So oddly, I have to write about this game called Overcooked. It’s a video game about cooking. Yes, cooking. You choose silly little avatars and run around poorly designed kitchens, assembling burgers and pizzas and burritos. Oh, there is an eclectic narrative of sorts: after all, you’re time-traveling line cooks building up your kitchen skills in order to save the world from a giant, really hungry alien in the future. But basically, you are working in a virtual cartoon restaurant, a timed, level-based game that applies contemporary graphics to gaming concepts that wouldn’t feel out of place on a classic Nintendo Entertainment System.
It sure doesn’t sound like much on paper, but I’m writing about it because it’s addictive and stupidly fun. For one thing, it possesses a fast-paced, easy-to-grasp co-op mode that accommodates two to four players, making it a great party game. As someone who finds co-op puzzle solving exhausting at times, I love Overcooked’s quick-hit sessions that don’t steal your whole day, and its refreshingly simple and addictive “okay, let’s try that again” sensibility, which requires collaborative strategizing. It’s also a ridiculous-looking game that improves your problem-solving skills. In essence, Overcooked is gamified process engineering; the challenge is to evaluate the layout, assess conditions, and determine the most efficient way to convert raw materials into finished product. Since I’ve been doing this for a living for two decades in information processing, you would think I would reject this game as simply more work. But I guess these principles are hardwired; I derive absurd amounts of pleasure from conquering Overcooked’s goofy problems and advancing through its zany, frantic levels. A surprisingly fun and satisfying game.