I Am Bread flopped its way out of Steam Early Access this week and landed flat onto the hot coils of the Steam New Releases page. Is this “bread simulator” the neatest thing since… well, sliced bread? Or is it half-baked? Let’s find out in my I Am Bread review!
(Full Disclosure: I was provided a copy of this game for review. I am not otherwise affiliated with Bossa Studios, however.)
I Am Bread is clearly a new entry in the “bumblecore” genre, and at first glance it is the most similar to the flash game GIRP, although you could also compare it to Bossa’s previous game, Surgeon Simulator. In the “story mode” you play as a slice of bread that desperately wants to become toast. You’ve got to get from the loaf to a source of heat in order to make this transition possible. Between you and golden brown deliciousness is a household obstacle course of many different environments that make you decidedly less tasty. The floor in particular is a good way to lose a lot of deliciousness, but everywhere you flop there are hazards, like ants, band-aids, and water. Nobody likes soggy toast…
Your slice of bread gets around by attaching one (or more) of its corners to a surface with the bumpers or triggers, and then pivoting using the analog stick to get another corner in position to attach. In this way, you can traverse surfaces both horizontal and vertical. There’s some slight floppyness to the bread, which you can use while you have momentum to kind of angle around shallow corners. In many stages, there’s also butter and jelly, which decrease or increase the stickyness of the bread. This can make it easier to slide across surfaces or adhere to walls, depending.
I Am Bread features 7 different stages, each taking place in a different location. A couple are outdoors, so staying out of the rain and avoiding the wind become critical. I was able to “pass” all of the stages in the story mode in about 6-7 hours of play, although most of the time I barely skirted by with a D or E grade. A single run through of a stage takes around 10 minutes, although I had to restart dozens of times before I could properly clear each one.
If you become particularly frustrated with a story mode level, there’s always Magic Marmalade. Touching this keeps you from losing your grip or from becoming inedible, but it locks your score to a “E” grade. It’s great for exploring a level you can’t quite figure out, or passing a stage that you’re just having trouble mastering.
Clearing stages also unlocks alternative modes, and each puts a different spin on the core game mechanics. The first is a “Free Roam” mode which just lets you mess around in each environment without any sort of goals. Next is a “Rampage” mode, where you play as a baguette and have to trash everything in sight. There’s a “Bagel Race” where you guide a rolling bagel through a series of checkpoints. In “Cheese Hunt,” your cracker has to reach slices of smelly cheese while avoiding damage. Finally, there’s a “Zero G” mode where your slice is strapped to some rockets and has to conserve fuel while trying to become toasted.
Of the alternative modes, my favorites were “Rampage” and “Zero G.” Rampage mode takes the game’s floppy physics and uses it for chaos, and I always find that enjoyable. Grabbing hunks of broken glass and flinging them around did not get old. I was surprised that I enjoyed Zero G, but I found it to be very relaxing compared to the other modes. I could make small adjustments to my course, and float serenely rather than feel like every second mattered.
Stress is somewhat core to the bumblecore experience. Saying I Am Bread’s “controls are awkward” is like saying “you get to shoot a gun” about a FPS. However, I did find the controls a bit more awkward than they really needed to be. I definitely took a few years off the life of my controller trying to make fast, precise movements. Your slice’s movement is camera relative, so there are times where you have to put the camera at a confusing angle in order to move the way you need to in order to navigate certain surfaces. Trying to cross a ceiling or the underside of a shelf is a particularly challenging endeavor.
I also hit a few weird physics glitches during play. In one section of the gas station, for instance, I could reliably cause the bread to kind of fold in on itself, which usually resulted in me flying halfway across the map in some random direction. Hilarious? Sure. But also it tended to ruin a run, which was a bummer.
Another odd thing is that you can grab light objects, twirl them around, and then end up flying off with your combined momentum. Sometimes if you land on something that breaks (like a glass or plate) and then mistakenly grab onto it instead of to the floor, you’ll inadvertently end up flinging yourself and the object across the room. Again, it’s kind of funny the first time, but as it can ruin 10 minutes of play when it happens, it’s kind of frustrating.
One Last Slice
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I Am Bread is silly and dumb, but still challenging and rewarding. The 7 core environments, with 6 different gameplay modes, offer a wide variety of breadventures to explore. If the difficulty of Surgeon Simulator put you off, this is far more forgiving by comparison.