Since Overcooked Hitting the scene in 2016, there has been a notable upsurge in chaotic four-player party games featuring cute animals and lovable weirdos that could best be described as “Overcooked But…”
refueled is the newest game in the “Overcooked but…” genre, but instead of cooking delicious food, your team of intrepid adventurers are tasked with repairing damaged spaceships, refueling them, and getting them to safety. You must do this before they are destroyed by the evil space kraken that will hunt down every single spaceship you recover for the duration of the game.
It starts out very simple: take a fuel crystal, refine it and stick it in the engine to keep it running. But you also have to contend with debris that periodically pockmarks your ship with holes. If you don’t do this, your ship’s durability will be reduced. If it gets low enough your ship will explode. Then of course there are batteries, which keep the airlocks closed, for example, and need to be replaced regularly, unless you fancy an unexpected spacewalk.
You’ll also have to deal with asteroids, which will explode into fireballs or green goo that will slow down anyone who walks through them if not cleared out quickly. Sometimes you’ll get separated from your teammates and have to flip switches to open doors for each other or pass items down conveyor belts.
More challenges will be added as the game progresses. In early levels, you might only have to manage a thing or two, but in later levels, you might have to contend with almost all of the game’s mechanics – and by the end, there’s quite a bit.
As the title suggests, keeping your ship fueled is the key to victory. As long as your ship moves, you earn points. The more points you collect, the more stars you get, up to a maximum of three. The better the condition of your ship, the more points you get, and adding fuel to an engine increases your multiplier.
However, if your engine runs out of fuel, your ship will stop and you will start losing points. When the power runs out, the evil space octopus also has time to catch you. If it catches you, your ship will explode and you’ll have to start the level again, no matter how good you were up to that point. However, if you make it far enough, jump into hyperspace and to safety.
It gets even more difficult when you have a ship with multiple engines, since each engine needs to be fueled to keep the ship moving, and each engine has its own fuel capacity that needs to be managed separately. While most engines can take simple fuel refined from a single crystal, some engines are slightly more complex, requiring you to add an additional crystal to already-refined fuel and refine it again, essentially doubling the time it takes to propel of the engine is required.
Play refueled is pretty easy. You can pick up, put down and use items as well as move your character. That’s all. The difficulty comes from the choices you have to make. Dispose of an asteroid before it can explode, or replace a dead battery to close an airlock? Should you put out a fire or refine a crystal for an engine that’s running out of fuel? Are you repairing holes in a ship with poor health, or are you pouring water on a generator that’s about to overheat and explode?
at his best, refueled requires you to manage multiple things at once while coordinating with your team and trying to maximize your score while preventing your ship from exploding. Levels are very chaotic and wildly inventive. Ships are populated with teleporters, toxic waste pits, moving platforms, and even a volcano.
Deciding what to do – and doing it without getting caught in toxic goo, blocking the way of a crewmate in a narrow corridor, or getting sucked out of an airlock – and trying to control the chaos around you, is part of the fun. The fact that you can play as a cat in a space suit, a disembodied brain, a banana, or a sentient balloon is just the icing on the cake.
Even the most challenging levels are fairly doable if you have a full team of four, but later levels can feel impossible with smaller crews; The game doesn’t seem to scale with the number of people in your crew at one time. This doesn’t matter if you only deal with a few things.
But when you’re worrying about fueling multiple engines, moving asteroids, making sure your battery-powered airlocks have enough juice, repairing hull leaks, managing conveyor belts, and putting out fires, a single mistake can often make the difference in a ship, that runs efficiently and one that explodes or gets caught by the evil space octopus.
In later levels, having at least three players seemed imperative for success. About two-thirds of the game’s 32 levels – divided into five worlds – can be mastered with two players, but at a certain point it’s just too much for two people, no matter how well-coordinated the group is or how familiar they are with it genres are.
A level in world four took my partner and I over 20 tries and when we made it it was to the skin of our teeth. The immediate addition of a third person made the following levels much more doable. Developer Fireline Games released a patch that rebalanced the difficulty, but this was a notable point of frustration in the pre-release build I played.
The other major problem with the game is readability. By default, the camera is incredibly zoomed out, and it can be difficult to see your character, how much fuel an engine has left, or where objects are on the ground. This problem is somewhat alleviated by options that zoom in on the camera and make elements more prominent, but it can still be an issue in some levels.
Even with these options enabled, the game’s chaotic nature can often make it difficult to tell what’s going on or where things are in the more visually busy levels.
But if refueled works, feels amazing. It controls well, looks great, and has a wonderful soundtrack that perfectly matches the hustle and bustle of the levels while giving it a sci-fi feel. The game also offers many accessibility options.
The aforementioned zoom in camera and toggle highlights option is great. But you can also choose to hold keys instead of crushing them – an option I immediately checked to save my fingers some wear and tear. I played it on PC, but playing it with a controller, remapping my buttons, and choosing whether I wanted to see Xbox or PlayStation button prompts was as simple as enabling a few options.
Fueled review – The final result
- Many accessibility options.
- Messy and challenging, especially with friends.
- Wonderful music and art design.
- The levels don’t seem to scale based on the number of people playing.
- Sometimes it can be difficult to see what is happening or where things are.
- It’s fairly short (although there is replay value).
refueled isn’t a long game – you can beat the whole thing in a few hours – but there’s plenty of replay value here when it comes to chasing high scores and completing bonus missions; Each level has two, and they vary quite a bit. Some ask you to keep the engines running throughout the level, open an optional safe, or use a limited number of batteries. The best, however, lean in refueled Weirdness – like asking you to feed the monster that lives in the slime puddle or making everyone jump out of an airlock at a given time.
These goals are purely optional – you won’t get anything for them – but they’re a welcome change that makes levels both more challenging and fun.
It would be easy to dismiss refueled as another game in the “Overcooked but…” genre, but it’s much more. This clever entry combines cooperation and chaos in a challenging, entertaining and often laughable way. If Fireline can fix the game’s scaling issues, they have something special. Until then, make sure you have some friends to play it with.