Family Style is the most fun I’ve had in a multiplayer game in a good long while. I first played the game at DreamHack Anaheim 2020, standing in a circle with several other people, holding a mobile phone and tossing ingredients to one another as we laughed and got louder as the game’s pace ramped up. When I got stuck in a demo for a different game that I absolutely couldn’t stand, Family Style is the game I went back to immediately afterwards, because I knew I would enjoy the experience of playing it with the devs and other show attendees. It’s a simple, easy to learn, very good time.
Family Style is a multiplayer mobile app for 2-8 players that brings chefs together into a communal kitchen to cook and score points. Every player has their own recipe that needs to be made; every player also has the ability to pass ingredients to other players (by swiping left and right) and receive ingredients to make and submit those recipes. As players pass levels, the game starts adding more ingredients and multi-step mechanics: chopping watermelon, frying eggs, etc. The game ends when players run out of time to submit enough points. Of course, the more people playing, the crazier gameplay gets. I’ve never made it past level 9 with three players; I’ve made it all the way to level 26 with two players, and we quit because at that point it became more of an endurance test than a race against the clock.
It’s difficult to describe the sort of wild teamwork Family Style enables, but it is an absolute blast despite the challenges the game poses. It’s not unlike a simpler version of Overcooked, but simpler does not mean less frenetic. It’s fun, but it’s still pressure, and after a while your brain starts leaking out your ears: in the aforementioned 26-level game, I eventually lost the word for “orange slice” and called it a “lime squeezy thing,” much to the amusement of my game partner. There’s also nothing quite like being stymied in a timed game – in one of my three-player games, we all spent a solid five seconds howling “AVOCADOOOOOOO” because we all needed avocado to continue and the game was refusing to provide. That said, a week later, we’re still laughing about it – it’s a highly-pressurized sort of fun, but a heck of a lot of fun nonetheless. Also, I will forever appreciate the appropriately cheesy food-related puns in between each level – Chef Party obviously put a lot of love into their game, and it shows.
Family Style is the sort of game I would recommend for when you’re with a group of friends or family and you need to wait. Early to the movie theater? At the restaurant but don’t have a table yet? In a long line for a theme park ride? Download the app, join a kitchen with your friends, and do a little chaos cooking while you’re waiting for your main event.
All in all, Family Style has become my go-to in-person group game – it’s easy to learn, easy to play with a manageable difficulty curve, and more fun than I initially expected. I highly recommend giving it a try during your next long line or game night.
Family Style is developed and published by Chef Party and is available on iOS and Android.
— Katie Cullen