What greater purpose can a loaf of bread serve in its short time on this planet, than to become toast? Yet, all to often, us careless humans let it expire and succumb to the ravages of staleness and mould. This loaf has decided to take matters into its own doughy hands, and fight to reach any source of heat it can, in order to become the tastiest of toast.
It’s no secret that I struggled to get on with I Am Bread on PC, as I found its control scheme and setting to be too awkward and deliberately obtuse, to the point where I simply wasn’t having fun with it anymore. Thankfully, as this particular slice of bread flings itself onto iOS today, many of those problems get to fade into the background.
Without distinct triggers to press and analogue sticks to wiggle, the control scheme has had to be completely reworked around simple touch inputs. A quick swipe on the screen will see your slice use whatever contacts it has to try and hurl itself in that direction, while holding and dragging will swing in that direction, but cling onto and hinge on a surface. Finally, tapping near to the bread will nudge it away from that point, so you can shuffle along a surface.
What’s quite remarkable is just how much this speeds up play. Where climbing a wall was an arduous and methodical pursuit, it’s now far quicker to just drag and swipe up the screen, one thumb after another – there’s no grip meter to contend with here, either. Similarly, you gain so much more momentum through a quick swipe than you ever could with a controller, and it’s perhaps even easier to grab onto a surface, any surface, before touching the floor – the floor is universally dirty and should be avoided as though it were lava.
The only real downside is that you lose some of the potential precision that you could get with controlling the four corners individually. In particular, it’s a lot more difficult to work in tight spaces, since holding on the touchscreen will see each corner always trying to grip. In keeping with the PC and console versions, it’s also a nightmare to try and clamber up anything that isn’t a plain flat surface, and the tension that I feel in every fibre of my being as I struggle to climb up the pole on a lawnmower is something that no other game can match.
The game on iOS includes the eight story levels from the PC and console version, and are near identical in form. The graphics have been simplified a small amount, and a few minor details might have been altered in the transition to mobile, but the levels themselves remain very much intact. There are always multiple ways of becoming toast, whether you want to head for the gas heater in the corner or knock a bowling ball onto the CRT TV so that you can cook yourself on there.
It can be quite tricky to see all of the options open to you, though. The camera has a greater deal of autonomy here, and one or two moments felt like the camera had decided to look the wrong way entirely. There’s a couple of touch controls to let you pan your view around and rotate the camera around your slice of bread, and they work as intended in that regard, but with the minor downside that the game sometimes interpreted my camera inputs as inputs for moving the bread as well. Thankfully, not in any fashion that caused it to lose grip and fall to the ground.
Should you manage to reach your chosen source of heat, it’s a case of toasting both sides to perfection, regardless of whether you’re covered in jam or are a barely edible sodden mess that even a duck would turn its beak away from. There’s a new level rating system with five objectives to aim for, with edibility, completion time and the quality of your toasting adding all improving your grade right up to an A++, if you’re a veritable bread ninja.
However, once you’ve reached the end of the game’s seven levels and epilogue, there’s little incentive to go back. Certainly, you can revisit the levels and try to improve your rating or explore the environments, but even with the improved controls, that holds limited appeal. So it’s a shame that the PC and console version’s additional modes didn’t make the transition. This still feels like a game that you’ll bring out to show an incredulous friend or relative, so adding a bit of bagel racing, baguette bowling or zero gravity would have surely gone down a treat. On the other hand, they would pose their own peculiar problems when it came to the control scheme.
It might only feature the central quest of a loaf of bread determined to become toast, but thanks to a new control scheme uniquely tailored to phone and tablet’s touch inputs, I Am Bread on iOS is easily the most accessible and the fun version of the game so far.