On one hand, I like to fancy myself as a champion for unique and fun ideas in games. In a medium where everything is increasingly more homogenized and safe, being different can be a kiss of death. I’m always looking to reward that in some way. It’s why I spent a whole week or so talking about nothing but the most obscure indie projects. On the other hand, I’ve very much made clear my fatigue with the “simulator” genre. The gaming equivalent of a Friedberg and Seltzer movie, they reek of lazy opportunism, knowing that an actual quality product isn’t needed as long as the right Youtube influencer makes fun of it. This is made all the more clear if you simply type “I am Bread” into an image search. Within the first page, you’ll see Markiplier’s big punchable face on your screen.
I don’t particularly care for his work, but I’m sure he’s a nice guy. I’m simply commenting on the punchability of his face, which is above average.
So knowing that, I should be content to simply let the genre be; after all, I’m not one of those people that believes a thing shouldn’t exist simply because it doesn’t appeal to me. As I get older and more cynical, that would cover an unreasonable amount of ground, anyway. If I had to explain why I played I Am Bread anyway, I suppose it’s because I was looking for something; a sign that the game wasn’t simply an attempt to cash-in on a demand. Perhaps the developers really really wanted to make a game about sentient toast (great band name).
Objectively, free of all hangups… it’s just not very fun. As has become a trope of the genre, your protagonist, a slice of bread determined to enter a toaster, is exceedingly difficult to control, bumbling around the level more as an exhibition of physics than any real pursuit of a goal. Given how silly the goal is to begin with, I didn’t really find myself wanting to do it more than a few times. Even after the game essentially granted me “god mode” for failing too many times, making me immune to the dirty surfaces that would otherwise compromise my tastability, I spent a good minute and a half simply trying to fall into the toaster.
“Okay, now want to do that again?” the game asked me, this time in a different room.
“Eh, not really”, I responded.
“But come on, there’s a really really funny reference to a thing you know, like, three levels after this!” the game insisted.
That’s when I shut the game off, because having a conversation with a computer monitor is only appropriate when uttering sweet nothings to a Milla Jovovich movie.
I mean, that is okay, right?
Look, comedy is hard, guys. Trust me. I’m not even saying that I’m above intentionally bad humor, but in the context of a repeatable experience that you actually have to spend money for, it doesn’t really hold up. The novelty of I am Bread is its biggest strength and weakness, just wacky enough to earn a glance, but not for very long.
At least their other game, Worlds Adrift, looks neat. If nothing else, it’s proof that they have other ideas beyond just the surface level pandering that I am Bread seems to achieve. Maybe this was the plan all along. Make something that will get public attention before your real work is ready for consumption.
Perhaps I should look into creating a simulator game of my own.