Surgeon Simulator became one of those unsung heroes of the YouTube Let’s Play world. Standing alongside games like Slender: The Eight Pages and Minecraft, Surgeon Simulator populated the YouTube world like ants on a Cheeto. You couldn’t find a channel that lacked the medical mayhem of Bossa Studios’ creation. All the more reason to get curious about their latest project I Am Bread, which hit Steam Early Access earlier this month. Following in the footsteps of one of the most hilariously frustrating games in recent memory, I Am Bread was expected to be just as purposely convoluted as Surgeon Simulator. Joke’s on us: I Am Bread is insane, but for all of the right reasons.
I Am Bread has you playing as a man in therapy who has a bizarre out of body experience where he’s a slice of bread. Let me pause for a second to let you process that. Yes, I Am Bread is unquestionably weird, but its concept is just the tip of the iceberg. Using the different keys (or controller buttons), you move individual corners of your slice of bread. Holding the buttons while your bread touches a surface lets you lock them in place, allowing you to move across the map. However, your grip meter decreases over time (similar to Shadow of the Colossus), so you can’t hang on forever. Your goal is to “become toast”, which means getting your bread to a hot surface, staying in place until both sides are properly toasted, then confirm completion. However, you must avoid various hazards to keep your bread from becoming inedible. These hazards range from a dirty floor, a swarm of bugs, or good ol’ fashioned H20. I Am Bread’s cumbersome controls are clearly intentional; you wouldn’t expect any different from the minds behind the blissful chaos of Surgeon Simulator, so you will find yourself scrambling around the environment while at the mercy of the wacky physics.
But I Am Bread is notable in its performance, for unlike Surgeon Simulator (or the other easy comparison, the hot mess QWOP), I Am Bread actually has a rhythm to its controls. You will fumble around for the first hour or so, but once you get the main mechanics down (I used the 360 controller myself), you’ll find moving about as bread to be much less of a headache than you might think. There’s a rush when you’re clinging to a swinging door for dear life while tenuously hanging over a sink full of water. For all its goofiness and awkwardness, I Am Bread is much more substantial an experience than its peers, giving the player at least a bit of grip on the initially haphazard controls.
There’s a nice amount of imagination in the four levels available in Early Access at the time of this writing. The kitchen is probably the easiest, with a handy toaster sitting across the room. Other rooms like the bedroom offer growing challenge from a dirty carpet, while the water-packed bathroom can add plenty of tension to your game. The almost Katamari-esque aesthetic of I Am Bread keeps its charm alive, even through the more frustrating moments.
But this is an Early Access game and there are some problems. There were various times where my bread would be caught in a narrow crevice not only making it very difficult to maneuver out, but also causing the camera to jolt around in confusion. The controls are clearly supposed to be awkward, but the level design has moments of massive frustration that make the goofy novelty wither away. I also noticed some crashes throughout my playthrough, forcing me to restart the game from Steam. I Am Bread is interesting, but it’s clearly still in the early stages of development.
Considering how convoluted Surgeon Simulator was, I Am Bread is a breath of fresh air. Beyond its absolutely insane premise lies a fully competent physics game, built with that sharp, clever punch that made its predecessor such a hit. I did find I Am Bread frustrating, but for the most part, that was a good thing. The controls didn’t feel nearly as impenetrable as Surgeon Simulator or QWOP, while the laid-back style and catchy music eased me into the psychedelic dream world of I Am Bread. It has its share of undeveloped components, but I’m pleasantly surprised by how much fun I had with I Am Bread. I’m looking forward to its full release.