“Teamwork makes the dream work” is something I heard shouted at me over and over again during corporate retreats to make my previous company stop being a dismal money pit. The idea that, if people work together and combine their hearts and minds, anything is possible. Well, one bankruptcy filing later, there’s proof that this idea isn’t always enough to combat existing problems (and, apparently, years of embezzling). But working together with others, especially people you love and trust, is key to getting anywhere in life. And, if you want to enjoy the most out of Overcooked, you’re gonna want to work with someone that you trust.
Overcooked: Special Edition is the newest Switch port of a smash indie darling. You play a chef who, in the main story mode, must travel back in time and hone your cooking skills to perfection in order to defeat cosmic horrors and save the world from a disastrous future. Of course, you simply cannot cook alone! With the aid of your fellow chef, you must work out a tight, precise pattern of chopping, cooking and plating to keep customers satisfied and reach the high scores needed to prove that you have what it takes. Also, unlike most kitchens, you’ll find your setup often is laden with strange room setups, trap placements and tons of hazards that hardly make a trot through the kitchen a walk in the park.
The single player mode, I argue, is the weakest element to Overcooked. The story is funny and fantastic, don’t get me wrong, and there’s plenty to do, not to mention it’s really important to helping players get their bearings and understand the gameplay. However, the single player mode is a different game entirely from the multiplayer. For one, you always have two chefs, so you need to toggle between them in rapid succession to get the maximum amount of work done. This makes Overcooked feel like little more than a time management simulator, one of the worst genres of games out there. You frantically rush to the basket, grab a veggie, start chopping, then switch, grab another piece of food, chop, and then wait on tenterhooks to see who finishes first. Often times you’re quite frustrated that you can only move one at a time, because, the second another chef is done with their work, it’s PAINFUL to see them standing around gormlessly until you’ve finished with the first chef. Ever screamed at yourself in the kitchen? It’s like that, only on the Nintendo Switch.
Now, it’s not to say the single player mode is impossible, and you can get a great deal of enjoyment out of the storyline (not to mention the difficulty does ramp accordingly, so you’re not dead on your feet immediately). I love the graphics of the game, as the cute roundness of the chefs and the items gives a false sense of innocence to a game that is legitimately difficult. The boss battles were quite difficult, but there was a great sense of accomplishment being able to feed them to satisfaction and move onto the next world. I don’t know, however, if the DLC campaigns that have been added into Overcooked: Special Edition are meant to be played in single player mode at all. Yes, it’s possible to do, but you find your kitchen on fire almost IMMEDIATELY. I got about 30 seconds into the Festive Seasoning storyline by myself before quietly quitting and putting my Switch away, pretending that it had never happened in the first place.
Multiplayer is where Overcooked absolutely shines. Once a second player (or third or fourth) joins you in the fray, this game takes off and becomes a great line cook simulator. If you’re wise, someone will take the helm of being the foreman, yelling out instructions to everyone so they can focus on the tasks at hand. Even better, get a fifth player to do it so the other chefs don’t become enraged at the one guy who is spending more time yelling than doing. The difficulty increases quite a bit with every new chef added, but the madness adds to the enjoyment. Chefs will bump into each other as they scramble to get the right ingredients, accidentally add too many because of poor communication, or simply run about and flail when everything catches fire. This game should be played stone-cold sober, because you want better reaction time and reflexes playing Overcooked than even the most frightening horror game.
Currently, there’s a few complaints floating around the Switch community regarding bugs and poor controls in Overcooked: Definitive Edition. There are claims of “floating” when the chefs keep missing their mark or turning the wrong way. I personally didn’t experience any of those bugs, but I won’t pretend like I couldn’t easily see that happening. Overcooked is a game of precision and demand, one where a single wrong move can completely destroy the high score everyone is aiming for. I’m glad that the development team of Ghost Town Games has taken the complaints seriously and has submitted the patch to make things better, but players might be waiting a while in general. Don’t forget that the issues that NBA Playgrounds had at launch weren’t fixed for months, even with talk of the patch being in the works the whole time. Having said that, I don’t feel that Overcooked is broken at all, so don’t let the lack of patch dissuade you from getting it.
Overcooked: Definitive Edition is a hell of a game to have on the Switch. With the multiplayer focused on couch co-op, it’s the perfect title that can be brought anywhere you go and enjoyed with new and old players alike. There’s only three buttons to think of, and the replay value is exponentially higher with every chance to get a higher score. It may lead to friends yelling at each other and tension running high, but that happens in every good team. Don’t let the lack of online fool you, Overcooked wouldn’t be the same without being able to give your friends a death stare because they let the entree burst into flames. If you’ve always wanted to curse out a loved one for chopping an onion too slowly, it’s time to step into the Overcooked kitchen.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to [email protected].
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