“Things start to go wrong very quickly”

Sal­vaging my re­la­tion­ship af­ter play­ing Over­cooked

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Are you ready?” my boyfriend asks, as he boots up Steam on his com­puter. “You betcha,” I re­ply, grab­bing a con­troller. It’s our first time play­ing Over­cooked to­gether, and I’m feel­ing good about it. We know how much fun co-op games can be, and we love food and cute an­i­mals, so this should be per­fect.

Ex­cept things start to go wrong. At first we play in si­lence, bro­ken only oc­ca­sion­ally by the ex­change of terse or­ders. “Grab the plates. Chop those to­ma­toes. Fetch that pan.” It’s go­ing well, though I’m not sure that ap­proach­ing the game like it’s a covert op­er­a­tion is the best method.

As we start a level where a busy road cuts our kitchen in half, I feel stress ra­di­at­ing from him. I be­gin to panic, hop­ping be­tween tasks. “What are these piz­zas do­ing here?” I ask at one point. “Those aren’t piz­zas, Kim­ber­ley, they’re dirty plates,” he sighs, and I re­mem­ber I was sup­posed to be in charge of the wash­ing up. I’ve also taken up ev­ery avail­able sur­face with onions. Chop­ping, cook­ing, clean­ing, and try­ing not to fall over each other proves too much. Who knew mak­ing a sim­ple burger with tomato and let­tuce would be so hard?

Too many cooks

It goes from bad to worse. The floor cracks in half. One side of the kitchen is on fire. No one has their mush­room soup. An­i­mals shouldn’t be run­ning a res­tau­rant! I don’t hear my boyfriend vi­brat­ing be­side me. “The meat’s burn­ing, Kim­ber­ley. Kim­ber­ley, did you hear me? THE MEAT IS BURN­ING.” I look up to find four pans of diced beef black­en­ing.

“This is sup­posed to be fun, isn’t it?” I shout. “That’s what games are about, fun!” “This isn’t fun!” he roars back. “This feels like go­ing to work!”

The con­trollers end up in a bun­dle on the floor. As he deletes Over­cooked from his Steam ac­count, I turn to the cor­ner in a sulk and don’t talk for an­other 30 min­utes.

“Maybe we could play the sec­ond one,” I of­fer the fol­low­ing week when things have thawed, fid­dling with the straw in my iced cof­fee. “You make sushi and there are new char­ac­ters.” I look up to see him star­ing at me stonily, I take that as a no.

That week­end we be­gin play­ing Lovers in a Dan­ger­ous Space­time, which has 100% more bun­nies and 100% less stress. Our re­la­tion­ship has sur­vived, though scars re­main.

Be­fore the whole kitchen went up in flames

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