Overcooked for the overstressed

The word overcooked may bring back memories of food left unattended in a student oven. The stress of setting off the smoke alarm, the despair of wondering what the hell you could eat instead. When it all gets too much, there is a game which offers you an escape: Overcooked.

First launched in 2016, players take on the role of chefs, sent back in time to train for the ultimate challenge, cooking fast enough to feed a ravenous giant meatball. Sound insane? You don’t know the half of it.

The kitchens in which the game is set look like they were designed by a madman. Located in the middle of roads, on ships, icebergs and trucks, and often shifting configuration throughout each round, these kitchens are death traps, prone to fires, delays, and collisions.

The goal is to complete the greatest number of orders in the allotted time in each round, preparing simple dishes – usually soups, burgers, pizzas, or fish and chips. Working collaboratively with up to four players sees chaos take over, but unlike a student kitchen there are no smells, and you can restart the level any time.

Playing this game with my flatmates has been a great stress reliever these past few weeks. A catalyst for social interaction without the need for conversation, allows us all to game side by side after a long day. In the anarchy of these crazy kitchens if your peers frustrate you, there is a mechanism to punch them in game. It is very cathartic.

As far as games go this is a simple one, but incredibly addictive. Repetitive actions and simple instructions have been shown to have a calming effect on mental health, as well as stimulating alternative neural pathways through the emphasis on hand eye coordination.

I highly recommend Overcooked for winding down in an evening. The chaos of Oxford is nothing compared to the chaos of the kitchen, though the latter is predictable, controlled, and most importantly, fun. If deadlines have you feeling overcooked, try making fish and chips on an iceberg. You’ll forget your problem sheet woes in a second.