A good game is like a well-oiled machine, and coincidentally, the same goes for a kitchen. Much like the systems of a videogame, there needs to be a constant stream of ingredients and products in restaurants to keep up with the many orders that come in, which can be very stressful. Along the way, chefs might lose any passion they have for their craft. These are feelings that Overcooked: All You Can Eat simulates quite well, mainly the stress. In the kitchen of Overcooked, efficiency is required, chaos runs rampant, and lone chefs are punished and left unsatisfied.
Overcooked: All You Can Eat is a bundle of the first 2 Overcooked games, but the UI is streamlined so you can shift between the content of both games quite smoothly, at least on paper. Overcooked 2 introduced a feature to throw raw ingredients across the stage and to other chefs, which is a life-saver in many circumstances. However, this makes going back to Overcooked 1 content quite confusing.
The goal is simple: make as many meals within the time limit as possible. Depending on the mission, you get different orders for different recipes that you need to deliver. Completing an order gives you coins, while taking too long causes you to lose coins. Every recipe has to be prepared differently, with different ingredients. For instance, soups require you to cut either tomatoes, mushrooms, or onions on a cutting plate. You then need to put three of the prepared vegetables in a pot and cook it for a while, without taking too long and burning it. Lastly, you need to pour the soup on a plate and then serve it. While some recipes are similar, you’ll be serving a big variety of recipes, from salads to burgers, to sushi and pasta. The system has options for any player to improve their skill when it comes to learning the recipes, levels, and becoming better at getting specific items when in a hurry. Cooperation is the name of the game, as tasks like cooking, cutting, serving, doing the dishes, etc. will need to be split between the active chefs. Because never forget, this is a co-op game at its core.
Overcooked: All You Can Eat offers two story campaigns, one from each game. If you still aren’t satisfied, there are “extra trimmings”, bonus missions that were DLC in the original games but are now unlocked from the get-go. All story campaigns can be completed in any order as well.
The main campaigns have a mediocre but effective story. The first one has you travel through time to hone your cooking skills. A vicious monster known as “The Beast” with an insatiable hunger has taken over in the present, and you need to become a better chef to satisfy it. In the second campaign, the Onion King uses the Necro-nomnom-icon (yes, really) to accidentally summon the Unbread (yes, REALLY). It’s yet again your job to hone your skills to satisfy them.
It might be tempting to play the story modes on your own. If you play solo, you can control two chefs at once, and switch between them with a press of the button. However, this is not at all recommended. This game is a co-op experience through and through and thus is better enjoyed with friends or family at every step. Without someone controlling the second cook, the campaign is incredibly difficult and frustrating. The levels almost require you to have multiple brains working together to share the task. When playing solo, you can have one cook chop vegetables for example, and while he’s doing that, you can move the other chef. However, this isn’t going to cut it on some levels, as any chef that has completed their task will just stand there and wave at the crowd until you take back control. Playing with multiple people will always be the best option, as you can spread out the tasks, always have every chef busy, and even coordinate them. To cap it all off, you can’t keep up the constant influx of orders on your own, causing you to lose a lot of gold due to expired orders. This also makes the game frustrating to play and it feels unrewarding when you do beat the level.
Every level also has a set number of stars that you need to start it. This won’t be an issue in the early game, but you might need to backtrack to replay earlier levels when you’re nearing the end. This can be frustrating and feel forced to add more playtime.
Are you stuck in the story mode and don’t want to continue but are still hungry for more Overcooked? The DLC packs of both games also included in this game give different maps with new themes and new recipes. These levels see a big spike in quality and are a joy to play through.
Overall, the story campaigns could have benefitted from a less severe penalty when failing an order while playing solo, or having an AI-controlled chef. Online matchmaking would have also benefitted this mode. But at the end of the day, the stories are still enjoyable, just when played with a buddy.
Every level adds its own spice to Overcooked’s recipe, however, not all of them were a success. The different level gimmicks are unique and varied, but are often more frustrating than anything. These gimmicks can often lock you out of certain parts of the map, completely stopping your progress if you can’t anticipate. The car levels in the early part of the first campaign are a good example of this, as the different cars in the level will periodically distance themselves from one another, restricting your access to the facilities on the other car. So if you need to chop some veggies, but the chopping table is on the other car and the cars are distanced at the moment, you are out of luck. These hazards are more manageable if you have multiple chefs active at a time, and would you look at that, another reason why playing solo is incredibly frustrating.
Don’t think that all the levels are bad, however. The level design in general has low lows yet high highs, so let’s talk about those highs, like the balloon levels. Because yes, cooking in a hot-air balloon flying through a storm, having that storm crash the balloon, and then landing in a kitchen AND continue cooking… is really cool. Or the space levels, which have you activate buttons or pressure plates to manipulate the cooking area of your colleague. Or troll them. It’s your choice.
The levels in this game are incredibly varied, from ghost houses to ships and volcanoes, yet the gimmicks to go along with these themes are often hit or miss, and often more frustrating than interesting.
Online & PvP
Luckily, you don’t need to do a gathering to play this game effectively, as you can join up with friends who also have the game. The platform your friends play on doesn’t matter either, as this game supports crossplay.
Any couch co-op that you can do offline is also available online, which includes the story campaigns, so if you still don’t have enough stars you can join up with a buddy from the other side of the world. You can also join a random game, with random people, on a random map. That is if you can find a game, as it can take a while. If you do find someone, you have limited options to communicate by pressing Y, with the option for voice chat.
PvP is incredibly straightforward: two teams of two chefs each have their own section on the map where they can cook to their heart’s content. The goal’s the same as usual: complete as many orders as you can. The difference is just that there are now two different teams active. It suffers from the same issue as the rest of the game: solo play (or a 1v1 in this case) is still clunky, and such, this mode is best played with four people.
Graphics & Music
The presentation of the dishes is good in any restaurant, and Overcooked is no different. The art style is adorable and looks stunning. The many playable chefs are varied in style, and there are tons to choose from. One gripe is that you are given a random chef while logging in, so you’re going to have to choose your favorite every single time. The music in the game might not be noticeable when you’re stressed about serving all your dishes, but it’s definitely beautiful and fitting when you pay attention to it.
People often say that too many chefs in the kitchen can cause problems, but in Overcooked: All You Can Eat, you can’t have enough. As a co-op experience, it’s definitely worth a bite but isn’t worth it if you don’t have friends or family who like to game with you. The concept is fun but needs refinement to make it truly shine. Solo play, in particular, is not as enjoyable and instead is incredibly frustrating at the moment. This game is really fun for casual gamers, but for the more hardcore players, you should think carefully before digging into this all-you-can-eat buffet.
Overcooked: All You Can Eat gets a 5.5/10.