When I first watched the gameplay trailer for Let’s Cook Together it instantly reminded me of the adverts for the Nintendo Wii in the early days. Why? Because I saw plenty of happy smiley families playing games from the comfort of their own sofas. Very wholesome. However, the gameplay itself reminded me very much of the excellent Team 17 hit Overcooked!; very much indeed. But is there more to Let’s Cook Together than meets the eye, or is it simply a budget version of a premium product?
Before anything else, it’s important to point out that Let’s Cook Together has been designed exclusively for two local players, meaning there’s no option to play solo against any sort of AI, or indeed online. This will unfortunately limit the game’s reach, despite the fact couch co-op deserves all the support it can get as it’s such an enjoyable way to play games. The developer, Yellow Dot, deserves some credit for this at least.
The game is set in the world of a daily TV cookery show, where you and your colleague race to whip up food and drink orders whilst learning new skills and adding more equipment to your kitchen. It’s a simple but effective idea for a setting, however some audible commentary or a more prominent presenter presence would have really fleshed out the experience.
Your cooking adventure plays out across three seasons, each set in a different studio with its own distinct theme. New recipes are gradually drip fed through to you as you complete the numerous levels on offer (the first season has 56 of them alone). For some of these you will also unlock new equipment, such as blenders, which dial up the complexity as you plan out how to make each order in time. The orders all come with a time limit, and at the top of the screen you can see how many more you need to make before you clear the level. It’s a slow process, so if things aren’t challenging enough you can change the difficulty settings in the game menu.
Each of you plays on one side of the kitchen, able to chuck ingredients and partially prepared dishes to each other. This is important because you’ll rarely have access to everything on your own side of the kitchen, meaning communication and planning is key. The difficulty sharply increases in those levels where the kitchen is calibrated in such a way that both of you need to be involved in making even simple orders. This takes time, and ramps up the tension or orders pile up in the centre of the kitchen.
Before long, you’ll be chopping, frying, blending and pouring your way to success. Things start off very manageable, and you’ll earn coins for successfully completing each order. If you time it right, and send each part of an order to be served in quick succession, you’ll earn combos which are worth bonus coins. Each stage has three stars up for grabs, so the better you perform (by earning coins) the more likely you are to scoop all three.
Coins and stars are important, as they can be spent on upgrading your equipment. These upgrades will help you tackle the more frantic levels, in ways such as reducing cooking times, allowing you to cook numerous items simultaneously, and upgrading certain items of equipment with an automatic mode, giving you time to whizz off to do other things.
You can also unlock extra characters to play as, who are all cutely animated pieces of fruit and veg themselves. There are also a couple of extra game modes to be unlocked, them being battle and endless modes. In battles, you race against each other to complete dishes rather than working cooperatively. These are brief but fun deviations from the main game, where the victor will be the cook who emerges with the most coins at the end of the service. Endless mode speaks for itself: here you can play to test your skills and resilience as the orders just keep on coming. Of course, the quicker you earn stars, the sooner you’ll be able to get your hands on these extra modes.
In Let’s Cook Together there are loads of levels to play through and content-wise overall there are hours of gameplay on offer here for a really reasonable price. It’s a great budget alternative to Overcooked! if you don’t want to part with too much cash.
To be clear, Let’s Cook Together borrows heavily from Overcooked! and overall it offers a less complex, more simplistic experience that’s suitable for gamers of all ages. It’s still a lot of fun to play though, because put simply, what it does, it does well.
Let’s Cook Together brings co-operative culinary chaos to Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One