Title: I Am Bread
Platform: PC, PS4 (reviewed on PC)
Developer: Bossa Studios
Publisher: Bossa Studios
Release date: April 9th, 2015 (PC), August 25th (PS4)
Tl;dr: Cute and quirky, but very frustrating.
Family Friendly? See below
When I first saw this game, I thought it was cute. A silly, light-hearted adventure about a piece of bread trying its hardest to become a delicious piece of toast, traversing dangerous landscapes to reach the ultimate goal; the toaster. It looked like a fun way to spend a few hours, and with six different modes, there would be enough replay value to justify buying it from Steam.
“This looks like fun,” I thought. “Can’t be too difficult, right?”
I was wrong. Dead wrong. What looked like an amusing romp through toast land quickly devolved into two hours of teeth grinding and frustration. And that was only the first level. Some may enjoy this; I know those of the Dark Souls calibre enjoy a challenge, and I can totally see why. I agree, sometimes. I like a challenge, but only when the solution is obvious, and all you need is skill that you can pick up fairly quickly. I Am Bread does nothing of the sort.
First up, this game is pretty much impossible with a laptop and a touch pad; I had to go raiding the tower PC before I could even get the thing to work. The gameplay is deceptively simple; you press 1/2/3/4, mostly two at a time, and drag the piece of bread in the direction you want. Or at least, you would if the physics engine decided to co operate. Even in the tutorial level, I found my poor piece of bread floundering about all over the place, never going in the same direction twice. This would have been a bit more tolerable if I hadn’t had to awkwardly hold down two keys at the same time, and I’m honestly not sure why, since pulling and dragging would have produced the exact same effect.
As a result, progress was painfully slow. Once I’d finally worked out how to move (this took an hour) climbing proved even more annoying, since you could either employ moving up/down or left/right, with the two keys, or swinging haphazardly from one corner using one key. The triggers for this one were so over sensitive, I ended up falling on the floor more often than actually grabbing hold of something.
All of this could have been made bearable. I would have figured out how to climb up the fridge eventually. But then you have the “Grip,” meter, which gradually depletes as you try and frantically scramble to the top, and laughs silently as you fall back down and soil your innocent piece of bread. I could handle the extra challenge of the “Inedible,” meter, which dropped as you dragged your toast through various obstacles like leftover food, the tiled floor, or even the cat litter box, but the “Grip,” one seems to run far too short, even in the earlier levels. Normally, what you’d end up getting is a few warm up levels before it throws you in the deep end, but not this game. As you can probably guess, I ended up rage quitting a few times.
Find the Cheese is pretty much the same, hunting down slices with awkward controls, and Bagel Run is just frustrating. You try and race a bagel round an obstacle course (thankfully with an option to respawn at checkpoints) until you hit the finish line. It works pretty much the same way, clicking and dragging the bagel around, only the insane physics engine doesn’t make it move the way you’re steering it, and the poor bagel ends up in a stationary heap on the floor. And apparently one minute and twenty seconds is considered a bad time…
The destruction mode, at the very least, was simple enough to master; you swing a baguette into various breakable things, and you get points for it. An easy concept to master, if it didn’t rely on the same numbers and drag system the story mode did. The shape of the baguette isn’t made for flipping, and I spent most of the time chasing after the weapon, before giving up and whacking whatever was on the floor for a paltry score. And the Zero Gravity part was made pretty much unbearable by the too sensitive, nauseating camera.
Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t a bad game, for the most part. It’s a cute, funny idea that has a lovely soundtrack, nice art style, and is packed full of whimsy. But the game itself even admits that it is, mostly, optimized for being played with a controller, and that’s where it falls pitifully short. It’s so hard to play without one (indeed, I’ve never seen a Let’s Player without one) that I ended up quitting in frustration multiple times. My advice? Get it on PS4 and save your sanity.
So, in summary:
What was great:
- Cute art style
- Great soundtrack
- A really innovative idea
What wasn’t so great:
- Frustratingly clunky controls
- Impossible to play without a controller
- Overly sensitive camera
Thank you to the developers for providing a code to use for this review!