Team17’s Overcooked 2 brings back their couch multiplayer hit for another round. It’s out for Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch – we got together with a bunch of Dualshocks and played the Playstation version.
These days, the “multiplayer” genre tends to gravitate towards the online realm, with the likes of Fortnite, countless MMOs and Call of Duty leading the charge. Great news for Epic, Blizzard and Activision, but for me multiplayer started with two-person arcade games and later on with a pair of joysticks (and later gamepads) at home – to this day, nothing beats local multiplayer in terms of fun, at least for me.
I didn’t get a PS4 until about two years ago, and noticed the lack of local multiplayer games. When I did a quick google search for recommendations, one game kept coming up: Overcooked. I got it, I loved it, and I was very happy when Team17 and Ghost Town Games announced their intention of making a sequel.
Overcooked’s brilliant cooperative formula was so well executed that it’s a blessing and a curse at the same time. Not too much has changed on a base level – nor should it, it you’d love what makes the game great. This is what had made the Bomberman series endure for so long, so it’s no surprise they didn’t deviate too much from the original game with the sequel. There are, however, plenty of new elements and subtle tweaks both on and under the surface.
Many of the kitchens you work in are larger than those in the original game – which gives you more challenges and options in getting things done and in how you work together. It also means a change of perspective – literally. The view is a bit more zoomed out this time around, to allow for the entire playing field to remain in view despite the larger kitchen. This is a logical consequence of going for larger levels, but it also means things can be a little harder to see – especially on a smaller tv or when you’re sitting at a greater distance.
It’s not all about size though, as different in-level elements also mix up the proceedings. You can even use Portal-like teleporters this time around, and the level layout can shift dramatically in the middle of a level. It actually reminded me a little of how fighting games these days have multi-layered arenas as well, but the mid-level changes in Overcooked 2 actually mean you’ll have to change your gameplay approach halfway through.
A time management game at its core as well, Overcooked is all about getting orders done in time – and thus about saving time. Working well together is crucial in that regard, and Overcooked 2 adds the element of being able to toss food to one another to save an extra second here and there. It’s fun (even when it goes wrong), it’s chaotic (even when it works out), and it takes some getting used to.
Overcooked 2 also adds a few new food types to the menu, which complicates your order processing a little, but the central theme remains good communication and cooperation. To me, this works better when in the same room and shouting at the same screen, but for the sequel Team17 has also made sure that online multiplayer was implemented (for both arcade and versus modes). Online works with a group of buddies, but you can also use the game’s matchmaking feature to play with strangers.
Playing the new sequel made me remember exactly why I was so fond of the first game, and how I kept going back to Bomberman with every new iteration. Overcooked 2 doesn’t drastically change the formula that the first game introduced, but expands on it by capturing its essence and adding a few new bells and whistles. It could have been called Overcooked 1.5 to signify that it’s pretty close to the first game, but that wouldn’t have made me recommend it any less.