Available On: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch
It’s not uncommon to shout “just sautée the damn mushrooms already!” at your family members when playing Overcooked 2. The delightfully chaotic cooking simulator returns with more cooperative mayhem as players quickly work together to fulfill culinary orders while avoiding kitchen hazards.
The sequel offers a few new features but ultimately the same experience. Thankfully it’s still a winning recipe.
Just Enough Cooks
In case you missed the 2016 original, Overcooked 2 is an arcade-like cooking game designed for local cooperative multiplayer. Up to four players put their culinary skills to the test using only three buttons: Grabbing, Chopping, and Dashing. It’s easy and intuitive to jump in and get cooking, but actually doing well will take practice, planning, and coordination.
Ingredients and recipes are listed in the corner as orders fly in. A salad needs chopped lettuce and tomato, while a pizza will require dough, cheese, tomato, and a meat or veggie (all of which must be chopped) then put into an oven.
All orders must be put on a plate and turned in, and in most levels plates return dirty and must be washed, adding an additional task to plan for. Levels last only a few minutes, keeping the action fast and fun.
A small but significant new ability in the sequel is throwing ingredients, either on the floor or to the other players (or your second cook if playing solo). Throwing can be frustratingly imprecise, but it does open up the level designs to be a bit crazier, like putting both cooks on separate rafts floating down a river, with different stations and ingredients on each raft.
Veteran cooks are adept at tossing chopped ingredients directly into pots and pans to start cooking faster. Mastering the throw is a major part of the strategy, and also adds to the chaotic fun when an errant cheese knocks a cook off the edge of the hot air balloon kitchen.
Overcooked 2 includes three gameplay modes: Story, Arcade, and Versus. The story pits our Onion Kingdom cooks against the dreaded Unbread, which is simply an excuse to cook your way through six progressively challenging worlds of six levels each.
The overworld map is cute and functional but feels like wasted potential. There are some switches you’ll need to hit to activate ramps but it never encourages exploration or provides hidden goodies.
It’s a meatier campaign with a fine-tuned difficulty curve that features a large variety of kitchen hazards and challenges, from rotating counters to disappearing stairs, constant fires, submerging platforms, and moving portals. A few of the levels transform entirely, like the aforementioned hot air balloon crashing into the ground into an entirely different kitchen. I would have liked to see more of these dynamic kitchens and new hazards, but the story still provides a solid four or five hours of fun.
Arcade lets you play single kitchens in quick matches with up to four players in both local and online multiplayer. Versus pits you against each other, which never feels quite as fun as the original co-op. Overcooked feels nicely balanced for two, while playing with three or four is more for a funny party atmosphere filled with flying food.
Overcooked 2 is rated E for Everyone, and perfectly suitable for kids of all ages. Due to the short timer and complexity of later levels, parents might get quite frustrated with younger players!
Declaring Overcooked 2 as more of the same isn’t a bad thing – it’s a testament to how clever the original game was. The addition of online multiplayer will be very welcoming for some, but the series is still best enjoyed as a local couch co-op experience. With intuitive controls and a delightfully cheery atmosphere, Overcooked 2 is easily one of the best family-friendly co-op games around.