The opening sequence to Shakes on a Plane could not have been more confusing. Starting with an alien conference call and nods to the likes of Plan 9 From Outer Space, it transpires that the havoc heading your way is the creation of sadistic aliens.

You may have heard of this title already; an Overcooked style game where you’re serving food to passengers aboard a plane. The concept, at least the location, is a decent one as there’s no escaping the demands of passengers mid-air.

Touted as a co-op, you can get surprisingly far on your own, but where’s the fun in that? Is it any fun? Cheesy announcer voice: “Let’s find out…”.

Shakes On A Plane PC Review

PC multiplayer games don’t always work for me as my experience has either been die-hard players that take games seriously, Hell Let Loose, or multiplayers better suited on a machine such as the Switch when playing locally, Bake n’ Switch.

Shakes on a Plane - Cabin crew
Cabin crew. Source: Steam

Shakes On A Plane already had me at hello – first because of the witty title, second because it’s from Assemble Entertainment. I already hold them in high regard for keeping Leisure Suit Larry alive, among other excellent titles.

The premise is simple, excluding the slightly irrelevant opener, as you just need to serve the customers onboard. Upon completion, you fly to the next destination with an increment to the difficulty, making the stakes higher with another parameter to adhere too, or put simply, subjected to more frequent demands.

Like the titles it pays reference to, you play an attendant and need to run to a station to obtain the customer order, then deliver it to their seat. When they’re done, you have to take the trash and recycle it, all before their satisfaction gauge expires, all within the time limit of the level in question.

Who Needs Friends? Leeroy!

It’s fair to say that I’m quite an anti-social gamer and other players have to undergo a strenuous verification process of ‘do I know you?’ before I will play with them. It’s not that bad, but I prefer to play alone, or if it’s multiplayer, then locally more so than online.

Shakes on a Plane, developed by Huu Games, is fundamentally a co-op effort, but you can go at a fair pace on your own for longer than is the norm. It was a pleasant surprise that despite the introduction of trays, which means stacking up orders for demanding customers, I was still able to ace a level – and there are no difficulty settings, so it wasn’t cheating.

But it’s naive to think you can continue at a leisurely pace and the chaos ensued as I tripped over the additional player (neither AI nor player-controlled), or the plane would dip one side causing me to drop what was in my hands in the wrong place.

It’s suggested that you play with a controller, and I’d recommend that too as there’s no input from the mouse, making menus – notably the world map, a little awkward to navigate. Still, it’s doable solely on a keyboard but forget about sharing one with another player.

Shakes on a Plane - World
World, meet my oyster. Source: Steam

Obstacles Everywhere

As a co-op experience, it always depends on the other (if not three other) players you work with. My eldest daughter is the go-to reviewer of these sorts of games, and she gets a kick out of thwarting my efforts. This time around, she wasn’t so bad, and we set up a system where we could place orders on a counter while the other delivered them. It worked.

But playing alone still factors in. Can you even pursue a solo effort? Yes, and surprisingly there are a couple of moments of downtime while you wait for the next order. Either that was the plan in Shakes on a Plane, or I’m super organised.

However, the frustration soon kicked in with wandering bodies getting in the way. Most times you could walk past them, occasionally you’d walk through them, and fewer, but more memorable times, you’d pick them up and drop your tray – aaargh!!

Then, to make matters worse, some of the free-roaming children would sit on your tray. As you put them down, they walk over to the order, pick it up and walk away with it. Of course, you can snatch it back off them but those few seconds are a massive spanner in momentum and irritating as hell. But do you know what? That’s the nature of the game and just adds to the urgency of it.

Travelling With Children

I’ve personally had a run-in with an angry passenger after a long haul flight when our baby at the time was crying on landing. It was so unbelievably stressful, and I sympathise with other parents and passengers putting up with this uncontrollable noise.

Here I sympathise with flight attendants. If only you could open the airlocks and throw the kids out. Come on people, it’s not real life, I wouldn’t encourage this anywhere else, but these little brats are such a burden, as are the ever-demanding passengers intent on spoiling my shift with their burger demands.

Shakes on a Plane - Future
The future of aviation. Source: Steam

In all seriousness(!?), Shakes on a Plane is one of the better Overcooked-like co-op games I’ve played of late, and that’s been a fair share in 2020. The visuals are a mixed bag at times as they look the part, but don’t stand out. Other times the animations (mostly when passengers leave the plane when you get your rating) are a bit wonky but don’t spoil the experience.

What makes this a standout title is the ability to create your own stressfest (in a good way) of going solo. You have to have another player in the game if you want to proceed, but they don’t have to be controlled, do your thing as is. I’d wager that if these were AI-controlled, they’d only get in the way and making the game for individuals less fun.

Shakes On A Plane Review Summary

Undoubtedly best played with others, it’s refreshing how much mileage you can get out of Shakes on a Plane on your own, and I had a lot of fun solo, as well as my deviant hellspawn of a child usually intent on destroying my progress. Worth a look!