The simulation genre has exploded in popularity over the last few years, with sim games falling into two basic camps. On one end of the spectrum, we have serious simulators that attempt to recreate a real-world task or experience, such as Farming Simulator 15 (which is surprisingly fun). On the other end, silly sim games focus on humor over realism. We can thank Goat Simulator for the rise of the joke sim subgenre.
UK-based developer Bossa Studios made a name for itself a couple of years back with Surgeon Simulator, which straddles both halves of the simulation spectrum. This year they returned with I am Bread for Windows PC via Steam. I am Bread is without a doubt a very silly game in which players control a slice of bread as it wreaks destruction on a man's home. The world's first bread simulator!
With deliberately challenging controls and a goofy premise, I am Bread could be either terrible or terribly awesome. Read our latest Steam Spotlight review with gameplay video to find out which side this bread is buttered on!
I am Bread is a fully 3D game and thus it requires a bit of muscle to run. However, it can be played on Windows 8 tablets with at least 2 GB of RAM. On the original Surface Pro, setting the resolution down to 720p and turning off graphical effects will result in a playable (but not 60 FPS) frame rate.
Although the game supports mouse controls, mice and bread just don't mix. You absolutely must play with a controller. The game even lets you pick between Xbox and PlayStation button labels!
The story of the bread
You wouldn't think a game about a piece of bread would have much of a story, but I am Bread lives to surprise you.
Each level of the Story mode opens with the case file of a Mr. Murton. Poor Mr. Murton keeps telling his therapist about strange occurrences involving the bread in his home. As the game progresses, the patient seems to lose more and more of his grip on reality – all based on what players accomplish as the titular bread.
Static case files are a simple and utilitarian way to tell I am Bread's story. The choice works well though, as the darkly humorous writing ties the various bread-related scenarios together in a fun and silly way. On the downside, the actual case files and text take up way too little of the screen. They should be larger and easier to read.
You could easily miss it, but it turns out that I am Bread is actually a prequel to Surgeon Simulator. Mr. Murton is Bob, the surgery patient from that game, and surgeon Nigel Burke even pops up in the end. Pretty clever, devs!
Learning to flop
I am Bread's Story mode begins with a tutorial set within a padded cell (return to the tutorial after beating the game for a surprise). Here you'll learn the intentionally complex – but logical – controls.
You can control each of the four corners of your bread slice independently by using the four top buttons on the controller (the bumpers and triggers on an Xbox controller). Hold the button for one corner down and you can pivot the bread on it with the left analog stick. This proves useful for adjusting the angle of the slice.
Your bread primarily moves around on the ground by flipping over. Hold the buttons for two corners on the same side down and you can then use the left analog stick to flip the bread over on that axis. For instance, you might hold both bumpers or triggers and then make a flipping motion on the stick, causing the bread to flip and move forward.
Flipping and flopping across tables, shelves, and other surfaces will only get your slice so far. It will also need to climb and interact with other objects. Climbing uses the bumpers and triggers, whereas picking up small objects requires the appropriate face buttons.
Grabbing onto anything depletes your grip meter, so you can only climb or carry something for so long before falling or taking a rest. Thus climbing up or across a wall can prove quite dangerous. You need to get where you're going before that grip meter runs out!
Since I am Bread utilizes unique controls, you really need to concentrate to get anywhere. Sometimes I lose my focus as I'm flipping around a surface, leading to certain doom. But the controls do make sense, and they can prove very rewarding once you get a grip on them.
Toast and conquer
The goal in each story level is to evenly toast your bread on both sides. The challenge comes first in figuring out which environmental objects will cook the slice, and then actually getting there.
Cooking surfaces are obvious enough in the first level. Either make your way into the toaster, or climb onto the stovetop and turn on a burner to cook yourself. As the game progresses, you'll have to resort to more unorthodox cooking surfaces such as light bulbs, a hair curling iron, a broken television, the hood of a car, and more. See this guide for the full list of hot spots in each level.
You win by toasting the bread, but how do you lose? By letting it get too dirty. The Edibility meter represents the bread's life. Every time your slice comes into contact with dirty surfaces or ants, the edibility meter starts to drop. Should you fall onto a dirty floor or similar, you'll have to move really fast and avoid losing your cool if you want to survive the level.
I am Bread gets harder and harder as you progress through Story's seven levels (and Epilogue stage). I found the penultimate Garden level way too tough. Mercifully, if players die twice on the same level, the Magic Marmalade item appears on the next attempt. Grab it to become invincible and have unlimited grip, which makes beating the level much easier. Using Marmalade will get you the lowest rating for the level, so just use it if you're in a hurry to unlock more stuff.
Playing through Story mode will unlock almost half a baker's dozen worth of extra modes, as well as three extra bread types for Free Roam: crackerbread, baguette, and bagel.
- Free Roam: Play through Story's levels without worrying about edibility, grip, or toasting.
- Rampage: Go on a rampage with a baguette, destroying as many objects as you can within the time limit. Destroying things is my favorite activity in I am Bread; I wish we could play the object filled Rampage without a time limit.
- Bagel Race: Roll through obstacle courses as a bagel. You don't have to worry about grabbing onto surfaces (though the bagel can still do that), so these races prove much easier to control than the main game.
- Cheese Hunt: Hunt down all the hidden pieces of cheese as a fragile piece of crackerbread. Falling damages the cracker's integrity. Lose all of its integrity and you'll fail the level.
- Zero G: Try to complete the Story levels with no gravity! Your bread has thrusters attached that allow it to rocket about. This mode looks really cool, but movement is even harder than normal.
- Starch Wars: The newest mode adds a whole third-person space shooter to the game! Play as the heroic Bread Leader and try to stop a giant toaster from destroying the rebel carrier. This mode would be a lot of fun, except that it's ridiculously hard. The Rye Fighters lock onto your ship, get behind it, and can't be shaken. If Bossa was to properly balance the Starch wars difficulty, it would become one of the game's best modes.
Unlocking new bread types for Free Roam is great, but the game only has four types of bread in total. Given the vast array of breads in this world, a game called I am Bread should offer a much larger variety of playable breads.
I am Bread looks very good overall, and even the menus are fairly polished in general. However, the highlight color on menu options too closely resembles the non-highlighted option color. The colors should contrast more with each other.
Playing a game as a piece of bread is a very silly idea. And yet somehow Bossa Studios has created a hardcore game around the concept! I am Bread's Story mode gives you lots to do, navigating perilous levels, breaking lots of things, and slowly driving some poor guy crazy. The extra modes add plenty of life as well, although you might not like all of them.
Whether or not you should try I am Bread comes down to two things: the concept and challenge. If you like the humor and wackiness, you're halfway there. But you also need patience for the challenging controls and steep difficulty. Learning a whole new control method certainly requires some perseverance! I've never played Octodad, but I imagine the same sort of players would enjoy both games.
I am Bread is a perfect streaming and YouTube game. Check out our gameplay video to decide whether you'd rather play or just watch this tastefully-made bread simulator.
- I am Bread – Windows and Mac – $12.99 – Steam Link