“Woah…. I am bread?” As I flop onto the table, a freshly sliced piece of bread, a glimmer catches my eye from across the kitchen. I have never noticed how inciting that stainless steel toaster has become, nor have I noticed this deep internal longing to be crispy. I tumble towards my destiny, busting up any plate, jar, or glass foolish enough to be caught in my path of destruction. I dangle from ledges and climb great heights, no obstacle too great for me to overcome. I near the final ledge separating me from my single greatest desire. Each step calculated to near perfect precision. I climb the shimmering metal structure ready to fulfill my warm, crunchy purpose. I launch myself end over end, giddy with excitement, blissfully unaware of the tingling in all four corners of my body. Then it happens, my gluteney muscles give out sending me plummeting to the kitchen floor in a heap of defeated wheat. In a cruel twist of fate, I had become the chaff, unneeded, unusable, and thrown to the wind.
Sometimes I take video games too seriously, but then again, if I didn’t, what fun would they be? I sat down and played the game I am Bread developed by Bossa Studios. During my playing time there was fun to be had and plenty of frustrations to be endured. Anything worth doing is worth struggling for, right? But was this struggle worth it in the end?
The most critical factor for fun in a game is playability. The degree of control given over the playable character is one of the most overlooked aspects of gaming today. In I am Bread you are put in control of all four corners of the bread separately using the triggers and bumpers.
You can also choose to anchor yourself to a surface using the controller’s buttons or manipulate the direction of the bread using the joysticks. However, as inclusive this control scheme is, sometimes too much control can be just as bad as not enough. Instantly, the unforgiving learning curve beings to punish you. The controls feel unintuitive and wonky, leaving you flopping around helplessly as you spin and flip in unexpected ways. While playing this I was left with the smell of burnt toast in my nostrils and confusion as I was unsure if I was having a stroke or if was just really that bad at using all four fingers independently. I am Bread’s control scheme left much to be desired as I felt I never had full control over what I was trying to do.
However complicated the control scheme, the game makes up for it in gameplay simplicity. There is one objective in story mode, toast the bread. With each increasing level, this task becomes more and ambiguous, leaving the player up to their own ingenuity in the later levels. The fun in this game begins to shine through in the moments when the level design catches you off guard. After many failed attempts to scale the refrigerator in the first level, I finally made it safely to the top. With a deep breath and a sense of security, I begin to flop across the top of the freezer while tightroping the edge. About half way across, the freezer door swings open on me leaving my piece of bread balancing on the edge of the door for dear life as it swings wide open. For me one of the most interesting aspects of this game was discovering just how interactive this world really was in my attempt to toast myself.
The third aspect of this game that I want to address is the creativity and detail that went into this game. It is not the big, AAA story that makes this game so special. It’s the unique attention to detail that this game brings. Never before have I seen a game take the perspective of a piece of food so successfully. From the interactivity of the levels, intelligent level design, and gameplay options, this game just oozes passion. The puzzles you are forced to overcome using tools you would never expect show a great amount of thought was put into this game. For a puzzle game like I am Bread, this clever problem solving gameplay is truly a crown jewel for this game.
I am Bread is a truly inspired puzzle game with well thought out level design and intelligent problem solving. However, its clunky and unintuitive control scheme holds the game back from greatness as most of the frustrations and failures I experienced while playing were due to an inability to get the bread to do what I wanted it to. The challenges were unique enough to warrant second attempts, but the control scheme ensured that second attempt was met with aggravation. When it works, I am Bread is a masterpiece that delights with exciting exploration and environmental manipulation. Sadly, it is ultimately held back from its true potential by an aggravating control scheme that I could never quite master. I rate this game a 6.8/10 and would recommend this game for anyone who has a penchant for puzzle solving and a calm temperament.