If the words “bizarre” and “infuriating” are two things you look for in a gaming experience, I am Bread is definitely your huckleberry. From the same twisted minds that created the hilarious Surgeon Simulator, I am Bread thrives on intentionally annoying the player with one of the most insanely frustrating control schemes ever made. This sounds like an awful thing, but when the goal of the game is leading a slice of bread to a toaster, normal rules of game design seem doomed to fail.
Bossa Studios’ I am Bread is definitely not for everyone. I say this a lot when talking about games, but the catch-all phrase has special meaning this time. Much like the confounding and masochistic difficulty of other brutally hard games like Dark Souls, I am Bread thrives on punishing you. It’s this fixation on abusing both the player and carb-laden foods that makes the game so weirdly appealing.
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The main event in I am Bread is really just an ever-more-difficult gauntlet run of obstacles courses both inside and beyond a normal suburban house. Starting in the kitchen to get your loafy bearings, the first task is to traverse the seemingly harmless room without getting the bread too dirty. The end goal is the toaster, or some other means of heating the bread enough to toast it.
I am Bread uses a control scheme that borders on mad genius. On the PlayStation 4, each corner of the bread slice is assigned a shoulder button or trigger—so the top of the slice would be linked to the L2 and R2 buttons on the PlayStation 4’s controller, while the bottom corners use the L1 and R1 buttons. Pressing those buttons individually makes the bread pivot on that specific corner. Pressing two shoulder buttons for two aligning corners that are both touching a surface essentially enables the bread to flip itself over on that edge.
So, to move in a straight line forward, you’ll have to press the L2 and R2 simultaneously, then the L1 and R1 shoulder buttons in the same manner. That sounds easy enough, until your persnickety slice of bread ends up askew, pivoted, or otherwise not going straight—which is pretty much all the damn time. Moving on flat surfaces is hard enough, but these bread slices are clingy and can climb. If you thought you knew pain before, just wait until you attempt to drag a slice of bread up an uneven wall with gaps between different heights (like a disorderly stack of books or climbing a chair to reach a table). To make matters worse, you’ll be doing all this while fighting a spastic viewing angle.
Hordes of ants, absurdly dirty floors, breakable jars of jam, and so many other terrible impediments will block your way, causing pain, humor, and a really low “edibility” score. If that’s not quite enough abuse for you, there’s also bagel racing, an aneurism-inducing zero-g mode, and a collection of levels where you control an extremely destructive baguette. All of these game variations are fascinating and frustrating in nearly equal measures, and even the simplest was enough to make me want to smash the controller and TV into tiny little bits. In a good way.
For the right player, all this talk of insane difficulty isn’t a negative. It’s a challenge. I am Bread is a cheap fix for the budding virtual masochist and could potentially make a hilarious party game as well. After all, everyone loves to watch other people fail miserably at something. More than that, this is a game that thrives on its lunatic concept.
The developers at Bossa Studios made a game about a slice of bread’s quest to become toast. That happened. And I, for one, applaud them for it, even as I’m cursing their names while trying to use that slice of bread to break into a car.
Jason D'Aprile has been covering games and entertainment for the last three decades across a variety of platforms, many of which are now extinct. In addition to covering gaming (both obscure and otherwise), he also writes a bit of the odd fiction and tries hard to avoid social media.
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