Overcooked 2 (Switch) Review
Overcooked 2 is a significant improvement to the original Overcooked recipe in just about every way; more variety, more polish, and now with the oft-requested online multiplayer – albeit with lack of customisation leaving behind a slightly bitter aftertaste.
Jumping straight into the story, Overcooked 2 immediately showcases a higher level of quality than its delightful predecessor. Cutscenes are enhanced by more detailed character and environmental models, greater use of lighting and shading, plus more dynamic camera angles, making the latest culinary outing a feast for the eyes. Overcooked 2 sees your chefs catering once more to the whims of the Onion King and his canine companion, Kevin. The humanoid vegetable has unwittingly unleashed a scourge on his kingdom by practising dark arts from the Necro-nomnom-icon, and it’s up to you to save the kingdom from the horrific consequences.
Playing Overcooked 2 follows the same conventions as the original, with your cutesy chefs receiving orders at the top of the screen to plate up within a time limit. Each scenario is comprised of individually-themed levels, such as sushi food trucks, bizarre alien landscapes, and the veritably upper-class hot air balloon restaurants. Most stages will focus on a particular type of food, providing you with the ingredients and utensils required to produce the desired culinary product. Favourites like burritos and pizzas return from the original game, in addition to the various new foods requiring mixers, steamers, and other kitchen appliances to create your masterpieces – or the catalyst to setting your kitchen ablaze.
Arguably the most significant change to the Overcooked formula in 2 is the new ability to throw raw ingredients to your teammates. Several stages are designed purely with this in mind, requiring you to coordinate with your teammates on fractured restaurants separated by hazards, each requiring different ingredients and appliances to complete each dish. For those who have played Overcooked, you’ll know in theory how utterly hectic this will be. In practice, it’s twice as hectic as you could imagine. Trying to coordinate with teammates what ingredients need to go where and when is tough in the heat of the kitchen. It is all too easy to attempt to pass a chopped meat patty across the room to an unprepared teammate, only to see your finely prepared morsel miss the target and irretrievably dunk in the rubbish bin adjacent to the frypan. Moments like these add to the hilarity of the already fantastic Overcooked multiplayer experience. If you enter the Overcooked kitchen expecting a serene Jamie Oliver-like experience cooking gourmet food – think again. What you’ll get is more akin to a late-night Gordon Ramsay TV special, yelling and swearing at each other, inevitably ending with someone in tears calling themselves an idiot sandwich.
Primarily, Overcooked is known for its couch multiplayer shenanigans. With Overcooked 2, local multiplayer remains an integral component of the core experience, but now online allows for the connecting of couches and lounge rooms across the world. All game modes are fully playable with up to four players, as was the case with the previous game. However, these four players can now be local, online, or a mix of both. While this is a fantastic addition for allowing players to connect without being in the same room, it is not without its faults. When testing out Overcooked 2’s online functionality, I played a series of games alongside Vooks’ editor, Daniel. After connecting to his session, I was shown a message stating that only I would connect to the game and not my partner who was currently player two on my console. Despite the official Overcooked Twitter account confirming the only unsupported player configuration at launch is two and two on each console, neither Daniel or I could figure out why my player two was barred from joining in. We couldn’t see much in the way of customisation in the bare-bones lobby, so we persisted with just playing together.
The story mode is by far the best part of Overcooked 2, mainly because you have complete freedom over which levels you play. Arcade and competitive, the other two game modes, are frustrating in their complete lack of customisation. Instead of choosing individual stages, you can only vote for entirely random selection or a theme such as sushi or hot air balloon which picks a random stage from said theme. Annoyingly, this is only suited to players already familiar with each stage and the game’s recipes of varying levels of complexity. Throwing inexperienced players into late-game stages with little to no preparation is only going to overwhelm and demoralise them. Introducing new players to the hellfire kitchen of Overcooked is much better done when manually choosing levels in the story mode. Competitive is marginally better despite also suffering from the lack of stage selection, but only when playing with a full contingent of four players. This is because competitive sees four chefs divvied up into two teams, but if four players aren’t connected, the remaining players must manually switch between chefs for the multitasking components – a cumbersome endeavour. Overcooked 2 is at its best when chaos reigns supreme and the pace is frenetic, a trait competitive dulls when not inhabited by a full lobby. I also definitely recommend using voice chat via Discord or your preferred platform; Overcooked 2’s quick-chat options and emotes are fairly basic and lack nuance when communicating with teammates.
In light of these grievances, Overcooked 2 is a remarkable continuation of the charming fun the original game introduced to the world, with none of the performance issues the first Overcooked had on Switch at launch. Challenge seekers will get their fill from the increasingly dynamic kitchens and recipes Overcooked 2 features.
Depending on your number of players, stage 5-3 is an absolute doozy. The fresh coat of paint to the visuals extends to substance in addition to style; chefs feel more weighty and less floaty to control, encouraging you to dash around kitchens with added precision. Sonically, Overcooked 2 orchestrates a joyfully varied soundtrack, taking inspirations from the many cuisines and cultures the game pays tribute to throughout. Most importantly, the playable chef characters are adorable and I will love and cherish them forever.
Taking the inspired recipe from Overcooked and adding several pinches of improvements across the board, Overcooked 2 is a great game to play with others – despite an imperfect online lobby system and the lack of multiplayer customisation.
+ Fun, dynamic stages
+ Improved gameplay and visual elements add increased level of polish
+ Retains the charm from the original Overcooked
- Multiplayer lacks customisation or individual stage selection in arcade and competitive modes
- Basic online lobby system makes it difficult to configure players