Get Out of the Kitchen: Play With Your Kids (Overcooked Edition)
One of the things that my daughter and I have done since she was old enough to pick in a high chair at the table with me and wield a kid sized knife is cook together. When she was little more than a toddler “cooking” looked a lot like mushing up soft vegetables with her knife and shoving them in her mouth. Now that she is older and has her own little paring knives it looks a lot more like actual cooking (still with a lot of vegetables being shoved in her mouth).
With our incredibly busy weekday schedules the time that we spend together cooking and eating is precious. It’s a time when there is no homework to be done, no email to be answered, and no random YouTuber yelling at us from a screened device. There is usually some music and lots of conversation. Good conversations. Her asking me to tell her stories about cooking with my grandmothers or the first time I had a specific food and hated it (like the brussel sprouts that we now both love), or any fun kitchen related tale. It’s kind of a magical time.
When I saw that Ghost Town Games’ new game Overcooked was available on the Xbox One (as well as PS4 and Steam) and had a co-op mode I was super excited. I thought that this would be a great opportunity for us to play a game together that encompassed the activity that brings us so much joy. Overcooked is a time management game that asks you to chop ingredients, cook food, serve meals, and wash the dishes in a timely manner. Though timely is not a word that I would use to describe how we do any of that in real life I thought that this would be a blast to play together and after seeing the adorable art style and knowing that we must use our cooking kills to save the Onion Kingdom, Pea was really in for the challenge.
The game starts with an impossible level that necessitates the Onion King sending the player back through time to hone their cooking skills so that they can defeat the evil meatball monster the second time around. When we first started playing the game, Pea asked that I play the game introduction alone so that she could see how to do it in the later levels. My first play through involved lots of screaming, sputtering, and yelling at the little chef on the screen to do all the things that I needed him to do in order to successfully complete the level (not knowing at that time that there was no way to successfully complete the level). My screams of frustration and theatrics brought peals of laughter from Pea, who then insisted that this behavior would be necessary for me to continue through the entire game.
Overcooked is fun. It’s like a Facebook game on steroids, but you can play with up to 3 other chefs and there is no waiting for lives to recharge or linking of friends. Don’t let my reference to this being a Facebook game scare you off. This game is fun and HARD. I mean brutally hard at points and it gets progressively harder. The number of ingredients and dishes increase, the kitchen counters actually start to move, fires begin to spread to set the entire kitchen on fire…it’s like the culinary gods are out to get you! And this all happened in the first hour of play.
While Overcooked is an amazing game to play with other people go that you can all scream frantically at the screen simultaneously it is a good game to play single player as well. The short time allotment for adding items to the pots make single player play a bit more challenging and you’ll find yourself looking for workarounds for that because the game doesn’t seem to automatically scale down for single players to play in the same way that they might for co-op teams, but I won’t spoil it with suggestions. I’ll let you figure this one out on your own.
Overcooked is currently selling for $16.99 on consoles and PC and is worth the price of admission for a solid co-op game that is blast to play with friends (and your kids). Screams and funny voices are optional, but they definitely add to the “entertainment” according to Pea.