Looking back on 2020, it feels like most of this never-ending year has revolved around cooking. From the early days of lockdown where I felt motivated to experiment with new dishes, to slowly watching myself morph into something akin to a one-man Uber Eats investor, cooking – or my embarrassing lack thereof – has been one of 2020’s few constants.
Now, just as this nightmarish year crawls to an agonising end, a new console generation begins – and I find myself back in the kitchen once again. This time around though, things are a little different. Instead of a 29 year-old-human recreating online recipes, I’m an apron-wearing Platypus – and I’m screaming at a wheelchair-bound racoon to boil pasta on a hot air balloon.
I am, of course, describing the latest incarnation of indie co-op darling, Overcooked. Four years on from its 2016 release, this culinary-themed classic has been reborn on next gen consoles via a remaster collection called Overcooked: All You Can Eat.
If you somehow haven’t spent drunken nights yelling at a mate to slice tomatoes before lobbing lettuce at them across a moving raft, let me explain why Overcooked is such a delight.
In a medium where you can choose to slay dragons or explore the vast recesses of outer space, a game about chopping onions and doing the washing up with friends may not sound like thrilling escapism. Yet, in this team-based extravaganza, chaos is the order of the day – and thankfully, Overcooked is as faithful to cooking as Mario Kart is to Formula One.
Unlike the plumber’s go kart sim, Overcooked doesn’t revolve around screwing over your nearest and dearest – it’s actually all about communication and teamwork. Tasked with cooking a wide variety of dishes under increasingly ridiculous conditions, you and your team all take up different roles in a chaotic kitchen.
While Overcooked could have easily been as dull as the digital dishwater you soon get acquainted with, what makes it brilliant is its bonkers setting. Throughout your adventures, you and your teammates are trapped in a world that feels a bit like watching the ‘Great British Bake Off’ after a seriously misjudged dose of hallucinogens. TL;DR? Overcooked is one of the best party games ever made, and now, this delightful dish has been reheated for next gen consoles.
You’re probably wondering what’s new in All You Can Eat then. Well, sadly, the answer is not a lot. For the cooking sim’s next gen debut, developer Ghost Town Games haven’t served up a bold new menu, but instead delivered players a generous portion of comfort food. This is the playable equivalent of a greatest hits collection – the same games fans already know and love, complete with a few token bsides and remixes.
Inside this full-priced remaster, players will find the original Overcooked, its 2018 sequel and all the series’ DLCs to date, wrapped up in one delicious-looking 4K meal deal. The problem is, this is basically the same meal deal many have been munching on for years.
Still, as you’d expect for a next gen remaster, Overcooked now outputs in full 4K at 60FPS – and it looks gorgeous. Thanks to the new consoles’ lightning-fast SSDs, All You Can Eat’s massive buffet of 200 levels has never loaded faster, either. While that may not make a particularly sexy-sounding addition, when the beers are flowing and you want to keep that co-op party going, every second you’re not staring at a loading screen is a godsend.
Alongside All You Can Eat’s more superficial improvements, the original Overcooked has been given a bit of an overhaul – making it play like its slicker older brother, Overcooked 2. This means that you can go back and play the original’s classic levels using the sequel’s more refined mechanics. The standout feature from the second game was undeniably the ability to lob ingredients at each other as you rush to get out an order, just like we imagine a coked-up Gordon Ramsay would. Now, you can replay the first game’s classic levels brandishing vegetables as a throwable weapon.
If you’re playing All You Can Eat on PS5, you get the added joy of haptic feedback….well, in theory anyway. Unlike its grin-worthy implementation in first party fare like Sackboy and Astro’s Playroom, here the feedback feels like mildly stronger vibration at best… and completely unnoticeable at worst. In a game that’s all about amping up the pressure, there is a ton of potential for brilliant haptic feedback use – so it’s half-arsed implementation feels pretty disappointing.
Like one of those cool-looking but ultimately disappointingly meagre starters you get at a gourmet restaurant, All You Can Eat also adds seven infuriating new levels to the mix. Don’t let this game’s cutesy colorful aesthetic fool you, Overcooked can be absolutely brutal – and these inventive new additions don’t pull any punches. While they’re fun and provide pro players with a decent challenge, no matter how you swing it, seven new stages is simply too stingy to justify the price of entry.
If you’re looking for a substantial new co-op treat, or even just a tantalising new virtual entrée, you’re going to be leaving All You Can Eat severely disappointed. As great as Overcooked and Overcooked 2 still are, they’re the same games that many of us have already played to death, albeit with prettier graphics. If you have lost more hours (and friendships) to Team17’s multiplayer madness than you’d care to admit, All You Can Eat might prove a pretty hard sell. Yet if you’ve never experienced burning soup while haunted ovens chase you around a castle, add two stars to the score – because there’s never been a better way to enjoy these timeless multiplayer classics.
Overcooked: All You Can Eat is now available on Xbox Series X and Series S, PlayStation 5.
Overcooked: All You Can Eat essentially takes the co-op series’ brilliant first two games and their DLCs and squishes them together into a shiny 4K package. For hardcore fans, the measly addition of seven new levels and prettier graphics probably aren’t going to be enough to shell out £55 for two games you already own. Yet for newbies – this co-op greatest hits collection is undeniably the best way to play Overcooked.
- Overcooked is still one of the best multiplayer games you’ll ever play
- The 4K visuals in this remaster are a feast for the eyes
- With 200 levels worth of content, this is great value for newbies
- Online play is the best it’s ever been
- For returning players this is as bare-bones as a remaster comes
- DualSense implementation is rubbish
- For hardcore fans, the new content feels pretty stingy for a fully-priced next gen game