Review: Overcooked! All You Can Eat (PS5)

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Overcooked! All You Can Eat brings the frantic cooking action of Overcooked! to the new generation with some welcome new levels and features.

Ghost Town Games’ Overcooked!, first released in 2016, took a clever, unique concept and delivered it to perfection. A frantic, hilarious party game that sees players trying to work together to prepare food in kitchens that grow increasingly outrageous, it’s part puzzle game, part strategy game, and all chaos. Overcooked! 2 built on that with new recipes, new chefs, and new kitchens but didn’t really mess with the first game’s extremely successful formula. 

Now both games have made their way to PlayStation 5, packaged together (along with all DLC) as Overcooked! All You Can Eat. As a package that conveniently brings all the Overcooked! you could want into one neat package, along with some new accessibility options, a handy Assist Mode, and new kitchens and chefs.

Each round of Overcooked! gives you a deceptively simple goal: within a set amount of time, prepare and serve as many meals as you can. Orders come in thick and fast, and you need to do whatever’s necessary to get them cooked, plated, and served as quickly as possible. This might be just chopping some lettuce and tomatoes and chucking them on a plate, it might be separately cooking a whole assortment of different ingredients that all take different amounts of time and trying to have them all be ready at once, or it might be something in between. 

The magic of Overcooked! lies in how different recipes and kitchen layouts complicate this simple premise and turn out into something hilariously chaotic. Making even a basic garden salad can become hectic when you’ve got a kitchen with ingredient storage and serving station in one section and chopping boards in another, and a full kitchen bench between them—resulting in the need to frantically pass things back and forth in what hopefully resembles a coordinated manner.

Related: If you like the couch co-op chaos of Overcooked!, you might want to check out Boomerang Fu—a must-have for any game night.

As you add the need to fry things, boil things, not burn things, wash plates, and so on, the situation gets exceptionally more chaotic, and further still when you have to deal with kitchens that periodically divide in two thanks to an earthquake or are built on the roofs of a convoy of moving caravans. All the while, orders keep coming through, and customers get understandably shitty if they have to wait too long.

It is, by design, absolute chaos—the kind of setup that’ll have players frantically throwing slabs of meat across the kitchen at one another in a last-ditch effort to get one final order out the door before time runs out. But it’s also a setup that lends itself to a surprising amount of strategic depth; once you start to get the hang of each new kitchen and learn to use its quirks to your advantage, you can turn meal preparation into a smooth, efficient, rhythmic cycle. In just about every kitchen, relaying ingredients back and forth between players is one of the most effective tools you have, but it’s also something that requires good coordination and cooperation (and when it goes wrong, hilarity and/or broken friendships ensue).

Overcooked! is, first and foremost, a multiplayer-focused game. It works best when you have a few friends around, each person in behind the spatula of their chosen chef and everyone working together for the greater culinary good or going head to head. Couch co-op is where it stands out most, with the chaotic nature of the game feeding the atmosphere in the room, but there are also online multiplayer modes as well, for both private sessions with friends and open sessions with random players.

You can also play Overcooked! solo, although some of the magic is lost when you do. Because having multiple chefs in the kitchen is a foundational element of the game, singleplayer has you controlling two different chefs, whom you can switch between at the press of a button. This comes with its own unique strategic challenges as you try to minimise the amount of time you have a chef just standing around (try to always have the chef you’re not controlling at that particular moment chopping ingredients or washing plates). It still has that same sense of frantic fun when you’re playing solo, but Overcooked!‘s brand of chaos is best shared, and coop players who are in sync are always going to be far more effective than one player constantly switching back and forth between chefs.

This also means that playing solo is hard. Each level has a few different score targets, and a lone player will always be less efficient, making it feel nigh impossible to hit the higher targets until you get a lot of practice with the level in question. If you really want to, you can try using the “split controller” setting to control both chefs at once—one with the left half of your controller and the other with the right—but this is arguably even harder (and is really designed to allow two players to play with only one controller). 

Fortunately, Overcooked! All You Can Eat adds an optional Assist Mode that increases the time available, the score you get per completed meal, and how long it takes for orders to drop off and penalise you. Assist Mode also optionally lets you turn off order time-outs entirely, meaning the customer will patiently wait as long as they need to and that you’ll never have more than two orders queued up at once. It’s a slower, more relaxing way to play Overcooked!, which can be a nice break from the chaos of the regular mode and a nice way to get more familiar with the levels.

The backdrop for all this Tactical Culinary Action is an appropriately silly selection of stories. The Overcooked! campaign begins with the destruction of the Onion Kingdom at the hands of a Flying Spaghetti Monster after the Onion King’s loyal chefs fail to sate the monster’s appetite, prompting the king to send the chefs back in time to improve their cooking skills in order to save the day. Overcooked! 2 once again sees the Onion Kingdom under threat, this time from hordes of “Unbread” that the king accidentally summoned by reading from the “Necronomnomnicon”. The “Extra Trimmings” cover things like seasonal events and holidays, and in a brand new campaign for All You Can Eat, sees you braving ghost ships and lava flows for the sake of being able to regale the Onion King with a story of an epic adventure. The story is a constant source of laughter and goofy humour to with Overcooked!‘s delightfully silly premise.

Overcooked! All You Can Eat brings some welcome additional features to PlayStation 5 (and Xbox Series X|S, though I haven’t played that version). As well as the aforementioned Assist Mode, there are some new accessibility features in an optional dyslexia-friendly font and adjustable font size, as well as player identification icons that use different shapes (as well as colours) to accommodate different types of colourblindness. All You Can Eat also comes with a handful of new kitchens and chefs, including some secret unlockable ones, and all the levels from the first Overcooked! are now playable online for the first time. Aside from the campaign mode, All You Can Eat doesn’t really separate the content from Overcooked! and Overcooked! 2—it’s all just one game, with one pool of kitchens to play and chefs to choose from.

It’s a nice set of updates to a pair of games that were fantastic to begin with. Existing Overcooked! fans can enjoy everything from the first two games, conveniently packaged together along with some new extras and a bit of a graphical upgrade. For newcomers to this world of culinary chaos, there’s no better place to jump in than Overcooked! All You Can Eat.

Score: 4.5 stars

Overcooked! All You Can Eat is developed by Ghost Town Games and published by Team17. It’s available now for PlayStation 5 (reviewed) and Xbox Series X|S.

A review copy was provided to Shindig by the publisher.

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About Author

Matthew is a writer based in Wellington. He loves all things pop culture, and is fascinated by its place in history and the wider social context.