Games: Too many chefs make for an amazing recipe
Overcooked (PS4/XO/PC), 5 Stars, Age: 3+
Is it fair to judge the success of a game by how much swearing fills the room when a session is in full flow? Damn right it is.
Overcooked requires up to four players to cooperate in running a restaurant kitchen where the orders come thick and fast - and the four-letter words just seem to flood out as everyone gets in a hilarious tangle.
Perhaps it's less funny if you're more Neven Maguire than Gordon Ramsay. Yet half the entertainment in the chaotic local co-op of Overcooked stems from abusing other players not pulling their weight. "That was your f***ing job! I'm slicing the lettuce." "But I was chasing out the bloody rats!" And so on.
For these are no ordinary kitchens. Overcooked sees to it that the timed but simple tasks (chopping the raw ingredients, cleaning the dishes, assembling the meals, etc) are dramatically hampered by the staging. One kitchen sits on a slippy iceberg, another on a swaying ship where the benches rearrange themselves, another on two moving trucks. Successful teams must instantly assess each location and devise strategies to divide up the work.
Yet swearing like a docker at each other for farcically failing to cooperate seems equally amusing.
This is the Police
(PC) 4 Stars Age: 18+
A corrupt city, a menacingly polite mafia boss and a police chief at the end of his tether - these are the incompatible building blocks for an interesting story-led management sim.
Laconic top cop Jack Boyd has to juggle limited resources to keep a lid on city crime while fending off (or embracing) the advances of the mob. The muted visual style suits the unsensationalised yet gripping story. The simplistic management of the daily cop roster to respond to crime feels repetitive but offers a cleansing counterpoint to the moral decisions weighing on Boyd in the face of pressure from City Hall and the mob.
We Happy Few (Preview version)
XO/PC Rating: n/a Age: 18+
You can't pass a verdict on a game previewed in half-finished form but this curio with echoes of Orwell's 1984 has much work to do yet despite its intriguing setting.
You're trapped in a dystopian English village whose population constantly pop uppers to cope with depression. What follows is a survival-style adventure that blends memorably freaky characters, randomly generated street layouts, and some wickedly scary old ladies. While its visual appeal is undeniable, issues with woolly combat and a lack of narrative demands judgment be reserved for a later day.