STAFF REVIEW of Born of Bread (Xbox Series X)

Tuesday, December 26, 2023.
by Peggy Doyle

Born of Bread Box art Born of Bread is an adorable 2.5D RPG brought to us by the French-Canadian studio WildArts Games. On the surface, this appeared to be everything I love in a game; cute characters, 2D game style, bright graphics, etc. But then I learned it was turn-based combat... my nemesis. However, my need to support and play all the cute indies won out and I decided to take on coverage of this. Would my Born of Bread rise to the occasion or turn my expectations to crumbs?

Born of Bread seems to be inspired by the style of Paper Mario and that’s what initially drew me in. Flat characters move about like a storybook brought to life. WildArts Games have been working on this love letter to RPGs of yesteryear for 5 years, and their love for the genre and dedication to their discipline is evident. You play as Loaf, a flour golem, a child literally born of bread dough by a baker in a palace. You embark on an adventure to prevent the evil villains, The Embers, from gathering some mysterious stones that threaten the safety of the kingdom. From here, Born of Bread plays out like most other RPGs with turn-based combat, mini-games, objects to collect, additional characters and companions you’ll meet, etc.

While you initially start exploring your main weapon is a ladle that you hit objects and people with. Each companion that joins your group brings a different weapon or skill with them. These skills open up your ability to interact with more parts of the environment that you aren’t able to at first. One of the first to join your party is Lint, a raccoon author you’ll meet at his campsite. He’s eager to make new friends and his special skill is digging. This will open new paths for you, allowing you to find more collectibles and secrets.

Combat is turn-based, not my favourite, but includes some mechanics not normally seen in a lot of turn-based combat. When choosing your form of attack, for example, there is a timing indicator that will allow you to do more damage if you get it within the green zone. Turn-based and quick-time events (QTE) mixed in. You can also push buttons to defend yourself from oncoming attacks. As mentioned earlier, each person in your party has different skills and attacks. There are special attacks you can use as well as their standard, provided you have enough points in your arsenal. They also bring different weapons and items to the fights. These could be consumables to recoup health or stamina, or perhaps defence items. Weapons are also accumulated throughout the game and are carried in a grid-type system in your backpack. You can carry as many weapons as you can fit in there.

While combat, in general, is quite simple, learning your enemies’ different weaknesses is another skill. Although I rarely found myself in trouble, provided I had potions and food on me, I did find myself putting a lot of thought into the best combination of attacks to ensure the best outcome. During the fight sequences you are also accompanied by Dub, an adorable dragon ‘streamer’ who is chronicling your fights. You will see comments and helpful hits from ‘viewers’ watching your battle. It’s entirely up to you if you want to follow them or not. You can maximize your willpower gain if you comply with the viewer requests though. Although this was a unique aspect of the game, I found it a bit distracting. This could mostly be because I struggle with turn-based combat and the thought of people watching me struggle caused more stress, even though these weren’t even real viewers.

Born of Bread is full of charm. The characters are adorable and the dialogue, although entirely by text, is witty and full of puns. There is a lot of dialogue though and sometimes streaks of text seemed a bit longer than they should have been. A few more breaks might have been helpful to avoid missing some important items. I mention this because the save feature of the game became the only real issue I had with Born of Bread. There is no automatic saves, nor any manual save from a menu. The only place to manually save are these little black boxes hanging from balloons that you have to activate with a character once you meet them in the game. Before you meet him there are auto saves, but after you meet Dub, you must search out these save points.

I mention this because I played through a section and ended up losing my progress, only to replay it again and lose it all again. I couldn’t figure out what I was missing, and then on my third attempt at a section (and after a frustrating amount of lost time), I realized the ‘launched router’ comment in the dialogue. I clearly missed that. Then I didn’t realize the little black boxes attached to the balloons were those launched routers. Multiple fails on my part, but I am hoping that perhaps the developers will make this a bit clearer going forward or maybe include some sort of text you can refer to in a tutorial section.

Shimmery crystal mines, lush greenery and beautiful ponds, peaks and valleys are throughout the landscape, and WildArts did a wonderful job of the colour and feel of each distinct area. The 2.5D design is a delight and each character has unique qualities and charm. One downside to the design was that there were times when my field of view was limited so I would fall off a ledge or into water because I couldn’t see where I was looking. I mild inconvenience, except for the time I fell off a mushroom and got stuck to the point I had to dashboard to escape. Leading to one of my moments of extended lost progress.

Although you can’t hear their voices, the dialogue is written in such a way that you can hear the differences between them when reading it. Speaking of dialogue, I didn’t see any accessibility options to assist those who are blind or limited sight. There are also no difficulty options, but it is a fairly simplistic game. I think those looking for a more difficult RPG will be disappointed in not having some higher-difficulty options. I prefer a chill and easier experience, and this difficulty was perfect for me. There are some options for different forms of colorblindness, and you can turn off environmental damage. There is also an option for ‘gluten-free mode’, but I’m not sure what that is, nor is it explained if you click on it. It didn’t appear to change anything when I played with it checked versus without.

Although I struggled with the saves at the beginning of the game, Born of Bread really captured me once I got passed that. It’s adorable and, although it didn’t convince me that I can like turn-based combat in games, it wasn’t too difficult that I got frustrated with it. I would have liked to see a bit more variety in the QTE portions of the fights, but being simplistic in nature is good when the game doesn’t really have any accessibility options to assist if the QTEs become too complicated. Some additional accessibility options for gamers who are sight impaired would be extremely beneficial here as the game is almost inaccessible to them without having dialogue read aloud.

Born of Bread is adorable, witty and full of puns. Even with my criticisms stated above I can easily recommend this for fans of the graphic style and simple RPG gameplay. It grabbed my attention from the bakery window and left me satisfied.

**Born of Bread was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.5 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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