Upfront, Overcooked 2 is largely the same as its predecessor Overcooked. It’s nearly indistinguishable on the visual side of things, and mechanically, it’s almost exactly the same. It handles too loosely, it packs in the gimmicks like they were on sale at Spencer’s, and its interface and iconography continue to be illegible at every turn.
And yet it still fucking rules. The finely tuned, immeasurably impossible chaos of you and three buddies dashing around a crowded skyward kitchen is as engaging as it was in 2016. The particulars of each of you trying to figure out how you slot into both an unspoken and very spoken agreement on who chops, who cooks, and who puts out uncontrollable fires because someone didn’t take the taters out of the fryer is some of the most simply perfect multiplayer possible.
There’s one change (probably the only change) that shakes this up far more than you’d think. In the first game, you got stuck behind a lot of things. Be it other players or shifting counters or deadly terrain, you just ended up waiting at the worst times. You could either find something else to do or try to rig together the dash and drop mechanics into a half-assed throw that rarely worked. This time, however, Ghost Town Games saw fit to give you a discrete throw ability, and it changes everything.
This enables you to always be active. If a gap opens up, you’re no longer restricted to affecting your space. Throwing ingredients (raw, only, by the way) expands your influence, allowing your kitchen to dish up orders from the entire domain. And with this increased range, the developers are able to design the levels in entirely new and exciting ways.
Granted, in some stages (mostly towards the end), they can feel awfully schticky. Teleporters, for example, don’t seem to do much more than create chokepoints, which is something players do perfectly well all on their own with their bodies. But it’s a fair tradeoff; the ingenuity gained keeps the game from feeling stale, especially since this already skews closer to feeling like an expansion rather than a sequel.
Really, there’s not much else to say. There’s a killer overworld map now where your bus turns into aquatic and flying version as you solve simple button puzzles and there’s online multiplayer now, but truly, this game only works if you are sitting on a couch with your friends and screaming at each other as no one can find a clean dish as someone dashes off into lava while holding a perfectly good four-ingredient meal. And if you didn’t already know that, this is the perfect time to find out.
Overcooked 2 is out now on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch for $24.99.