Typically when I plan an installment of Family Game Night, it involves finding a family friendly video game for my kids and I to play and give our impressions on. It’s a fun formula and I’m proud of the stories that I’ve written. I’ve been thinking recently though “Not all Family Game Nights have to involve our kids, do they?” I mean… Adam is my family, his wife Kristy is family, my own wife is obviously a part of my family, right? So what if we did a different kind of Game Night? A grown up Game Night? Well, this is the story of our recent attempt to get together one evening and play Overcooked 2. We found out quickly it was easier said than done.
The four of us used to get together pretty regularly to have a few drinks and play some games, but since we started having children it’s become increasingly difficult to make this happen on any sort of a regular basis. The recent release of Overcooked 2 however, motivated us to try and give it another go. We had managed to get together a couple of times to play the original and had loads of fun, so we hatched a plan. My wife and I would pick up the ingredients for tacos, Adam and his wife would hit the liquor store for the wine and cocktails, and we packed a copy of The LEGO Batman Movie to keep the rugrats occupied after dinner. It was a solid plan, what could possibly go wrong?
Everything started out pretty well. The tacos were delicious, the wine was flowing, and after dinner we put all of the children into their pajamas and herded them into the bedroom where we had set up the movie for them to watch while baby Norah just played quietly on the floor. Easy peasy. We turned on the Xbox and booted up the game, ready for a fun evening of grown up entertainment… until Chloe emerged from the bedroom.
Damn. Almost made it to the title screen.
She said that she didn’t want to watch the movie and asked if she could sit with us in the living room while we played. No big deal, she’s old enough now to entertain herself quietly with a book or something, we’re still all good and ready to roll. We started the game and chose our characters, reacquainting ourselves with the controls and movement of the game. If you’ve ever played the original you’ll immediately feel at home with the sequel. It plays very…. ah shit!…. here come more kids.
Samantha and Elliott come charging out of the bedroom, yelling and running for the play kitchen in the corner. Their tiny little heads bobbing in front of the television while I try and yell to Adam that I need more fish at my station. “What about the movie?” I ask as they dump out all of the toy utensils on the carpet. “We want to play!” They yell back, barely even noticing that we’re there. They bang their plastic pots and pans together, pausing occasionally to chase the cat around the room. Chloe turns up the sound on the iPad next to me in an attempt to drown out the noise of the younger kids. Norah starts to get fussy as she’s starting to get hungry. And through all of the chaos… my pasta is burning and our kitchen is now on fire.
Wait. Pause. Hold the f*ck on.
We sat there for a moment, watching the whirlwind of chaos swirling around us. We knew that we couldn’t continue playing under these conditions and with a few glasses of wine in us (and it being past 9pm) we knew that our window of opportunity to have a successful Game Night was closing quickly. So we set down our controllers and like a parenting Voltron we combined to get the kids under control. Baby fed, changed and put in her crib. Check! Toys picked up and put away. Check! Kids tucked into bed with ‘Ryan’s Toy Review’ on the iPad. Check!
These opportunities to get together and play don’t come around very often and we weren’t about to let some little snot nosed punks ruin that for us. It took us about 20 minutes or so, but we finally managed to get things back under control. A quiet fell over the house as all of the kids either fell asleep or at least were peacefully in bed. We filled a bowl with Doritos and sour cream dip and topped off our beverages.
*Sigh*. Okay… I think we’re in the clear. Now where were we?
Oh yeah… so Overcooked 2 will be immediately familiar to anyone who’s played the original game. There’s a new story which seems to weirdly pay homage to (of all things) Evil Dead, but the story is pretty inconsequential. This game is all about wild, frenetic action, and thankfully this sequel has cranked that particular dial up to 11. The addition of being able to throw raw ingredients is a game changer and it’s hilarious when a service gets out of control and you’ve got fish and steaks flying through the air, hitting cooks in the face. It’s a skill that’s incredibly useful though and it can save you a lot of time if done correctly. If you’re good enough you can even toss an ingredient directly into a pot from across the room, which is an incredible feeling (even if I only ever did it by accident).
The stages are also more diverse and zany than ever. From raging rivers to hot air balloons, there is no setting too crazy for this game. I think our personal favorite was one on board the previously mentioned hot air balloon. We soared through the sky cooking pasta fairly peacefully until a thunderstorm approached, the wind howling and blowing work stations around the room. Then lightning strikes our floating kitchen and sends us crashing back to earth, right into a… SUSHI RESTAURANT! We then needed to change up our strategy to whip up salmon rolls among the wreckage of our previous location. That scenario had us screaming with laughter as we struggled to get orders out, but we got the job done.
Communication is the key to success once again in Overcooked 2. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when things get hectic and you need to be able to clearly (and calmly) come up with a game plan and job assignments or you won’t get very far. Like the first game, our patience was pushed to the limit (it’s a great relationship test) but when we all focused and communicated clearly with one another we were able to get through most of the challenges. The game does offer an online mode as well, and while we’ve yet to try it out, I have a hard time seeing that mode being as much fun. This game is very much designed to be played in a room full of friends.
Due to the… “challenges” we had getting the night going, we didn’t spend as much time as we’d hoped with Overcooked 2, but I think we got a pretty good taste of what the game has to offer and we’ll definitely be back for seconds. It doesn’t try and reinvent the wheel, but it didn’t really need to. The game offers enough new cooks, recipes, stages and tweaks to the gameplay to ensure that your party of fledgling foodies will be entertained all night. If you’ve got a group of friends coming over for drinks, snacks, and a few games, you won’t find a much more exciting and hilarious time than Overcooked 2.
Just make sure you schedule a babysitter first.
Adam “More dynamic and even transformative levels keep Overcooked 2 from feeling like warmed up leftovers. Play on the couch with your friends for the best experience and you’ll discover that Overcooked 2 is a welcome second course.”
Kristy “Overcooked 2 is a fun and frustrating game that requires constant communication with your team members in order to successfully complete each order. Tips: Play while drinking, with no children around, and be prepared for when your husband takes over your station!”
John “Overcooked 2 is about as much fun as you can have with a couch co-op game, assuming you have patience and can work well as a team. It’s not a radical reinvention of the series, but there are enough new tweaks to keep things fresh.”
Cristina “I do better the more I drink!!”
Overcooked 2 is available now Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and PC