, over the internet, it’s an excellent title that will have you in stitches of laughter while cursing your head off. A worthy purchase, even if you’ve played the original to death.