It’s back! Hopefully you’re hungry for more as the stressfully hilarious and relationship-ending co-operative mayhem, that is Overcooked, is here on the latest generation of consoles, ready to take over your life all over again. Overcooked! All You Can Eat is a remastered version of both Overcooked and Overcooked 2 complete with all of the DLCs (that’s over 200 levels!) associated with them. Overcooked has been fully remastered within the Overcooked 2 engine and both games now run at 4K 60fps. It looks glorious!
Now, of course, not everyone will have played the original games so this review will be for those of you who have no prior experience with these fantastic co-op games.
There’s not much story to consume in both of these games, you’re simply tasked with saving the world from different food-related monstrosities. In Overcooked, it’s a giant meatball that you need to feed until he explodes, and In Overcooked 2, the army of the “unbread” has risen and you must work together to fend off their attacks. It’s not going to win any awards for its story but that’s not the point here; it’s all about that crazy gameplay.
So just what is Overcooked, exactly? This is no Cooking Mama, although a great game in its own right. Instead, Overcooked is much more about working under pressure, staying organised and working together with your team of chefs. You control one of many characters, (60 including the two new unlockable characters,) ranging from narwhals to ghosts and everything in between. You have to cook in various locations whilst manoeuvring around obstacles that are designed to be a royal nuisance while you’re against the clock. Sometimes you will be dodging traffic, other times you’ll be fighting off pesky rats as they steal ingredients. There’s always something to complicate matters and it adds a fresh variety to each mission to stop things from going stale (teehee).
It’s manic stuff and is all about finding a rhythm. If for any reason that rhythm is disturbed, the whole level can completely mess up and you’ll have a lot of starving customers. It can get really chaotic and, if you take it too seriously, it can also become very frustrating. Go into this with the right attitude though and it’s honestly some of the most fun you’ll have in a co-op multiplayer game – I love it and I have no patience at all.
Between your party, unless you’re playing alone (which is somewhat easier, but nowhere near as fun), you need to work together to prepare various meals and drinks as quickly as possible. Preparing meals involves gathering ingredients, chopping them, cooking them and mixing them together on a plate, ready to serve. It also means keeping the kitchen tidy; binning anything that’s not necessary, either wrongly cooked or food that’s simply in the way.
You even have to keep on top of the plates which get sent back as you only have a limited supply in your restaurant, so someone will need to wash them so they’re ready to go back out. It doesn’t sound like a lot at first but when you’re on a time limit, dodging obstacles, and getting roles mixed up, it’s incredibly stressful but also absolutely hilarious. The gameplay is simple in execution, it’s the pressure that brings the fun. Everything is done with a simple press of a button, which is simplistic yet intuitive – unless you’re charging up to throw food to your partner (only available in Overcooked 2 missions).
The gameplay is mostly solid and smooth, but I did have an occasional moment where my character got stuck between two table slots and wouldn’t pick anything up. It’s not common though so it didn’t affect things too much, I just had to jiggly myself a little. My main issue with the game though is the difficulty. Obviously, playing with a friend is fun but it ups the difficulty massively as you need to be coordinated with your fellow chef and able to work in tandem with one another. Don’t be put off though as there is an assisted mode to make it more accessible, but the true challenge is playing it in normal mode – which is incredibly tricky. There’s also an enormous difficulty spike once you get to the 3rd chapters, further enhancing the frustration you’re most likely feeling at that point (in a good way).
Gameplay-wise, Overcooked! All You Can Eat hasn’t really changed anything from the original games. I think the biggest ‘change’, in terms of the game and not the new hardware, is that you can now play through the first games’ levels in online co-op multiplayer – it was originally local co-op multiplayer. The PS5 version utilises the haptic feedback as you play and the controller speaker to sound a countdown once you’re low on time, but otherwise, there’s no change in the game itself. Personally, I was surprised that there isn’t an option for resistive trigger support whilst you’re chopping food, but that’s a minor feature that doesn’t exactly take away from the experience.
‘All You Can Eat’ is a fitting description of what this version gives you. Every character, level and recipe from the series can be found in this game, and that means there is absolutely tons to do. There’s even a new DLC which is unique to this version – which I think is a sneaky way of trying to get you to buy it (containing a new mini-campaign of seven levels and three chefs). Plus, you can unlock two new secret characters. The trophies have merged and changed, becoming much more multiplayer-oriented in this version (new platinum list). I like that they’ve added some fun ones based on dressing up as certain characters and performing certain silly tasks.
The game is basically a celebration of Overcooked and all the madness that comes with it.
If you’ve played the original games and found them a little too hard, the new ‘assist’ mode will help you complete the trickier stages. You also have the option to skip levels and still progress, the recipes time out slower, and the round timers are increased – if you like the concept but felt the previous games were impossible, give this version a go! The devs have also taken a look at the accessibility so more gamers can join in, things such as increasing the UI, dyslexia-friendly text, and colour blindness options have all been added so that nobody is at a disadvantage.
If you’ve not played the previous games, Overcooked! All You Can Eat is the definitive version to pick up. Its updated visuals are beautiful and, with all the ingredients from the DLCs and main games mixed into one tasty concoction, it’s a no-brainer as to whether you should pick it up or not. However, if you’ve already played the games then it depends on how much you enjoyed them the first time, as to whether you go and buy this version. If you found the challenges more frustrating than fun, perhaps you’re best leaving this game to go cold. Personally, I found them both frustrating AND fun, so I really enjoyed replaying the levels from the previous campaigns – also, some of the DLCs were among the best levels that the game offers, including the new exclusive DLC, so that’s definitely a reason to buy this version.
Playing with friends is the way forward, just expect things to get hot in the kitchen. As long as you maintain your composure and don’t let the “too many cooks ruin the broth” proverb come true, you’ll soon find yourself working with your partner like a well-oiled machine… eventually.
As of right now, Overcooked! All You Can Eat is only playable online between gamers on the same platform. However, there is an update (for free) coming early this year which will enable cross-platform co-op multiplayer. So, you’ll be able to get playfully aggressive with fellow gamers on the opposing platform very soon!