Overcooked: Special Edition Review (Switch) – “An Undercooked Disappointment”

Cooking games have garnered quite the fanbase over the years. Looking back to games like Cooking Mama or Ordered Up, to the now plethora of cooking games available on mobile devices, there’s no shortage in this genre. However, there is something that those games don’t have, multiplayer. The team over at Ghost Town Games have created a cooking game that pushes the concept of co-op play (and competitive), and has been a hit on PC, PS4 and X1. Now the game has reached the Nintendo Switch, but is it the version to get, or is this one dish that would make Chef Ramsey shut it down?

Overcooked’s gameplay has a simple concept: cook the food items customers are requesting. As you scramble through the various kitchens, you will have to fry, boil, grill, chop and plate your items. The game’s story is interesting, as you start off by cooking during the apocalypse and this serves (pun intended) as the tutorial. Afterwards, you are sent back in time (to the year 1993) to improve your cooking skills. It is here where you go mission-to-mission trying to get your bearing as a cook. You always have a partner in the kitchen, whether you play local co-op between 2-4 players, or solo with a partner-switching mechanic. The game’s controls are easy to grasp, with only a few buttons to remember: pickup/drop item, action (chop, clean, etc), dash, and partner-switching (only when playing solo). The Joy-Cons can be separated and used as a single controller, helping push the co-op nature of the game. The HD Rumble also works superbly here, enhancing the cooking experience with clever integration.

Overcooked: Special Edition not only contains the core game, but also two DLC campaigns to tackle (best experienced after beating the main campaign). If co-op isn’t your thing, you can also versus your friends in the kitchen and see who the best cook is. If playing online is your thing though, that’s not an option here. Understandably though, this is a game that works significantly better as a local multiplayer game than it would if there was online multiplayer.

Overcooked is a game that is meant to be easily accessible to players, but nabbing three-star ratings on each mission will require the communication skills of a head chef. In other words, you must communicate with your teammates to truly excel. Each environment is designed to take advantage of the co-op design. One character cannot do everything in the kitchen, otherwise not enough dishes will get sent out to hungry customers. Communication is key, as is precision. The kitchen tables are grid-based, so placing items down will snap to the direction you’re facing. When cooking items, you will have to pay close attention to their completion meter, as once that is done, you only have a 5-10 seconds to get it off the grill/pan before it goes on fire. At first this seems like ample time, but later levels make you feel the time pressure. Should things set ablaze, you will have to use the fire extinguisher to quickly put out the fire before it spreads throughout the kitchen. It’s chaotic for sure, but that’s part of the “fun”. I use the term lightly because that’s the thing, the game can be “fun”…if it weren’t for its performance.

Unfortunately, the game runs very poorly. While the other console ports and PC version run at a steady framerate, the Switch version performs at a disappointing 20+ frames per second. In a game about precision, this is inexcusable and makes playing the game more of an exercise in frustration. The constant framerate issues really hurt the overall experience. Whether playing docked or undocked, the framerate issues are more than present. The visual appearance and art style itself is simple, but certainly colorful and easy on the eyes. Nothing jaw-dropping, but an endearing looking game nonetheless. The various locales all have a unique setting and are well-designed, whether it be a restaurant, pirate ship, icy lake, or food trucks on a highway. In terms of audio, the sound effects all capture the sounds of being in a cooking kitchen. The chopping on the board, the grilling, boiling, and other key sounds really do a great job. The soundtrack is appropriate and hits the right notes for cooking, but is does get repetitive quick.

Overcooked Special Edition is a game that should’ve been a great fit for the Switch. It’s a shame because the core gameplay mechanics are solid and it seems like there’s a fun time to be had here. Unfortunately though, the poor framerate, and inconsistent controls due to frame drops, make this game a chore to play. This is one dish that is fairly undercooked…

Overall Score: 6.0 out of 10 = Wait for a price drop…

A special thank you to the publisher for providing us a review copy for Overcooked: Special Edition! Copy reviewed on Nintendo Switch.

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