It’s easy to get a bit Oliver Twist about a game that we’re enjoying. “Please sir, I want some more,” fans will cheekily demand through Twitter, Reddit and on game forums. Certainly it can sometimes feel like we’re starving for more game to enjoy, but thankfully it’s not just another bowl of gruel that we’re after, but a veritable feast of fun. That’s certainly true of Overcooked and its calamitous co-op cook ’em up capers, and Overcooked 2 is very much more of the same, but with a few new twists.
On the surface, Overcooked is a simple game. As orders come in you need to prepare the ingredients, cook and combine them together on a plate, and then serve them up. With more chefs in the kitchen, it should be even easier, as more hands can tackle more jobs more quickly. The reality is that it all descends into unbridled chaos in the span of about 15 seconds.
A big part of that comes from the level design. Just as in the first game, there’s always something in motion, and that’s been amped up even further for the sequel. There’s conveyor belts of ingredients, there’s stairs that come and go, there’s even controllable platforms and portals to step through that magically transfer you to another part of the kitchen. Adding to the chaotic frenzy, a couple of the maps I played also featured central pits that occasionally spat our random globs of fire and almost forced us to have one player permanently manning a fire extinguisher.
The game this time takes you to even more weird and wonderful locales, from a wizard’s school – hence magic portals and stairs – to planets in outer space. The game world is laid out in much the same way as before, as you drive a little camper van across a cute little map and head to each challenge, where you’ll still try to get a high enough score to warrant a three star rating.
A sprinkling of new gameplay ingredients have been added to the gameplay, based off how people played the first game. Throwing is now an official mechanic, so you can toss ingredients across the kitchen, even landing them straight in the pan or blender. There’s also an added incentive to take on the dishes in the order that they’re listed at the top of the screen, with a bonus to your score for doing so. Whether intentional or not (or simply me playing with people who are much better at the game), it feels like getting a nice and high score maybe isn’t quite as tricky as it was at times in the first game. We’ll find out for sure as we review the game…
Of course, there’s new recipes to take on, and one of the Kevin levels requiring that we steam up some bao buns for the demanding little dog. You’ll be chucking flour and a variety of filling into a mixer, then transferring it to a steamer and finally serving it up. Also new on the menu are things like sushi, pancakes and cakes.
While the game is going to be by far and away best when played locally with four friends loosely pulling in the same direction, Overcooked 2 mercifully adds in online play. It’s something that was quite obviously missing from the first game, and while we didn’t get the chance to try it out for this preview, it’s now an option.
What we did get to try out was the game on Nintendo Switch, and I came away very impressed with how well it’s now been optimised for the system. The first game’s port to the console was playable, but suffered from a stuttering frame rate at launch, requiring Ghost Town and Team17 to patch it a couple times to iron out the kinks. From what we saw of the sequel on Switch, there’s no kinks to start with and it plays smoothly even with four chefs dashing around and causing a maximum amount of chaos.
Yes, Overcooked 2 is going to boil down to being a second serving of the same multiplayer mayhem, but Ghost Town Games have definitely improved the recipe. Subtle tweaks to the gameplay join major features like online play, meaning this culinary co-op chaos is looking very tasty ahead of its launch on 7th August.