I Am Bread Review

Played on Windows.
Also Available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, macOS, iOS and Android.

“Let’s play something completely different.” Oh, those words. I say them entirely too often, but it’s also one of the reasons I think I have an interesting list of reviews. I don’t know why, but I try to avoid only playing AAA titles, and looking at my list I’ve done a fantastic job. But I like to switch between an “AAA” title and an indie title. Well, I don’t think they get much more indie than I Am Bread.

So in 2013, a unique game came out called Surgeon Simulator by Bossa Studios. It tasked the player to do surgery on a patient with just awful controls. I don’t mean that as an insult to the game as they are intentionally bad, but the fact is you had to manually control every finger of a hand to grab tools to work on the surgery. The controls really challenged the player to do the surgery. It was odd, it was unique, and It was a smash hit.

So in 2015, Bossa released a follow up to Surgeon Simulator, simply titled “I Am Bread”. A game which could also simply be called a “Bread simulator”, a new entry in the “bad simulation” genre. While it’s not a genre they created, as QWOP might be one of the original games with intentionally bad controls, it is a genre which they seemed to have shown a mastery with Surgeon Simulator. However, a “Bread simulator”? Hmm how odd, but intriguing. How can one be bread?

The fact is you don’t play “bread” necessarily but rather a seemingly sentient piece of bread that wishes to be toasted. Yeah, I don’t get it either, but I’ve played games where I’m a magical goat wizard so I’ll go along with it.

The story of the game is sparse. Between levels, there are notes taken down by a psychiatrist about a man who thinks a piece of toast has come alive and is wrecking his house. Well obviously he’s right, but the notes don’t really refer to your actions but generic information about what was in the room you were in. Even if you’re very careful and disrupt nothing, the note says you made a mess. Really, that’s the entire story for the game. The game doesn’t tie heavily to those notes, though there is an epilogue level specifically tied to that story. The story is there to avoid people saying “They want a story.” but ultimately I don’t know if the story is necessary for this type of game.

So if the story doesn’t feel important, how is that gameplay then?

It definitely has a feeling that it’s in the same genre as the Surgeon Simulator, but it also feels that it’s more similar to “QWOP” where you independently control the legs and thighs of a runner. In I Am Bread, you get the ability to grip with any of four corners of the piece of bread, and from there you can flip the bread using those gripped corners as the axis.


Simple motion in the first level.

The easiest movement is to use two bumper buttons on a controller for the “top ” of the bread, and the triggers as the “bottom” and just alternate, and this works well. If you’re on a flat surface and are precise with your motion, you can usually use this to flip towards any goal you want in a straight line. There is a challenge when you need to make a turn but only grabbing with one of the edges allows you to flop around based on that single point, and in that too, it works.

The feeling of the movement is quite odd. The controls are good and usually feel like they’re based on camera direction or bread orientation more than anything, but it’s a game you need to feel to understand how it works rather than just watching someone on youtube. It’s very strange and unique.

At the same time, there’s also a pro-control version, which is actually the original style of the game, and that’s… quite a bit more frustrating to say the least. I can’t exactly explain the difference between the two control styles, but the “Basic” is the newer easier control scheme developed after feedback from the audience. It does make the game remarkably more playable but it’s mostly due to the fact the controls work as you expect 100 percent of the time instead of closer to 75 percent of the time. I’m sure there’s a reason that the pro controls feel so strange and there are probably rules for the motion, but I can’t put my finger on it with the ten minutes of playing with it that I did, and had no desire to continue playing with those controls.

Still, even with the basic controls, the controls can be quite frustrating. When you need to move quickly, the controls are limiting. You want to quickly get off a bad surface or away from a danger and the best you can do is flip away, and the speed that you flip at is slower than you imagine. You need to make proper contact with an object to grab it or grip on it. Sometimes that requires flapping around until you make the “Right” contact. I get all the reasons why the controls are like they are because if they weren’t, the game would be remarkably easy to do everything, but at the same time, I have to admit I got more frustrated with them the longer I played.

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Riding the wave.

The game also has a few rules about “Grip”. You can grip for a certain amount of time on any surface. If that time runs out, you slip and fall to the ground. You can land on anything and as long as you aren’t gripping with any point, you’ll gain that grip power back but running out at the wrong time can doom you pretty quickly.

However, with all these rules, I did find some cool moments and motions in the game with those controls. You’re able to fling yourself in the air. When you do it right, it feels amazing. If you fail, you still feel like a boss doing it because it’s a fun motion to do. The same is true when pivoting on one piece up and over an object, that’s a great moment. Falling and grabbing onto any surface with any of the four corners is also an exciting experience. So while the controls can be frustrating they do have moments of coolness.

But I think the game tried to return to the “Wow, that feels odd” feeling that Surgeon Simulator existed in. It tries to also be random to get weird and zany situations for Youtubers to experience and freak out over or make the player have fun, but really the game itself is too normal for that. The controls are wonky and silly because of it, but the game itself seems like a standard platformer in many level design.

Let me give an example with Surgeon Simulator. You have to do surgeries in surgeon simulator, with the first one being to do a heart transplant. Then after you beat all of those surgeries, you have to do the surgery again in a poorly driven ambulance, and on a gurney riding down the halls, and in space. Even the operations are weird, such as an eye or tooth transplant. This all works because everything is over the top or extreme.

I Am Bread, on the other hand, tries to take the sentient bread, which is a pretty outlandish concept, and then normalize it with a very average world. It’s just a game with weak controls rather than a weird and unique experience.

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Here’s the second level. Looks like a normal room.

Another example of how games tackle this type of style is how Katamari Damacy handles its world. Often times you start with a normal looking world, but as you play more and more, you get to see outlandish locations to the point where you want to see what the game does next, or what the game might be hiding behind a door or in a secret area.

I Am Bread could have done that, and probably should have. But instead you get a typical room set up how a kitchen might look, there are a few tricks with it, but everything in the game feels like a realistic room, and the controls don’t make enough uniqueness for a great game here. That exploration could have moved this game from merely interesting to something special.

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You can see how the bathroom is laid out for the most part.

The challenge of the main game is to toast the bread and part of it is to find a heat source to do it. Every level has new and unique ways to toast the bread, with the kitchen having the easiest and most obvious, and the final level having the most complex version. A few of these options though are a bit confusing. In my first look above you can see I got to the heater, that’s actually supposed to be a heat source but I didn’t see what I was missing. Some of the options require it to be turned on or tweaked in some way, and when it makes sense, it works well, such as starting a car and toasting yourself on the hood, but other times, like the heater, it’s just confusing as to the steps you need to do.

The good news is that every level has multiple heat sources, so while I didn’t succeed in the video, I later knocked over a lamp and toasted myself on that. It works and it’s fun trying new and different sources for toasting. Even in the first level, you can toast yourself in the oven, on the stove-top burners, or in the toaster itself. The choice is up to you.

Some levels are actually pretty great, I really like the kitchen as almost a tutorial level for the rules of the game. You learn that you can die by becoming inedible (by getting soggy or dirty) but also learn a few tricks for maneuvering through levels.

Later levels want to be more challenging and do this by making the player lose his “Edibility” faster, or requiring more dangerous distances to travel over. There is usually a way to get through levels, but after a few levels, I started to get bored or annoyed when playing the bread, especially when the game has me fall into something gross and there’s no way out in time often enough.

When you combine the edibility system, with the grip system, the end results are I am Bread becomes a really challenging and frustrating game

Luckily the game has what they call “Magic Marmalade” which when you touch it gives you infinite grip and infinite edibility. This means any player can beat the game, but the good news for players who want to complain about this is that the magic marmalade also takes away your final score and just grades you “E” which is the lowest passing grade.

Still, I really like the use of the magic marmalade, because without it I don’t think I would have finished the game. The final levels become too hard for me to really tackle and while I enjoy the game, the controls started to wear on me the longer I played it. With the magic marmalade I was able to see the entire world and for that, I have to thank the developers for that experience.

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Thanks to the Marmalade this wasn’t a death sentence.

The main game might take a couple of hours to beat unless the player wants to chase the elusive A+ ratings. If you’re looking for more gameplay though, I Am Bread has that for you with multiple different bonus modes. The modes can range from annoying to better than the base game. Each mode has a different theme, rules, or controls as well as a different type of food, and as such the player gets a different experience. So after the bread levels, there are the “Bagel Race” levels where you race a bagel through the world, allowing you to grip to the walls through two points on the bagel, however, the idea is to keep moving fast, so rather than gripping the game is more about rolling the bagel through checkpoints.

Then there are the baguette levels, which have two grip points at the end of the baguette, but it’s also intended for you to swing around and smash objects in a level. In fact, the whole level is based on how many objects you can destroy, along with a challenging combo system that you need to master to get a high score.

There are also the cheese hunt set of levels where you try to find five stinky cheeses on each level. The cheese hunt is done with a cracker, however, and to make it more interesting, the edibility doesn’t matter on this level, but the “integrity” does, too many hard hits and you lose the level. I didn’t play much of this level due to challenge, but it was interesting and anyone who wants that higher level of challenge will find that in cheese hunt.

Finally, there are the Zero Gravity levels, which is interesting but a bit tricky. There is no gravity so you can just fly through the world using jets from any of the four corners of your bread. From there you have to try to use momentum to stay attached to heat sources. It’s a new twist on the game and works quite well.

So those are the bonus modes you unlock by beating a level or two. Each one is unique and some of them I’m quite fond of. Bagel race became my favorite after thinking it was too hard. The destruction level is quite enjoyable as well.

If that isn’t enough content, there are also three bonus levels. The first is my favorite, “Starch wars” where you attack an Imperial Star Destroyer, made out of an ironing board and an iron, and have to blow up its shields before flying into the bridge of the ship.

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Comes out a little blurry due to the motion, but it’s clearly star wars.

There are also a series of levels built on a similar game called “Goat Simulator” In that level, you are placed in similar levels to the baguette levels where you have to destroy objects, however this time you play the limp corpse of the main character of “Goat Simulator”.

Finally, there is a single Team Fortress 2 level where you must “Become sandwich” for the Heavy.

All three of these are additional levels, though the Goat levels become like the rest of the extra levels, the other two are one-offs, for you to play, get a score and exit.

So the question becomes “Is it good?” It’s a hard question because it’s about what the player wants to see. If they are already a fan of Surgeon Simulator, this game will probably please them.

On the other hand, I feel like it’s not as good as Surgeon Simulator. I Am Bread is less whacky and random, merely standing on the original game’s shoulder with a novel concept rather than really redefining the “genre” itself. It is enjoyable and if you want to chase the high score or the grading system you’ll have a lot to do here, but personally I only really put in four hours into the game. There is more to do, I just didn’t really feel like doing it.

I think the best way to think of I Am Bread is what I said earlier. When I play I am Bread, I feel this is a game with the intention of being for YouTubers to play on youtube. Its controls are odd and if people enjoy that type of game, it’s perfect for them. I do think Surgeon Simulator are stronger games, but I have to admit, I Am Bread isn’t a bad game, and I would actually say it’s pretty good. That means I do recommend it, but I recommend it with the caveat that it’s good for what it is. A youtube whacky control game, that’s a little zany. If you want that, I Am Bread is for you.

On the other hand, if you looking for more than that or a different type of game. I’d probably pass on it, or better yet watch a youtube video on it from a YouTuber that will make you laugh. As such I award I Am Bread…

3/5

Final Thoughts: The newest game from the team that brought you Surgeon Simulator. It’s a game about mastering the controls. However, It doesn’t have a silliness that it implies, though it has a good challenge.

Stats: 4.1 Hours 17/35 achievements earned.

If you prefer a Video review you can see it here: