After becoming one of the great modern champions of multiplayer co-op gaming in 2016, Overcooked is back with more kitchen carnage – and most importantly, more of canine mascot Kevin – than ever before.
As with the original, the minor plot is more a framing device than anything – the simple-minded Onion King has brought disaster on his kingdom by accidentally summoning a horde of ravenous Unbread, after dabbling with that most fiendish of cookbooks, the Necro-nomnom-icon. Kevin warned against it. Cue you, as the best chef in the kingdom (or at least the closest to hand) to keep the doughy zombies at bay by whipping up an endless array of food while travelling around to undo the curse.
Gameplay is broadly the same as the original, but pleasantly refined. As before, you’ll have a steady flow of orders flying in along the top of the screen, with recipes you’ll need to prepare by chopping, baking, frying, or otherwise preparing ingredients, then combining into delicious dishes to serve to customers. The difficulty modulates based on number of players, with solo players switching between a pair of chefs to keep orders moving, and multiplayer scaling up to four players scrambling to get the food out.
Overcooked 2’s multiplayer shines brightest on the Nintendo Switch.
The simplest change has one of the biggest impacts on how Overcooked 2 handles compared to its predecessor, and that’s the addition of the ability to throw ingredients around. In earlier stages, this is more of a gimmick – and if you tap the wrong button, more of a hinderance, as you scramble to pick items back up – but as you progress through Overcooked 2’s increasingly fiendish levels, you’ll find the real challenge comes from expertly using this new mechanic to sling food between chefs or across otherwise impassable kitchen areas. An ingredient may only spawn in one part, but need to be prepared in another, forcing you to switch between chefs (if playing solo) or improve your teamwork to keep up with orders.
The level design is also a step up, with kitchens that are both hilariously unprofessional workspaces but also provide unique challenges. A multi-sectioned kitchen floating on hot air balloons is a particular favourite, while others present ever-shifting environmental hazards – such as a rotating mine cart track that opens and closes areas of the kitchen – keep you on your toes.
Overcooked 2’s multiplayer is great on all formats, but shines brightest on the Nintendo Switch. The two base Joy-Con controllers enable at least two player co-op wherever you go, and Ghost Town Games’ cute but chunky approach to character design pops, even when the Switch is in handheld mode. On all formats, there’s support for local or online multiplayer too, with either random or invited players taking part, and a dial of easily accessible emotes to aid visual communication. Playing together in person is the ideal scenario though, with the sheer chaos of the game’s maniac approach to haute cuisine making it a perfect party title. For the less collaboratively minded, Versus mode allows two teams to take part in a cook-off, though again the real pleasure comes from local play.
Other side dishes of Overcooked 2 – such as an Arcade Mode that remixes level themes and stages, or a cluster of new chefs to choose from – help round out a main course that will leave you wanting more. One of the best multiplayer games in years, and a cut above its already impressive precursor.