If Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares has taught the world anything, it’s that working in a restaurant can soon descend into a maddening experience. Whether that be poor preparation, a cluttered line, or a clear lack of communication, many restaurants have called on the multi-Michelin starred chef to whip their kitchens into shape to turn their businesses around. But, there isn’t as much hope expressed for your chances in Overcooked: Special Edition.
In the not too distant future, the world faces the end of times. When The Onion King summons you to feed Ever Peckish, he soon realises that you aren’t experienced enough to deal with the spaghetti bolognese monster’s insatiable appetite. With everyone leaping into a time portal to escape, The Onion King laments that your cooking skills were lacking and that your co-operation was woeful, returning you to 1993 so that you can travel around the Onion Kingdom to master the ancient art of cooking.
Your road trip will take you to many different kitchens all across the kingdom, learning how to make soup before moving on to trickier recipes with extra ingredients that require more coordination and adept culinary skills. Beef burgers, fish and chips, and pizza, these dishes will be familiar enough to players of all ages making Overcooked: Special Edition accessible to near enough anyone that wants to wear chef’s whites.
While players will excitedly bark at one another as each order comes in to grab ingredients, chop them up, and then throw them in frying pans, there is the added challenge in that you will need to dish them up correctly, send them out to the restaurant, and wash the plate once it returns.
With a time limit ticking down and customers storming out the restaurant if you take too long with their order, that pressure is soon laughed off in reaction to the quirky kitchens that you work in. Whether that be skating around on ice, moving between food trucks while on the road, in a mansion that has suffered a power cut with only torches and lightning flashes, or simply in a kitchen with limited space meaning that you cannot pass by other players easily, each present their own obstacles that slow down your cooking time.
It’s all about keeping your cool. The Nintendo Switch has fast become the perfect home for local multiplayer, and Overcooked: Special Edition, rightly, lives for the laughter and chaos that it creates. You can choose to play solo, where you can switch control between two chefs, but it won’t come as a surprise that it shines most when up to three more players join you in the kitchen. With every console coming with two Joy-Con, it means that you will only need to buy another Joy-Con Pair or have a friend bring theirs to get everyone in on the action.
It will be best to see the Campaign through to completion first, your flourishing culinary career rewarding you with new levels, chef characters and challenge levels to play in Versus. This competitive mode will see two teams compete for dominance in the kitchen whether that be one-on-one (controlling two chefs each) or two-on-two. It can soon become heated, especially when everything starts to go pear-shaped.
Overcooked: Special Edition also comes with The Lost Morsel and The Festive Seasoning content packs, which, collectively, throw in a new jungle-themed world map that you fly around a helicopter on to tackle six campaign levels, a snow-themed world map that – as part of the Onion Kingdom’s cultural outreach programme – will see you take on eight levels with the chance to cook new recipes with a flamethrower, and eight new chef characters to unlock. It certainly comes packed with plenty to keep you busy for a long while.
The early frame rate issues that were reported have been addressed in a recent software update, which is largely why I held off on reviewing it too soon. Now, amid the adorable and somewhat minimalist art style, all that’s left is to get lost in the chaos. The madness certainly comes alive on Nintendo Switch thanks to the clever way that HD Rumble has been implemented, changing sensation to match whether you are chopping carrots, washing dishes, or hurling ingredients into a stewing pot. It’s magical.
In Overcooked: Special Edition, developer Ghost Town Games has achieved something special. Beneath the surface of this crazy culinary adventure is an experience that is outrageously funny to play with friends, that, even when your kitchen is burning down and the fire extinguisher out of reach, will never fail to raise a smile. It’s a perfect fit for Nintendo Switch, and a game that you need to have in your life – it will be all the better for it. For, there is nothing in the world as contagious as laughter.