[Disclosure: A review copy was provided for the contents of this article]
There was – maybe is – a good chance that Overcooked: Special Edition (just Overcooked from now on) could be one of the most suitable games ever to be ported to the Nintendo Switch, thanks to it’s addictive cooperative play. This is legitimately the kind of game that you could use to extol the virtues of Nintendo’s latest console to your friends and family, cracking it out on the train, on holiday, at work – wherever – and handing out Joy-Con’s for some crazy cooking fun. Unfortunately though, the Nintendo Switch version of Overcooked (at least right now) is kind of broken.
Upon booting the very first level, I couldn’t believe the amount of frame rate drop I was seeing. Overcooked is a hectic but nonetheless fairly simple looking title, but it does require absolutely pinpoint accuracy to play effectively. Having your chef skid past a chopping board or frying pan through no fault of your own is bloody infuriating, and if I’m honest, it made me want to smash my Switch into a million pieces. I really wanted to like Overcooked, and I hope upon hope that the development God’s will bless us with a patch to resolve it.
Now, let’s pretend for a minute that there isn’t a major problem with Overcooked, and that it is just fine and dandy. On that basis, I’ll attempt to provide you with a review that lasts more than two paragraphs, but know this; I am applying some of my existing knowledge about how fun the game can be, and I’m kind of imagining those hi-jinks as if I was experiencing them on a portable console. I’m not saying that the game doesn’t occasionally run well, because some levels are actually fine, and I have no idea what causes the difference between one and another.
First up, let’s talk about the ingredients that make the Nintendo Switch version of Overcooked such an interesting dish. The game includes both the base game and all DLC released to date, including both The Lost Morsel and Festive Seasoning add-ons. There’s loads of boring stuff in the add-on packs like extra chef characters and new vehicles if that’s your thing, but the main things is that with the base game and the additional content, you have a really hearty selection of both campaign and cooperative levels. The Nintendo Switch HD Rumble feature is also well used, which gives really nice feedback when chopping or frying food.
The campaign mode features a fun, lighthearted story about an edible deity that attempts to destroy the world (probably) and to prevent it, players have to travel back in time, improve their cooking skills and, erm, whatever. It doesn’t matter – basically, one to four players must don their chefs whites and attempt to manage a working kitchen. At first this is fairly simple – pick up veg, chop it, cook it, serve it. Sometimes you’ll need to wash up the plates, sometimes you’ll need to manage multiple individual components and bring them together at exactly the right time. Sometimes, you’ll need to plan your cooking around the fact that the kitchen is periodically split in two because of a shifting tectonic plate. Oh really? Yes, really.
With one player, two chefs must be controlled with a single controller, which is hard because it slows play down due to the fact that only one can move at once. With two or more players, Overcooked is hard because humans, it seems, are incapable of working together. Have you ever imagined yourself screaming “PUT THE F**KING MEAT IN THE PAN” at your soon to be former best friend, moments before you fall into a chasm of lava whilst trying to juggle a plate of salad? No? Neither had I, but then I played Overcooked.
You’ll get it wrong lots, but when you get it right, it feels like a glorious ballet of interlinking activities. You’ll dance around your pals as if you had a momentary insight (each level lasts just three minutes) into how a real kitchen might operate. You’ll feel the delight as food is chopped, moved, cooked and served. You’ll know your role, so will your friends, and it will be amazing. There will be cheering. There will be high fives all round. You might even get three stars (but probably not) and you’ll absolutely love it.
It is the potential for these high points that makes the current state of the Nintendo Switch version of Overcooked such a bitter pill to swallow, and yet the concept of a fantastic game remains. As a result, the Nintendo Switch version of the game is incredibly hard to review and score, so I really hope you’ve read the words and didn’t just skip to the score. At the very least, my advice is that if you feel as if you want to invest in the game, you should at least Try It first, and when it is inevitably fixed, which might be today, tomorrow, or in two years time, you should definitely: