While the same can’t be said for the Xbox Series X|S, the PS5 launch has arguably had the best game lineup in its console family. Demon’s Souls is a beautiful reconstruction of an underplayed classic. Spider-Man: Miles Morales may be a half-sequel, but it’s a half-sequel to one of 2018’s best games, which also got noticeable PS5 remaster. Sackboy: A Big Adventure is fine and has been completely overshadowed by the excellent pack-in platformer, Astro’s Playroom — a game as cute as it is fun and free. Overcooked! All You Can Eat would understandably have a hard time competing with such titles, but it’s one of the best parts of the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S launch lineup.
It sticks out because there’s not much to play with other people for this launch. Call of Duty and Sackboy might welcome multiplayer but most of the heavy hitters from Assassin’s Creed Valhalla to Demon’s Souls are primarily solo experiences. Overcooked is a co-op game first and foremost and that is usually lacking within a console launch.
Hungry for co-op
But Overcooked! All You Can Eat isn’t just there to haphazardly tick a box labeled “co-op” as Overcooked is still the best cooperative experience even years after each entry’s initial release. It’s an approachable premise that anyone can understand yet remains a challenge because of the way the game constantly mixes up both the level design and mission goals. Communication is key as players must speak about how to do the many shifting jobs in the kitchen; a type of ingenious design that flawlessly balances accessibility, replayability, and difficulty. Co-op this is good is rare, especially at a console’s inception.
Since it is a sort of remaster, most of that glowing praise can be said about the Overcooked 2. But this bundle also includes the original Overcooked and exercises a lot of the visual enhancements of its sequel. That scrappy 2016 debut is rough around the edges as its gameplay excused its crusty outer skin — a flaky layer that All You Can Eat gloriously sheds. Understandably, it doesn’t incorporate the sequel’s food-tossing ability, but the updated visual presentation does an excellent job of updating that first game and putting all of Overcooked under one consistent roof.
Both titles look even better in the new generation as levels have more detail and take advantage of the 4K capabilities of each machine. And while the impressive visual improvements, improved lighting, and more striking art can’t be overlooked, the technical improvements help better realize the Overcooked experience. Levels load absurdly quickly and retries are almost instantaneous, leading to less down time and less time feeling down about a poor culinary performance. All You Can Eat keeps its momentum because of the nature of faster hard drives; an aspect that is likely to hold true for many different games this generation.
Controlling the chaos
The PS5 version even goes above and beyond by intelligently incorporating the DualSense’s unique functions. It vibrates as food begins to burn or as the timer runs out and works in tandem with its speaker to give simultaneous audio feedback. The vibrating side of the controller will even correlate to the side of the kitchen that is in need of attention. Gimmicks are all too common in the early stages of a console’s life, but these features turn the controller into a helpful egg timer that yields an undeniable gameplay benefit and additional Gordon Ramsay-like point of stress. After all, a beeping and rumbling controller during the final 30 seconds contributes to the tension that’s baked into Overcooked at its core.
And even though Overcooked thrives on being devious, All You Can Eat also dials down the chaos by implementing a whole suite of friendlier modes. Recipe timers can be turned off, round timers can be extended, and recipes can yield more points to serve younger players or those who might not want such a stress-inducing level of difficulty. A customizable UI, dyslexia-friendly text, and colorblind options also help cater the game to a wider audience. The series has always done well at appealing to all sorts of people and with these changes, more people get to experience even more of what Overcooked has to offer.
Overcooked! All You Can Eat is more Overcooked and that may not seem that remarkable on its face as it is, in some sense, another remaster-esque bundle in a batch full of remaster-esque bundles. It has all of the content from both Overcooked games as well as each’s many, many packs of premium and paid DLC. But Overcooked! All You Can Eat goes beyond value; it is the best way to experience the co-op classic and fills a specific, unfilled niche in both system launches. It’s $50 price tag is a bit steep, but the game is good enough to warrant that price as well as the $70 it takes to buy another controller.