Overcooked 2 - Critique
I am happy to report that the time spent with my wife in the chaotic but always fun kitchens of Overcooked 2 did not end with a divorce. In fact, it was super fun!
Overcooked 2 , the continuation of one of my favorite indie games of 2016, takes up the recipe of its predecessor: a team of chefs must cut, cook, dress on a plate and serve food to the invaders in order to save the Onion Kingdom - this time, it's an army of zombie sliced bread. This sequence does not radically change the formula of the first part. It is always a question of picking up and playing with food, a gameplay in which my wife is invested without problem, she who is however not a great player. But there are still some interesting variables, thanks to which - in addition to new inventive cuisines, varied recipes and new online features - Overcooked 2 turns out to be an entertaining party game and above all much more demanding than the first episode.
One of the main new features in Overcooked 2 is the Launch function, which is a real game- changer . Food can now be tossed directly onto stoves, cutting boards, or into the hands of teammates, helping to limit the annoying back and forth from the first game. For example, in the case of a pasta recipe, I started by throwing two portions of pasta into the saucepans, freeing my hands to immediately prepare the next ingredient. This function brings a new welcome strategic dimension, and it quickly proves to be essential to save time and more easily fulfill orders.
Throwing food also makes solo play much more enjoyable. As in the first episode, playing alone means having to constantly switch between two chefs to assign to one different tasks like cutting meat and vegetables, while controlling the movements of the other. Even if it remains as unintuitive as in the original game, the Launch function makes the skin in the idle time, which allows the solo experience to be closer to that in coop. It's funnier to play with friends, but now solo play seems a bit more natural.
Rest assured: you have not finished running all over the place as if you were on fire (moreover, sometimes, you will literally catch fire). Since only raw food can be launched, the final preparations of the dish always require crossing the kitchens long and wide. Adding the Launch function does not mean that cooking good meals is easier. It is not that simple. The kitchens of Overcooked 2 have many moving platforms which, without the possibility of throwing food, would have made navigation in certain environments difficult. But even with this ability, these playgrounds are trying.
Indeed, if you already find the kitchens of the first Overcooked crooked, those of its suite are even crazier. Between the moving platforms, the trays of food that wander, the random fires, the windstorms, the treadmills, and the pieces of kitchen that disappear without warning, there is a lot to manage, including for most strategic players. It is in this type of unexpected event that Overcooked drew its fun side. It is nice to see this concept extended in its suite, and in lots of interesting ways that make each part unpredictable - even for those who consider themselves expert chefs.
The moving aisles alternate turn to push you in the opposite direction where you want to go or, on the contrary get you there faster. Some of these aisles are sometimes even suspended above a void, which makes crossing the kitchens even more stressful. You can also use magic portals to reach or send your ingredients to areas inaccessible on foot. Sometimes these gates move around so you need to identify the perfect time to cross them smoothly - in which case, a painful fall will await you on the other side. Some platforms also require careful checking with a stick, for example to collect food, move it to the cutting boards and cook it. Clearly, the new level-design of the game really puts your dexterity to the test, so much so that some kitchens give the impression of being escaped from a platform game.
Among the large selection of cuisines available, there are hot air balloons, mines, a wizarding school, a rafting boat and other familiar maps such as kitchens covered with lava (damage, frozen kitchens, with slippery floors, are not this time more of the game). All kitchens benefit from expert modeling that is conducive to challenge. Each round is crazy from start to finish, until the grand finale, which takes the form of a 15-minute marathon during which the game tests everything you learned during your previous games. You are not about to blow.
Speaking of putting yourself to the test, Overcooked 2 includes nine recipes to master, including several new ones. In certain levels, an additional task is intertwined between cutting and cooking: mixing. Some recipes, such as pancakes, cakes or steamed meats / vegetables, first require mixing the ingredients with eggs and flour in a blender. And after mixing, you need to place the ingredients on the correct baking sheet (the frying pan or the steam oven). Juggling new equipment and different tasks increases the difficulty of the game and brings tension. This gives rise to bazaar scenes, punctuated by blunders as unlucky as they are fun.
Another thing that is important to keep an eye on, some dishes can be served cooked or raw, such as fish or tomatoes. So you have to keep a certain sense of detail. Salads are more flowery with the addition of cucumbers, and cheese can now be added to burgers. The soups were dropped, not surprisingly since they were boring to prepare in the first episode.
If you happen to prepare the same dish several times in succession, the long list of ingredients allows the preparations to be less repetitive than in the original game. More than once, we - my wife and I - realized that we had added cheese instead of tomato in a burger, or even placed a cucumber in a burrito while its place was in reality in the next salad. Nothing serious, you will tell us. Except that the slightest error can lead to a succession of failed orders, the appearance of destructive fires and more generally create disorder. These kinds of growing disasters are legion. But that is part of the charm of Overcooked 2 .
Sometimes the quantity of objects on the screen can quickly confuse you. If your work table is filled with ingredients, picking the right one can become a complicated task. The feeling of depth is also quite problematic, as you will realize that it is easier to pick up the object that is next to the one that you really wanted to pick up. Fortunately, a novelty makes it possible to get around this slight concern. I actually appreciated being able to place my food on the stack of freshly washed plates. Not being forced to place a plate on the work table to place food on it - as in the first section - makes it easier to free up space and thus keep your kitchen tidier.
Like its predecessor, the forty levels of Overcooked 2 can all be played with up to four heads. And the convoluted design of kitchens requires mastery of teamwork. Some levels are also specially designed for the game with three or four players. For example, a rafting level revolves around a moving platform in the center, where the ingredients are located, and stationary platforms on the sides where all the kitchen utensils are placed. Placing one or two players on the central platform to launch the ingredients therefore clearly makes sense.
In my opinion, Overcoooked 2 strikes the right balance between strategy and disorder in two-player games. You have enough work space to stick to your plan of attack, and when things get tough, communicating with a single teammate makes getting back on track easier. In solo games, however, success depends only on your own talents, which is both rewarding and intimidating. But between the moving platforms and the new Lancer function, Overcooked 2 truly reveals its full potential when three or four chefs try to work together.
After 10 hours of play, I still have to unlock the three stars of a handful of levels, and a few chefs to recover from the 25 available. In addition to saving the Onion Kingdom from the terrible army of zombie sliced bread, you can replay certain levels in Arcade mode, or test your skills in Versus mode. The kitchens of the Versus mode are laid out in the same way as the country kitchens, but they take much more advantage of the growing chaos. During a particularly chaotic meeting, I accidentally offered all my points to my wife because I did not realize that the order counters were changing places.
Otherwise, all modes can be played online with friends. As for the arcade and versus modes, a Matchmaking function is in the game. If Overcooked 2 shines above all locally, during cooperative games played at the bottom of its sofa, it is really cool to also be able to play online when you have no friends at hand. But beware: the Switch version does not have voice chat. Instead, you should use a fairly crude emote system to explain to the other chefs what to do. This is clearly not the ideal medium, especially in a title where communication is imperative to finish victorious. So if you're going to be playing mostly online, you should instead turn to the PS4, Xbox One, or PC versions of the game.