Regular readers of Geeky Hobbies will know that I have always been a sucker for good co-op video games. Ever since I was a kid I enjoyed playing games co-op with my brother. This is why I had high expectations when I played the Overcooked series a while back. Despite having high expectations for the game I was still surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It was honestly one of the best indie co-op games that I had played in a long time. I bring this up because as soon as I saw Diner Bros it immediately reminded me of Overcooked which made me excited to try it out. While Diner Bros came out about a year ago I am going to take a look at it today because it first DLC, Sushi Bros, was released today and I had the opportunity to check it out. Diner Bros and Sushi Bros will immediately give you reminders of Overcooked, which should excite anyone that is a fan of co-op action games.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank JAYFLGAMES for the review copy of Diner Bros and the Sushi Bros DLC used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.
As this is both a review of the original Diner Bros as well as the DLC Sushi Bros, I will begin by talking about Diner Bros and then talking about Sushi Bros at the end. People who have played Diner Bros can skip right to the Sushi Bros section. If you haven’t played Diner Bros I would highly recommend checking out both sections.
In Diner Bros you and up to three of your friends will run your very own restaurant. You can choose between running a diner/burger place or a pizza parlor. With the DLC Sushi Bros you also have the option of running a sushi restaurant. In the game customers will arrive at your restaurant and place orders. You will make their food by cutting ingredients, combing different ingredients together, and placing them in ovens and other devices to cook them. When the items are finished you deliver them to the customers along with any drinks they want. Be quick to complete their orders on time though or they will leave without paying. For each customer order that you complete you will receive money that you can use to upgrade your restaurant as well as adding more equipment so you can serve more types of food and handle more customers.
For anyone that has played Overcooked or its sequel, this should sound very familiar. I generally don’t like to compare games directly in reviews, but it is hard not to when the two games are so similar. If you have ever played Overcooked before you will be able to jump right into Diner Bros as the basic gameplay is pretty much the same. This shouldn’t be taken as an insult since I loved Overcooked and liked Diner Bros for the same reasons. The cooking gameplay in Diner Bros is just as fun as it was in Overcooked. I don’t know what it is but there is just something so satisfying about these types of games. Like Overcooked Diner Bros is the type of game that you can play for hours at a time and wonder where all of the time went. I will say that I had a really hard time putting Diner Bros down at times.
While you could play the game single player, just like with Overcooked Diner Bros excels as a cooperative game. Unless you have no one else to play the game with locally, I would highly recommend playing the game with at least one other player. I say this for a couple reasons. First the game will be quite a bit more difficult if you just play it by yourself. The game gives you a little help if you are playing by yourself, but it is hard to five star a day with two players so I can’t imagine how hard it is with one player. The main reason to play Diner Bros with another player though is that it is just more enjoyable. These type of games excel when multiple players have to work together. It is just really fun having to work with other players to try and complete all of the orders on time. If you like co-op action games you should love Diner Bros. This especially holds true for people who enjoyed playing Overcooked with another player(s).
It might seem like Diner Bros is just another Overcooked, but the two games do differ in a couple different areas. This makes the two games feel similar, and yet their own experiences at the same time. This is the reason why I think Diner Bros is better in some areas and worse in others than Overcooked.
I would say that the biggest difference between the two games is that Diner Bros is more serious/realistic. Don’t take this as Diner Bros being a serious restaurant simulator because it isn’t. The main reason that I say this is that you are operating in a normal kitchen unlike in Overcooked. In Overcooked you cook in wacky environments with each kitchen having its own unique obstacles that get in your way. None of this is present in Diner Bros. Outside of running into the other players due to the narrow paths in the kitchen and the occasional “zombie” customer, there are no obstacles that get in the way of you preparing the food.
I see some people seeing this as a positive and others thinking of it as a negative. I had mixed feelings about the obstacles in Overcooked. On the positive they made every level feel unique as you had to deal with the twist presented in each level. The obstacles on some levels were just a hassle though and got more in the way than actually adding any fun. I can see some Overcooked fans missing these obstacles. I personally thought this was the one area where Diner Bros improved the most on Overcooked though.
Instead of dealing with these obstacles you get to build up your own restaurant. Each day you return to the same kitchen which you upgrade with the money you acquire from completing orders. This makes it feel like you are really building up your kitchen. It also gives you some options on how you want to experience the game. You get to choose in which order you want to add the upgrades to the kitchen. I do wish the game gave you more options on how you upgrade the restaurant though. I wish the game would let you choose where you placed different equipment as well as given you different decoration options. The campaign is also kind of short. You can play the campaign for as long as you want, but once you purchase all of the upgrades it just feels like you are going through the motions. To purchase all of the upgrades in one of the campaigns usually only takes 2-3 hours.
While the campaign mode is quite a bit different than Overcooked, the challenges and endless modes are actually quite a bit like Overcooked. Basically the challenges have you serve a number of customers successfully. Each of the challenges have their own twists though as they emphasize different things or add other gimmicks. The endless mode basically has you keep playing until you fail to serve three customers in time. At first I thought the challenges and endless modes were going to just be some extra game modes added for a little more content. I actually enjoyed them quite a bit. The challenges in particular are really good as they really test your skills and teamwork. Some of the challenges basically force you to play with at least three players though as you have no chance of completing them with less. After playing through most of the challenges I honestly would say that they are just as good if not better than the campaign.
The other major difference between Diner Bros and Overcooked is that you actually have to deal with customers in Diner Bros. In Overcooked you just place your finished meals on the finished table and they were automatically delivered. In Diner Bros you have to handle everything regarding your customers. You have to take their orders, deliver their food and drinks, and even clean up their table after they leave. Throughout the game you will encounter different types of customers that have different demands. As you play the game you will adjust to the different types of customers as you create a strategy on how to deal with them. How you approach these different customers can vary quite a bit. There are your typical customers that just want a meal and will then leave. Other customers will want multiple food items before they leave. One type of customer is really impatient and needs to be served quickly or they will leave. Then there are the “zombie” customers that will follow you around the restaurant until you feed them. You also have to deal with thieves that will try to steal things unless you can fend them off with your rolling pin. Finally there are the dine and dash customers that will run off without paying unless you teach them a lesson with your rolling pin.
This might not sound like much at first, but it actually changes the game quite a bit. It has a pretty big impact on how you spend your time. No longer can you just spend all of your time cooking. You need to divide your time between making the food and delivering it to the actual customers. With more players this also allows you to delegate one player to handling customers’ orders while the other players cook.While this mechanic mostly just adds another thing that you have to take care of, I liked the customer mechanic in Diner Bros. It adds a lot of flavor to the game and keeps things fresh as you can’t spend all of your time in the kitchen. I will say that it is kind of hard to see some of the orders on top of the customers’ heads though. I think the icons could have been made a little larger to make them a little easier to see.
The one area where I think Overcooked excels over Diner Bros is polish. Diner Bros is a great game, but it doesn’t reach the level of polish of Overcooked. The graphics in Diner Bros are fine, but they aren’t as good as Overcooked. I also thought the controls in Overcooked were tighter. Both games have somewhat floaty controls, but the controls feel worse in Diner Bros. I mostly liked the controls in Diner Bros as they are easy to grasp and work well most of the time. At times it felt like the characters where on ice skates though. I would approach an ingredient or cooking station and either pick up the wrong ingredient or place it on a space that I didn’t want. This doesn’t ruin the experience but it makes you waste some time every so often which can get a little annoying.
Today Diner Bros first DLC content was released titled Sushi Bros. Sushi Bros basically adds two pieces of content to Diner Bros: a new campaign and the competitive mode. Unfortunately at this time Sushi Bros doesn’t add any new challenges to the game. This was a little disappointing as I really liked the challenges.
The biggest addition to the game is a third campaign where you run a sushi restaurant. While I haven’t played through the whole campaign yet, it appears to be very similar to the original campaigns. It does seem to be a little more in depth though as it appears like it might have more upgrades/equipment to purchase for your restaurant. The gameplay is the same for the most part though, except that you are making Asian food instead of burgers or pizza. The game has new recipes and food to create. You are still mostly just chopping ingredients, cooking them, and then delivering them to your customers. There are two main additions to the gameplay in Sushi Bros though.
The most notable difference in the gameplay comes from the need for fish. You would think that you would just have fish on hand or would have it delivered. That would be too simple though. It just so happens that your restaurant is situated on a river. Therefore you just capture the fish right out of the river and serve them up to your customers. The fishing mechanic is pretty simple as you just have to press a button once the fish is close enough to catch it. You then need to chop up the fish or it will flop around and eventually land back in the water. There are also different types of fish that you have to catch so you need to make sure to catch the right fish. The fishing mechanic doesn’t drastically change the gameplay, but it is a nice change of pace. As the fish you need won’t always be in the river, you need to somewhat plan ahead so you have the fish available that you will need.
The other main change to the gameplay is that the sushi restaurant relies a lot on using different cookware. In the original two campaigns you mostly just assembled the ingredients and then threw the ingredients into whichever cooking device was needed. The sushi restaurant has you preparing the ingredients in a pot or pan and then putting them on the stove to cook. This involves more preparation as you only have access to a limited number of stoves and most of the food items need to be cooked. This also forces you to run out to the alley whenever you need more pots and pans than what you start the day with. In addition to getting pots from the dirty alley, you also have to get your water right out of the river. This makes me question how sanitary your restaurant truly is.
Ultimately I thought the sushi restaurant was a nice addition to the franchise. While it feels similar to the other restaurants, it is different as well. At least at first it does seem a little easier than the other restaurants. It does seem to require more coordination from your teammates though. The restaurant is really tight where you will regularly run into the other players. It is especially tight around the stoves so you need to communicate with your teammates. Basically if you liked the original two restaurants like I did, I think you will like the sushi restaurant as well.
The other main addition in Sushi Bros is the competitive mode. In the competitive mode players compete against one another in 1 vs 1 or 2 vs 2 matches. Each player/team gets their own kitchen that the other team can’t enter. Both teams share the same customers though. Players need to use their own kitchens to prepare their food and then deliver it to a customer before the other team can. Each item you deliver to a customer scores points for your team. The first team to reach a points threshold wins the game. At this point the competitive mode includes a mode for both the burger and pizza restaurant.
I enjoyed the competitive mode, but I don’t think I would consider myself to be the target audience for it. I have never been a huge fan of competitive head to head modes as I find them kind of stressful. I would rather work with the other players than against them. The competitive mode can be pretty cutthroat. Usually you can’t interfere with the other team’s food except that you share some equipment and some tabletops. If you place a completed or partially completed dish on a shared surface the other team can steal the food you created. The other players can also mess with you when you are both trying to get different drinks from the drink dispenser. The game is most cutthroat when two players are trying to reach the same customer at the same time. Only one player is able to deliver the food so one player will be left with a food item that they will have to return to their kitchen.
I had fun with the mode, but I preferred the co-op mode. People who like the game and want a competitive option though should really enjoy the mode. To do well in the competitive mode you really need to balance between preparing food and delivering it. You can’t spend all of your time preparing food or your competition will make all of the deliveries before you. You can’t be focused solely on delivering either or you will run out of food. Finding a good balance between the two is the key to success in the competitive mode. While you can play the mode with just two players, I would probably recommend playing with four players if possible so one player can focus on cooking while the other delivers food.
Should You Purchase Diner Bros and/or Sushi Bros?
At the end of the day Diner Bros and the Sushi Bros DLC is a great co-op action game. The comparison to the Overcooked series is pretty obvious as the two games share a lot of the same gameplay. In both games you try to fill different orders by chopping different ingredients, combining them together, cooking them, and eventually delivering them. Just like with Overcooked, this gameplay is really enjoyable. It is just so satisfying playing Diner Bros with another player. Diner Bros differs from Overcooked in two main ways. It cuts out the obstacles and random distractions from the Overcooked levels, and instead allows you to build your own kitchen. The other main difference is that you actually interact with the actual customers. For the most part I liked both of these changes. Diner Bros is a little less polished than Overcooked though as the controls feel kind of floaty at times. The Sushi Bros DLC is a good addition to the game as it adds a new unique restaurant to the mix along with a competitive mode.
If you have played Overcooked before and didn’t really care for it, Diner Bros is probably not going to be for you. If you like co-op action games or liked the Overcooked games, I would highly recommend picking up Diner Bros as you should have a blast with it. I know I did.
As far as Sushi Bros I think it is a good addition to Diner Bros. If you already like Diner Bros and like the idea of running a sushi restaurant and/or the competitive mode, I would highly recommend picking it up. If you haven’t played Diner Bros yet, I would probably recommend trying it first. If you enjoy it I would then recommend picking up Sushi Bros.