The first Overcooked was a relatively well-received couch co-op game and was even nominated for some awards, but even so, it was clear that there was room for improvement. Enter Overcooked 2, a sequel that offers a more polished and comprehensive experience that successfully builds on what the original game brought to the table.
Overcooked 2 offers the same basic gameplay formula as the first game, tasking players with working cooperatively with their friends as they attempt to cook a variety of dishes within the time limit. There are more dishes for players to prepare this time around, and some new cooking styles. For example, there are now dishes that first need to be prepared in a mixer before they're cooked on a skillet or steamed, and there are also a lot of rice-based foods that require players to boil rice as they prepare the other ingredients.
By giving players more types of food to make, Overcooked 2 has the immediate benefit of having more variety than its predecessor. The original game featured a lot of levels that consisted of little more than players making onion and tomato soup, so this added variety helps to keep the game more interesting and fun to play from one minute to the next. It also adds extra challenge to the experience, which will be appreciated by anyone who felt the first game was a little on the easy side.
Sometimes Overcooked 2 is challenging for the wrong reasons, though. While we appreciate the addition of things like mixers, sometimes the ingredients in the mixing bowls clog up the screen and make it difficult to see what may be sitting on the counter next to them. Other times hazards in the environment, like fires that will start randomly around the kitchen, can trap players and force them to have to sit and wait until they pass.
Overcooked 2 is best when players get a rhythm going and are successfully working together to get the dishes out as quickly as possible. Having to stop playing completely because of fire or an environmental shift is frustrating and breaks the flow of the game. Luckily this doesn't happen too often, but the levels where this occurs will not be looked back at fondly.
That's not to say gimmicks like the fire are a bad idea, it just becomes annoying when players have no way of dealing with the obstacle. There are other new gimmicks introduced in Overcooked 2 that up the challenge without leaving players with no way of continuing their work, like stairs that shift around the room and platforms that players have to move with a lever to reach different parts of the kitchen.
Overcooked 2 doesn't just add new kitchen hazards to the experience; the game also adds some new cooking skills, like the ability to throw ingredients, which radically changes the way players will approach some kitchens for the better. By being able to toss ingredients to friends or even throw them directly into skillets and cooking pots, players can keep a fast pace in the kitchen, in turn allowing for more exciting gameplay overall. Throwing ingredients is a really smart addition to the Overcooked formula, and its absence in the original makes it hard to go back and play it.
Overcooked 2 is an improvement over the original game in other ways as well. It's simply more polished, with sharper visuals, less technical issues (though there were a couple of games where it simply would not let us put ingredients where they needed to go), and more content. One big way that the sequel is better than the original is the addition of online multiplayer, and while it is sometimes hard to get into a match, we found that the online worked perfectly when actually in a game. Unfortunately, the nature of Overcooked means that players will likely run into griefers in Overcooked 2's online mode a lot more than they would in other games, but the online functionality is still appreciated.
Even with online play, some may not be completely satisfied with Overcooked 2, and that's because even though there is more content than the original, it's still a little on the light side. Not only were we able to beat all of the levels in Overcooked 2 in less than five hours, but we were also able to get all three stars on them, on top of completing all of the secret levels. The online multiplayer does give the game a bit more replay value than it would have otherwise, but one's enjoyment of that is largely going to depend on who they're playing with.
Overcooked 2 is better than the first game, but yet again, there is room for improvement. Ghost Town Games is still trying to nail the recipe for the perfect local co-op party game, and perhaps it will succeed if it delivers a third title with more levels that drops some of the more frustrating elements and irons out the lingering technical issues.
Overcooked 2 is available now for PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One. Game Rant reviewed the game on Xbox One.