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Born of Bread Review - Is This Paper Mario Inspired RPG Crummy?


Born of Bread review by Ole Gamer Joe

PC/XBOX/PS/SWITCH

12/05/23

WildArts Studio Inc./Dear Villagers


I've heard of pinching a loaf, but this is ridiculous. Welcome everybody to I Dream of Indie Games. My name is Ole Gamer Joe and today we are reviewing the Paper Mario inspired RPG Born of Bread. Does this game rise to the occasion? Or did it leave me feeling crummy?


In Born of Bread an evil group of time traveling villains named Jester, Alfie, Klein, Sid, and Lo are attempting to gather sunstone shards. Their intel leads them to a castle where an entire kingdom resides, including Papa Baker (the castle chef). On this night the queen has requested a special recipe for the most delicious bread from an unfamiliar cookbook, and so Papa Baker gets to prepare her meal. The pressure is on as this bread needs to come out perfectly for her majesty, but what ends up materializing is an adorable bread Golem that is fittingly named "Loaf." Papa Baker comes to look at Loaf as his new son, even dressing him in some rather adorable clothing. While Loaf doesn't speak per se, players do choose between dialogue options at given times throughout the story to help fill in for his lack of vocal cords. Long story short the villains crash the castle, Loaf and Papa Baker are blasted off into a somewhat nearby forest and your greater adventure begins.


A screenshot from Born of Bread showing the characters
Born of Bread features some unique characters and a sense of humor all its own

Born of Bread's writing has its charm, but never quite reaches the heights of the games it is clearly inspired by. Throughout this 15–20-hour adventure you'll meet interesting looking NPCs and party members, but I can't say I connected very closely with any of them. For example, Lint is a cute racoon that joins up with you early on, but his motives for joining you aren't all that compelling. I felt much the same regarding other characters which are later introduced. They are tossed into the story like dough at a pizzeria, aren't all that compelling, and honestly, storytelling and world building ends up being one of the weaker aspects of Born of Bread. The game has a sense of humor, and the writing isn't all that bad, but it never tickled my funny bone like I initially suspected it would. This is a bit of a shame as the game's unusual concept and initial premise led me to believe I was in for a hilarious campaign, but there weren't all that many surprises or thrills. Really, this was more of a flat bread in terms of storytelling.


Born of Bread's gameplay consists of town exploration, turn-based combat, and what I guess you could refer to as dungeons full of various tasks for you to complete in order to progress through your main questline. Like any good RPG you'll come across characters who offer side quests like the aforementioned queen searching for her bird, or other towns folks that might need you to find certain items for them. Seriously, these people really want you to work your BUNS off. Controlling Loaf is very simple as he only has a few actions outside of battle. Players are able to freely move and run around environments in different directions jumping about and even whacking objects with his newly entrusted ladle as a weapon. Using your ladle might even uncover a secret or two, so it's best to go about thwacking everything in sight. There are a few environmental hazards to watch out for like bodies of water, so be aware of that as you explore, or you might become a soggy piece of bread. For players who get annoyed with taking damage from pits or via the game's mediocre platforming sections, there is an option to turn that specific type of damage off.


Born of Bread screenshot showcasing the battle system and "going live"
Battles have some unique mechanics, including "going live"

While exploring environments that range from lush forests to mountains (and even a spooky manor), you'll come across a good variety of weapons that Loaf can use in combat. These range from a sickle to even a fish hammer. Loaf has a set amount of space in his backpack, so it is imperative that you twist or rotate weapons so that they all fit or increase the space in your backpack through leveling up. Initially Born of Bread may seem to feature a rather traditional turn-based battle system, but there is more than meets the eye. On the upper left portion of your screen, you'll find three different sets of points available to you. HP, which is obviously your health, but you'll also have a set amount of will and resolve points. A single partner may also join you in battle and swap spaces as a defensive mechanic. Partners also have varied attacks and abilities of their own. Selecting attack will allow you to choose whichever weapons you have equipped in your backpack and each weapon has its own set number of will points. This means that the game becomes a bit of a juggling act where you have to balance which weapons to use when. Thankfully will points can be regained via consumable items and even a few different equippable perks, but more on that later. Typically speaking the attacks that cost more WP dish out more damage. What's really neat about all of the different attacks is the variety of ways in which you perform them. Every weapon has a minigame attached to it that must be completed successfully to deal the most harm to your foes. As one example you may not rock the analog stick back and forth until it enters the green portion of an on-screen indicator bar, or even play a small rhythm game where you tap the appropriate buttons. Some of these minigames did get a bit repetitive but as far as turn based battling goes, they were typically engaging enough to keep things from getting all too stale.


On the defensive side of things, by timing button presses at the right moment you can block at least some of an enemy's damage towards you. I got the hang of it eventually, but ultimately kind of sucked. Thankfully a later equippable item that can be found helps a bit with an on-screen indicator of when you should block, I kept that equipped for much of the game. Still wondering about those resolve points? That's where special attacks come in. These attacks not only boost your defensive abilities but can help you to take little to no damage when it comes to oncoming attacks. I honestly didn't use the specials all that often myself, but hey options aren't a bad thing. Upon leveling up you may choose between 2 cards to stamp. Earn enough stamps, and unlock more slots while also increasing HP, WP, and so on. All told the combat is pretty decent with a few original concepts and even has deeper intricacies such as learning elemental patterns that I won't bore you with here. For the most part I enjoyed engaging with it, even though I did feel like all of the systems weren't necessary and I could pretty easily bash my way out of the majority of combat situations.


A screenshot showcasing the unique art style of Born of Bread
Born of Bread creates a unique look with a blend of 2D and 3D art

I will also say that while the backpack system is pretty neat, the overall menu design felt a bit sloppy. It was overwhelming to track quests, figure out which characters to spend skill points on (Another thing your partners can earn to unlock additional attacks) or navigate through equippable boons, little trinkets that offer perks. You cycle through pages of a book with the bumpers, but then you have sub menus with the back triggers, and the entire integration felt like it could have been tidied up a bit. That said, the rest of Born of Bread's visual design is quite lovely. The game gives off the happiest of vibes with smiling bouncy characters, a lovely blend of 2D and 3D across varied landscapes full of charm. Whether it was snowy towns or grassy plains, Born of Bread is almost always visually pleasing except for when the camera didn't always cooperate leading to a few awkward angles. I did encounter a few other graphical oddities and even got hung up on the environment once or twice, but all told I greatly enjoyed the cartoony aesthetic the game provided.


The real stand out for me however was the bouncy joyous soundtrack full of satisfying beeps and bloops, quirky melodies, and sound effects that align perfectly with the vibe of Born of Bread. When you factor everything together Born of Bread delivers in the visual and audio department despite a few minor hiccups.


Born of Bread might be a bit half-baked as far as its narrative is concerned, and a few oddities hold it back from cooking to perfection, but it's still a tasty RPG experience worth biting into. The turn-based combat is solid, there are quite a few quests to keep players busy, and the visual and sound design are mostly well done. For many RPG fans there will be enough on the plate here to make it worth forking over the dough. I am awarding Born of Bread the bronze genie lamp of approval.


Pros:

+Lovely cartoon visuals and sounds

+Solid turn-based combat engine

+Plenty of hours of gameplay and side-quests


Cons:

-Writing isn't anything special

-Menu design feels a bit clunky

-A few awkward cameras and glitches

-Some systems felt awkward and unnecessary like "going live" in battle


Bronze Genie Lamp
Bronze Genie Lamp


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