As much as I love co-op games, especially ones that require lots of precise teamwork, I never played the Overcooked series. Yeah, I know, they frequently come up in lists of the best co-op games, but for some reason I just never took the dive into the Overcooked series before. In hindsight, it’s exactly what I wanted in a co-op game: fun challenges that require coordination and teamwork. And I couldn’t have chosen a better way to get into the series, because Overcooked! All You Can Eat has everything the series has to offer, and it’s a huge serving of cooperative fun.
Overcooked! All You Can Eat is a compilation of Overcooked! and Overcooked! 2, two now classic cooperative games that are all about cooking—sort of. The goal is to gather ingredients, prepare and serve them, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. Anyone who has worked food service in the past might recognize the time pressure and coordination that’s required in a professional kitchen. Now add fireballs, shifting floors, and rotating work stations and you’ll have an idea of what Overcooked! is all about. You and up to three other friends (or you solo, controlling two characters) must work together to overcome these obstacles to get food out and score above a certain threshold to continue.
While I’ve played a lot of games that are similar to Overcooked!, there’s something about the particular chaos of Overcooked! I haven’t experienced anywhere else. The mechanics lend a lot to the chaos and sometimes frantic gameplay. You can and will get in another player’s way, or even click on the wrong tile and accidentally snatch an ingredient away from a friend, or put an ingredient in the wrong dish, forcing it to be completely remade. Overcooked! isn’t about precision, thankfully. You can put down a burger bun, and place a plate over it—and the bun will be on the plate. Order of operations rarely matter, and this allows for players to come up with interesting assembly lines for the rotating needs of the hungry masses just off screen. While I’ve played a lot of similar games, Overcooked! deserves its reputation for co-op fun.
There is a whole lot of game in Overcooked! All You Can Eat. It contains the entirety of Overcooked! and Overcooked! 2, including the entire gamut of DLC that has been released for Overcooked! 2. All You Can Eat also adds 3 new chefs, new accessibility options, crossplay capabilities, and a purported boost to 60fps in “4K goodness.” Not only does each of the games have its own campaign, they each have a survival and practice mode. In survival, you and your friends try to last as long as possible against an endless wave of customers. Practice allows you to hone your culinary and cooperative skills without the pressure of scoring or timers. Both the first and second Overcooked! games feel very similar, but playing them back-to-back, it feels like Overcooked! 2 should have come first, for a few reasons.
For someone coming into this series for the first time, I was surprised how little introduction to cooking you get before your kitchen is thrown into fiery disarray in the first Overcooked!. There is little to no learning curve before the first game starts giving you pretty hard challenges. Luckily, All You Can Eat eases this pressure by adding two ways to play: either play it the classic way, or the newer, more forgiving way. Overcooked! 2 on the other hand, eases you into the Overcooked! gameplay a little slower than the first game, and lets you learn the mechanics a bit more before giving you the really hard obstacles to overcome.
Overcooked! All You Can Eat never fails to present a new twist on the cooking challenges. There are conveyer belts to manage, platforms that move, and other platforms you have to control. Some levels you feel like you’re at the mercy of the game and luck, while others give you some control over the chaos. The DLC for Overcooked! 2, goes even further in this variety, and Extra Trimmings throws a lot of new interesting recipes and obstacles into the established Overcooked! formula. Each of these DLC packs are practically mini-campaigns, too. There’s just a ton of content here.
I played through Overcooked! All You Can Eat in local co-op mode with my wife. Somehow, our relationship survived (just kidding, love you Mariel!) but we ran into a whole heap of technical issues along the way. First of all, and this almost delayed this review even further: we couldn’t get our controllers to work. My computer knew they were attached, but Overcooked! All You Can Eat just didn’t recognize them. I had to use software to spoof the game into thinking our Xbox One controllers were actually Xbox 360 controllers—and for some reason that worked. I’m hoping there will be a patch to address these issues, because our controller issues only persisted. There would be random disconnects, or sometimes buttons wouldn’t work the way they were supposed to. It’s unfortunate that such egregious issues are affecting such a great compilation.
Overcooked! All You Can Eat is a great way to get into the Overcooked! series, especially for those who haven’t played before. If you want to enjoy the 200+ levels on next-gen consoles at 4K, consider picking up this collection. But if you already own them all on PC, you won’t get much more here than you already have. There are a few new levels and characters, but the controller issue makes an otherwise perfect game suffer from some serious problems.
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