As I have mentioned in many posts before, the Overcooked series (Part I and II) has been one of the top gaming experiences for my girlfriend and I. Even after playing some Overcooked with friends before, it was during the pandemic that we beat both games and all of the DLC (downloadable content) that has been released.
What makes the Overcooked games so special is the simplicity. Anyone from an experienced gamer to someone who has never played a video game can figure out the controls fairly quickly. While new recipes and cooking styles are introduced as you progress, the controls never really change — Overcooked 2 did add the ability to throw items, but that’s just a small improvement. From the very beginning players are able to pick up/drop items, move around, perform a quick dash, and chop (or throw) items.
As the story progresses, the levels become harder and harder due to outside forces — moving stations, blockades, fires, thievery, and more. The recipes may also get more complicated, but you are still performing the same basic tasks — grab, chop, cook, and serve.
New Co-op Adventures
Why am I here sharing more about Overcooked? I was recently given two game codes for new couch co-op games. Games that are a bit similar (in play style) to Overcooked — Fueled Up! and Trash Sailors
My goal is not to assess if these games are as great or better than Overcooked, but rather to ask if these games are giving us that same experience that we love. What these games have in common is that they are cooperative adventures, where you work together to beat levels.
Let’s talk a bit about these two couch co-op adventures.
1) FUELED UP!
Fueled Up! is a chaotic couch co-op, space travel adventure where up to four players attempt to make it from point A to point B. The goal is simple: remain “fueled up” and don’t destroy the ship. Between refining fuel, keeping doors closed, and avoiding asteroids there’s plenty for players to deal with in this game.
It all feels very heavily inspired by Overcooked, but also different enough to not be an exact replica. The level layout and character design both resemble Overcooked. The gameplay features a “recipe” portion, where players refine crystals into fuel. There’s also the chaos element, where doors continuously open and asteroids land inside your ship. While there are these similarities, the game does have its own identity.
From the beginning, the objectives in Fueled Up! continue to pile on level after level. Since each level brings on great new challenges, it’s not as inviting to new gamers as the Overcooked series. That doesn’t make it a bad game to me, Fueled Up! just seems to be a great couch co-op for more experienced gamers, who are ready for a challenge.
Each level features some “extra goals” that I found mostly too hard to achieve. After achieving them in the first mission (and only the first mission), I don’t believe they unlocked any bonus items or secret missions.
I can see us going back and playing more Fueled Up! in the future, but I do feel this would be a better experience with more players. As a team of two, I was constantly thinking it would be great to have someone else completing other tasks while we were running around our collapsing spaceship.
I don’t expect a game geared towards couch co-op to play great as a single player experience, but two players should be able to get a similar experience from the game as a three or four player team.
2) TRASH SAILORS
I had played (and written about) Trash Sailors on the PC originally, but since it is a couch co-op game I wanted to wait for the full console release before diving in a bit more. In Trash Sailors, up to four sailors make their way through an ocean of trash, while fishing out the correct items to burn fuel and continue sailing.
This game also has a bit too much to do, and works best with a team of four. As a two player game it felt like we were missing part of our crew. Between captaining the ship, fishing for trash, repairing the ship, aiming the lights, and more there is way too much to do in this game.
What makes this game unique and feel totally different from Overcooked as a couch co-op game, is the hand-drawn art style. The game features a very cardboard cutout, hand-painted art style, reminiscent of Don’t Starve. It’s a bit grungy and even Monty Python-esque.
The one big problem I came across was how quickly the items needed for fuel were changing. Any time we would fish up an item to add it to the fuel pit, the list would change and that item was no longer needed. If the ship needs three items and we only have two sailors — plus, one is trying to guide the ship — I think we need more time to fish for the correct items.
Trash Sailors is another game that needs either a larger group or more experienced gamers. I do see us going back into this game, hopefully with more people. Thankfully, I now own it on the Nintendo Switch, which is easy to bring to a party and play with a group of four.
I wasn’t aiming to straight up compare these two games to Overcooked — but that is pretty much what I have done. I think the main takeaways are that these two games are a bit more complicated, especially from the get go. They don’t have that easy barrier to entry for new gamers, which is what many of these simple couch co-op games should go for. There are many households made up of multiple gamers, but most gamers I know live with at least one non-gamer. Simple couch co-ops are the best barrier to entry for your non-gamer roommate, significant other, family member, or anyone else new to games.
It’s not even about turning non-gamers into gamers, it’s just about giving them an experience they could enjoy with their gamer friends. I play plenty of games with my girlfriend, but there are also many games that are just for me, and that’s fine. There are games I have introduced her to that she just didn’t care for, but also a bunch that we both really enjoy playing together. There are even some that she now enjoys on her own.
Growing up playing games with friends (in-person) on weekends, I’m glad to see the return of these gaming experiences. Being able to play online with friends that no longer live in my area is great too, but nothing beats playing with someone in the same room. It’s why I fell in love with tabletop gaming.
The main takeaway from all of this is that no matter what couch co-op game I’m playing my mind always reverts back to Overcooked, because it has been the most perfect blend of that old school feeling of playing with someone on the same console, while also giving you a gaming experience of today.
They have also made a game that works great with anywhere from two to four players.
Fueled Up! and Trash Sailors are both available right now on consoles and PC.
The main reason this review of two new couch co-op games became a comparison to Overcooked was because some new FREE DLC levels were added to Overcooked: All You Can Eat (a collection of both part I and II) at the time we were playing these two games for review.
*myVGBC.com was provided review codes for both of these games — we already owned Overcooked I, II and All You Can Eat.